Animal Motel was founded by Don and Diana Gutknecht in 1960 and was located in Milwaukee for 27 years. In 1987, we designed and built our present facility in Butler, WI. We relocated to this facility in March 1988. Don and Diana owned and operated Animal Motel until April of 2016 when they sold Animal Motel to their son Daryl Gutknecht and his partner Michael, still keeping Animal Motel in the family.
In 1946, Don started his training career, along with working with people and their dogs. In 1952, he entered military service, serving in the K-9 Corps. His responsibilities included training sentry and scout dogs, along with managing the dog kennels in the Far East during the Korean Conflict. He served on the Army Dog Training Center’s demonstration team, working and training silent scout dogs, sentry dogs, messenger dogs, and casualty dogs. Don also trained U.S. Army personnel for scout and sentry work in Korea, serving in Korea with the 39th Infantry Scout Dog Platoon. He was NCO in charge of the Far East Sentry Dog Training Center in Japan.
Don was one of 12 kennel operators from across the country to serve on the original Board of Directors of the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA), established in 1977, which eventually became the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA). Don served as regional director for seven years, treasurer, chairman of the ethics committee, and was a member of the oral examining board for the certification of kennel operators. Diana also served as regional director for three years.
Don became a Certified Kennel Operator in 1979, after being in the boarding kennel industry for 19 years. PCSA awards the prestigious CKO designation. To qualify for CKO certification, an individual must complete a two-year educational program, must exemplify high ethical standards as outlined by the PCSA ethics committee, and must demonstrate a high degree of competence in animal care and kennel management through a combination of written examinations and oral interviews. Don and Daryl Gutknecht are the only CKOs in the Milwaukee area.
Don and Diana remained active members of the PCSA, for whom they served on various committees and continued to participate on panel discussions and as meeting planner/coordinators. Since they are considered “veterans” in the industry, they also help other kennel operators who call upon them for advice. They also regularly attended conventions, workshops, and seminars, which are offered to keep pet care professionals current in all aspects of pet care services and business management.
In 1999, Diana retired from the day to day operations and their son Daryl joined his father full time in the day to day operations. In 2015, Don had decided he was getting to point of slowing down. So, the decision to sell Animal Motel to his son Daryl and his partner Michael was made and was finalized in April of 2016 however, Don still remained a member of the Animal Motel team as the Director of Training until his passing in October of 2019. Since 2016, Daryl and Michael have been working on updating the current facility. Some of the improvements that have been made include bringing in digital technology, remodeling of the lobby and training hall, starting individual and group day care, equipment updates and upgrades throughout the facility and landscape work. We continue daily to better ourselves and our facility. We are members of IBPSA – International Boarding and Pet Services Association and are working on having each member of our team fully certified by IBPSA and PACCC – Professional Animal Care Certification Council.