As families gear up for their summer vacation, Better Business Bureau has advice for pet owners looking for a safe place to house their furry friend.
BBB receives hundreds of complaints from consumers every year about boarding facilities, also known as kennels. Complaints allege problems with billing, as well as concerns about the treatment of their pet. Some owners allege their pets came back from the kennel dehydrated, malnourished or with fleas or ticks.
“A boarding kennel can give your pet quality care, and peace of mind for you while you’re away,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Metro New York. “You just need to plan ahead and do your homework to find a kennel that will provide your pet with the care he or she deserves.”
Consumers should use the following tips as a guide to finding a trustworthy kennel:
- Plan ahead to make sure you get your first choice. You'll probably need to make a reservation well in advance, especially if you want to board your pet during holidays or popular vacation times.
- Ask for recommendations. Turn to friends and family members who own animals or your veterinarian for recommendations. Make sure to check out any recommendations with the BBB (newyork.bbb.org) before making a final decision to see their BBB Business Rating and history of complaints.
- Personally visit the facilities. Check for cleanliness and note the overall safety of the kennel and cages. Ask to see all of the places your pet may be taken. If your pet is prone to running away, ask about steps the kennel takes to make the facility secure.
- Ask about interactions between animals. Some kennels let animals play together while others keep them separate at all times. Make sure the facility requires that all entering pets have proof of immunization. Also ask about its policies regarding flea and tick control.
- Take notice of the staff. Ask about the background and experience of company staff and take a few moments to see how they interact with the other pets that are being boarded.
- Ask if you can bring food or toys. Bringing your pet's own food to a kennel may reduce the chance of diarrhea or upset stomach. Also check to see if the kennel allows you to bring any special toys, blankets, treats, or bedding for your pet.
- Thoroughly read the boarding agreement. Verify it includes the feeding and exercise schedule as well as pick up and drop off hours. Some facilities offer bathing, nail trimming and immunization as additional services. Make sure these and any other additional fees, like medical emergencies or other care, are included in the agreement.
- Have a backup plan. Make sure you have a local friend, family member or veterinarian you can trust in case of emergencies.