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Diane Bernhagen achieves dream ‘to have 100 dogs’ thanks to SBA 504 - BLP - Business Lending Partners
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Milwaukee-area doggy daycare owner, Diane Bernhagen, achieves dream ‘to have 100 dogs’ thanks to SBA 504

Glendale, WI – Growing up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Diane Bernhagen, owner of North Shore Doggy Daycare and North Shore Pet Connection, dreamt of a life where she had 100 dogs.

Thanks to the Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 program – in partnership with Bank Five Nine and Business Lending Partners (BLP) – Bernhagen consolidated her two businesses to now shelter more dogs in the Milwaukee-area, essentially making her dream a reality.

In 1995, Bernhagen started the North Shore Pet Connection, providing special needs services to pets at all stages of their lives. Because the service requires special attention, Bernhagen lived adjacent to the property.


In 2008, Bernhagen started North Shore Doggy Daycare. Understanding the different needs of the animals the new business would service, Bernhagen designed and built a separate facility at 1980 W Florist Ave. in Glendale, Wis. – the location where she has now since consolidated operations.


“My dream was always to care for pets at all stages of their lives – from beginning to end,” said Bernhagen. “Bringing these two businesses together finally did that for me – it made my dream come true.”


To complete this project, Bernhagen turned to the Glendale Chamber of Commerce (GCC) for guidance. According to Dale Schmidt, CEO/President of GCC and Bernhagen’s business manager, Bernhagen was well-positioned financially to move forward in 2020. However, the impacts from the pandemic caused issues with her original lender.

Diane Bernhagen northshore doggy daycare
Northshore Doggy Daycare and Northshore Pet Connection owner, Diane Bernhagen with her collie, Nessa at her newly consolidated Glendale location.

“The former lender was out of state,” said Schmidt. “We felt we should bring it together here, so I said, ‘let’s do it local.’”


Schmidt connected Bernhagen with Bank Five Nine, who, collectively with BLP, provided SBA 504 funding to consolidate debt, purchase additional land, and construct a commercial/residential add-on to the North Shore Doggy Daycare property. Bernhagen also utilized another GCC member, Ellen Zielinski of EZ Secretarial Services, for bookkeeping and to help keep the loan application and processes moving forward.


Bank Five Nine provided 50% of the overall financing. BLP, one of two certified development companies in Wisconsin, packaged the SBA 504 loan which provided 40% of the financing. This reduced Bernhagen’s down payment to 10%.


Construction on the addition began in October of 2021 and has since been completed. Bernhagen’s two businesses offer an array of services, including daycare, grooming, administering medicine, transportation, and overnight stays – servicing dogs of all needs, at one location.

A few of the North Shore Doggy Daycare customers pose for the camera (via the Northshore Doggy Daycare Facebook page).

Wesley Walsh, Loan Officer at BLP, said the project moved forward largely because of the collaboration among so many parties.


“Diane is someone who truly deserves this opportunity to take the next step in her journey,” said Walsh. “It was a pleasure underwriting and packaging this SBA 504 loan with her and Bank Five Nine.”


For Bernhagen, it may have taken longer than she originally dreamt so many years ago, but she now has her 100 dogs, under one roof.


“My favorite part about this business and being here is seeing that the animals are well cared for,” said Bernhagen. “That we have a beautiful facility specifically for them.”


BLP, with offices in Racine and Green Bay, has been a certified development company through the SBA since 1985 and is able to provide the SBA 504 program throughout Wisconsin.


Learn more about the SBA 504 loan program by visiting

wesley walsh blp
Wesley Walsh, Loan Officer at Business Lending Partners