Pet Daycare Surveillance System and Access Control Case Study: Citizen Canine

Just The Facts 

Customer: Citizen Canine

Location: Oakland, California

Challenge: Installing security cameras and access control at a dog boarding and daycare service.

Solution: A 24-hour access control and surveillance system that keeps employees, customers and their dogs safe.

Results: A state-of-the-art access control and surveillance camera system that protects the building and the parking lot and gives customers access to video footage of their pets. 

Customer Challenge

People see their pets as more than just animals—they are beloved members of the family. When owners leave their dogs at doggie daycare, grooming, or boarding, they have the expectation that their pets will be safe and taken care of, says Randi Drake, president of Citizen Canine.

The same expectations hold true for the people who work at these facilities and the guests bringing their pets for a stay, says the manager of the nearly 25-year-old business. 

Drake explains crime in the Bay Area has made workers and customers uneasy about coming there. She adds it was long past the time for the company to replace its makeshift camera system that covered the building but not the play yard.

“We were looking for options that would give us full coverage and be a little more stable,” she says. “We got three quotes, but felt the companies were not well established. We wanted a quality installation and excellent follow-up care.” 

Other security system integrators also said they would need to install conduit on top of the play yard fence, which would have an unsightly appearance. Drake then contacted Safe and Sound Security to get their recommendations. 

“They came to us with an out-of-date security system that didn’t give full coverage to the areas they needed coverage,” explains Zachary Palmquist, project manager for Safe and Sound Security. “They had staff there 24 hours a day and wanted them to feel comfortable and safe while they monitored the animals.” 

Liability, he adds, was also a big concern. If an animal was injured or stolen, Citizen Canine needed video footage capturing the incident. “Drake also wanted to be able to keep track of who was coming and going, and make sure all employees were actively working and checking on the dogs regularly,” he adds. 

The resulting security system included:

  • Brivo access control, and
  • OpenEye security cameras.

“Best of all we didn’t have to put the conduit across the fence,” he says. We achieved their objective by running cables through the hollow part of the fence. The result was a secure and inviting place that didn’t resemble a prison.”

Camera Coverage 24 Hours a Day

Safe and Sound Security installed 18 cameras across the 24-hour facility that operates 365 days a year. Although the cameras monitor the area at all times, Citizen Canine only permits check-ins and check-outs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

But there’s staff in the building all day and night, and they need protection, Palmquist says.

Safe and Sound Security considered cameras from Verkada, Alarm.com, and OpenEye. In the end, they selected OpenEye cameras because they offered the right features within Citizen Canine’s budget.

“Alarm.com is a great option but doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the other systems. Verkada is also great, but is a little higher priced,” he explains. “OpenEye is a consumer-friendly, mid-tier system that offers some bells and whistles, a good user experience, has decent image quality, and allows video playback in several ways.” 

Safe and Sound Security added cameras throughout the facility and play yard. They installed cameras in the parking lot, too. The original plan was to have just one camera in the parking lot, but they added a second one when they realized a spot in the back wasn’t covered. 

The OpenEye system enabled technicians to set up virtual trip lines around the fence line. If someone hops the fence to grab a dog, the Citizen Canine staff receives an alert. “Dogs are very expensive and get taken all the time,” Palmquist explains. “The system notifies staff automatically if a human crosses the fence line.”

OpenEye cameras also offer search capabilities, such as object searching. For example, let’s say workers groom a dog and misplace the animal’s collar. They can go into the video system and do a motion search in the area where the collar was last seen.

“This allows them to search through footage quickly because the system only pulls up motion in that area,” he says. “Instead of searching through footage for hours, they can search for motion where the collar last was and find it in minutes.”

OpenEye cameras also allow thumbnail searches. For example, Drake could easily determine the arrival time and duration of a red car in the parking lot by selecting it and refining the search within a specific timeframe, avoiding the need to review hours of footage. 

