Tuesday, March 19, 2019
"Pet Resort" staff member Jenna Behnke is pictured with Rumi, a Bichon dog, at Leashes and Leads. The Byron business offers a wide variety of services for pets.

All critters, all the time

Animals run, learn, snooze at Leashes and Leads

You walk into Leashes and Leads, the “pet resort” and animal supplies store on Byron’s east edge, and you think, “Wow.”

That’s the typical reaction for first-time visitors, said Kevin McClure, operations director of the large facility, which opened in 2008.

It’s animal central, with boarding, grooming, training and play care areas and more under one tall, tall roof.

Let your dogs run outside in a private dog park, pamper them in the grooming salon, purchase everything they need in the retail area, and encourage new skills during one-on-one ‘Canine University’ classes.

“A lot of times when people walk in here, you can kind of tell it’s the first time,” McClure said. “The look on their face is astonishment, like, ‘What in the world is this?’ It’s really fun to kind of engage them, get to know them a little bit. Next thing you know, they’re coming back more and more. We do get a lot of compliments on our facility.”

Leashes and Leads was established by the late Nell Mitchell and is now operated by her heirs, including Jerry and Ruth Fischer, McClure’s mother and father-in-law.

It has grown to include about 60 employees – 70-ish if you include the equine park, featuring an indoor arena, and a horse barn with 28 stalls, which opened last fall.

And lots are being sold for an “equine community,” a subdivision with about 100 housing lots on the property. Construction is expected to start this spring.

Build your home with your horses onsite. Or, if you live elsewhere, bring your kids out for riding lessons. Or rent time in the arena.

“That’s kind of one of our niches there, is working with families,” McClure said. “A parent will have three kids at a variety of ages, and all three of them are getting lessons, to learn horsemanship skills, how to care for a horse, how to groom them and stuff. So they’re learning all those things.”

Dogs get a real workout outdoors at Leashes and Leads. There’s lots of room to run in that dog park, and pooches also can jump in a pond, if they wish.

“Our philosophy back there is to let dogs be dogs,” McClure said. “We basically manage those groups with our staff when they’re out there playing. But we let them be dogs. When they’re home they can be back with their owner and playing. But when they’ve had a hard day of playing out here, they go home and they’re a little more docile at home, so you can actually enjoy, and they’re not terrorizing your house.”

The “Doggy Day Care” side has grown in attendance from about 20 to 30 dogs per day to around 100.

It has been expanded several times, as has the boarding service.

“How do you do that, and keep everybody safe and having fun at the same time?” McClure said. “That’s our job, is to make sure that they’re all safe and make sure they’re having fun, and providing that service for our customers, so they can bring home a dog that’s well-taken care of but also had lots of fun socializing with other dogs. We take the time to really get to know your dog. It kind of becomes an extension of our own family here, in a lot of ways.

McClure said the overall goal is to provide a place for people and pets to come together to build positive relationships.

Leashes and Leads was voted Best Boarding Facility by Wagazine, a Rochester-based “animal magazine,” in its listing of 2018 Golden Paws Award winners.

“We’re constantly looking at, ‘How can we grow, how can we get better, how can we improve, what do we need to do to make things more efficient?’” McClure said. “It’s been fun to see where we were and where we are today. It’s exciting to think about.”


Leashes and Leads is at 6214 14th St. NW, Byron. 

The Country Store is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Pet Resort is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Pet grooming is available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Call 507-961-2338 or visit leashesandleads.com for more information.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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