Recently a colleague of mine suggested I check out a local dog boarding company that he had heard about. He had quickly checked out their website and commented that it(the website) looked pretty good and suggested I contact them to see if we might cross market. Knowing that I am a believer in co-opetition and strength in numbers. He told me that they were offering dog boarding and doggie day care services at half the industry norm.
So I went to their website and at first glance it was nice, simple and to the point. Upon further inspection what I found was worrisome and disturbing to say the least.
They offered a “cage free” and “resort” environment. Meaning that the dogs are left to roam free inside and outside during the day and (here’s the worrisome part) in a room all together at night and I guess if the owner goes anywhere ie; running errands etc. This is worrisome. As a dog trainer with knowledge of dog psychology and dog behavior I find this to be irresponsible. Dogs are unpredictable by nature and any number of things could go wrong among dogs who are left unsupervised whether or not from the same family. A fight could easily occur even among dogs who have never experienced such a thing. Being away from home can be stressful and bring out behaviors that would normally not exist.
While watching a video I did see crates lining a room that they tout as “cage free”, so which is it cage free or not? Additionally while perusing the photo gallery I saw a photo taken of a dog inside the home and there was trash strewn about. This could be very hazardous for the dogs boarding there as they might get into something that could be harmful to them.
Additionally I did not find them to be a member of any professional pet sitting organization nor did it list if they are licensed or insured. Are they certified in pet CPR or first aid? Do they get continuing education? I also did not see references or testimonials on their site. These are all things that should be present when hiring a professional pet sitter or care giver.
My point being that just because someone has a nice website does not make them qualified to care for people’s beloved pets. Dogs are simple and complex at the same time. If someone is not supervising them while in a free environment it is only a matter of time before something bad happens. Would you put your dog in that situation? I surely would not.
One last thought… Being licensed, insured, belonging to trade affiliated organizations, taking CPR/first aid courses as well as continuing education to stay abreast of the latest information in ones field does increase the cost of doing business and there by the cost of service. However it also increases the quality of service and care!
When looking for a professional pet sitter or dog boarder a great place to start is NAPPS- the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, www.petsitters.org You can search for pet sitters, dog walkers and dog boarding facilities by zip code as well as find a wealth of information on caring for your pet, what to look for when hiring a pet sitter, an emergency plan for pets and so much more!
So when you are getting ready to travel and are in need of a pet sitter or dog boarding facility, do your homework. Investigate and call to check references. A great pet sitter will answer all your questions, take great care of your pets and give you peace of mind.