Workers also can search for and receive alerts about events related to individuals or vehicles. For example, they can ask the system to search for all events involving a specific vehicle’s movement or to show all the times a person moved in front of the cameras.  

pet daycare security system case study citizen canine

Granting Guest Access to Video

“Peoples pets are like their children, and they want to be able to check on them while they’re playing or being boarded,” Palmquist adds. 

But if surveillance camera footage isn’t stored in the cloud, he says customers would have a hard time viewing it.

He explains older network video recorders (NVRs) or digital video recorders (DVRs) need a Peer-to-Peer or device-to-device connection to view footage. The downside of this connection is that when 15 people try to log in remotely to watch the same cameras, the network has to establish 15 independent connections. 

“Fifteen independent outbound connections require a lot of processing power and network bandwidth,” Palmquist explains. “The overall user experience suffers, with video quality issues, frequent disconnections, and a system overwhelmed by excessive demands.”

Camera systems that connect to the cloud eliminate those problems by allowing direct connection to the cloud. He explains the cloud has more bandwidth and processing power because it comprises many server banks with thousands and thousands of servers. 

“These servers can handle the processing power of these remote connections,” he says. “So instead of one device trying to manage 15 connections, you have the recorder connecting to the cloud, where customers can access the video footage. Now unlimited users can stream the same footage from the cloud, at the same time.” 

Safe and Sound Security created a user group called “Guests” to control access through the system. The staff selects which cameras guests can view. “Guests are not able to view cameras in the back of the house or admin areas,” he says. “But they can view general areas where the dogs play or are boarded.” 

Drake says she appreciates that she also has access to video feeds at all times through an app on her phone. “If I call in and don’t get an answer, I can check on things from home or wherever I am,” she says. 

Keeping Access Under Control 

A 24-hour facility like Citizen Canine also demands constant access control. For this, technicians installed a Brivo card reader on the main entry door. 

“They didn’t want to arm or disarm the alarm system because there is always someone on site,” he says. “So, we limited access through the main entry with a credentialed card reader.”

Citizen Canine directs all traffic through the main door, which is equipped with Brivo access control. The technicians set the system to unlock during business hours, but remain locked outside of those hours to allow only those with a credential to get in.

“They can enter with a card, a key fob or a cellular device,” Palmquist says. 

Drake notes access is so much easier now. Despite being the owner, she says she never had a key. “I could never get in after hours,” she says. “Now I can use the Brivo Mobile App to come and go as I please.” 

If an employee decides to leave or is terminated, Drake can log in to the app and immediately disable their access. She simply selects the employee under “Users” and chooses “Suspend” or “Delete” to deactivate credentials associated with that person. 

Training & Maintenance

Citizen Canine entered a comprehensive service level agreement (SLA) with Safe and Sound Security to cover training and maintenance.

Under this agreement, Safe and Sound Security provides training, and its technicians monitor system operation and promptly address any issues or alerts to ensure optimal performance.

Safe and Sound Security trained three staff members. Though the system is very user-friendly, Drake mentions she’s not very technical and that instructors were very patient with her during training. “Anytime I talked to any of their employees, they’ve been great,” she says. 

Instructors also trained one member of the staff to train others on the system. Once he became comfortable with its operation, he took on onboarding all new staff members. “Of course, if they have a problem or don’t have time for this, they just call us and we set up a Zoom call to train the new staff members,” Palmquist says. 

The completed system grants backend access to all devices for remote repairs. In the absence of a remote solution, Safe and Sound Security dispatches technicians to resolve the issue and install needed replacement parts. Technicians also come out annually to clean and test systems.

The result is a security system that works as intended to make Citizen Canine employees, guests and pets more secure.

“As a 24-hour facility, we have employees here 24 hours a day,” Drake says. “Everyone is now more comfortable at night. The cameras are always on, so if something happens, we can see what’s happening. We are sleeping better at night, especially with the increasing crime in the area.” 

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