According to the Humane Society of the United States, 39 percent of Americans own dogs and 33 percent own cats. A major concern for anyone planning a vacation can be finding the right pet boarding facility for your animal friends.
The Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of complaints each year about kennels. In 2011, over 400 complaints were registered with the bureau nationally about billing issues or treatment of pets, up from 273 complaints in 2010. Some consumers reported their pets came back from kennels dehydrated, malnourished, or infested with fleas, ticks and even maggots. In the worst cases pets became extremely ill while being boarded at sub-standard facilities. Lengthy stays at animal hospitals and high medical costs resulted.
The advantages of boarding your pet at a quality facility when you travel include:
• Avoidance of the stress which long car or plane rides can put on your pet.
• Attention and supervision that they would not receive if left alone at home.
• Mental stimulation instead of boredom.
• Trained staff that can spot health concerns.
• Peace of mind that comes with knowing your “escape artist” pet is securely contained.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips for consumers who want to get the best boarding care for their family’s pets when they vacation without them:
Get recommendations from friends, neighbors, family or your veterinarian. There’s nothing like the first-hand experiences when it comes to making important selections of this type. Positive or negative encounters are not easily forgotten and should not be overlooked. Listen to acquaintances’ stories of how their pets and their pocketbooks were treated.
• Visit the facility. Does it look and smell clean? Look for sufficient ventilation and light. See where the pets are individually contained and check out the common play areas.
• Ask lots of questions. If your pet likes to escape, find out what steps the kennel has taken to prevent pets from running away. Inquire about how closely pets are watched if they are allowed to interact and play together. Ask about feeding schedules and water accessibility.
Are all pets required to be current on vaccinations? Check on policies regarding flea and tick control.
Is there a veterinarian available for emergency services?
If pets are allowed to play together ask if they are separated by size or other considerations. Ask about experience and training for staff members.
Be prepared to answer questions about your pet. Responsible facilities will have questions regarding vaccinations, special food, behavior concerns and health issues that your pet may have.
• Trust your gut. The friendliness and professionalism of the staff, or lack thereof, can give you a positive or negative impression. Don’t discount those impressions. Your peace of mind is an important component of any relaxing vacation.
If you have questions about a pet boarding facility or wish to register a complaint contact the Better Business Bureau at 800-856-2417 or kansasplains.bbb.org.