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How to Choose a Boarding Facility
Although many people travel with their pets, there are times when it may not be possible or appropriate to take your pets with you. Some people leave their pets with friends and family, however, not everyone has the experience or the time to properly care for a pet.
A good boarding facility can provide quality care for your pet while you're away. Some people still think of "kennels" as depressing places with row upon row of cages. But today, many facilities have extensive and luxurious quarters for pets -- not the typical "kennel" at all! "Cat condos", for instance, are becoming more commonplace, as are park-like areas for dogs to run and play.
Ask friends, family, vets, animal shelters, dog trainers, or other reliable sources for recommendations. If possible, visit the facility unannounced (rather than during specific "visiting hours) so that you can see how the facility is run. Once you have a few possible boarding facilities, check for things like:
- Cleanliness. Does it look and smell clean? Is the light and ventilation good? Is it a comfortable temperature?
- Are there sufficiently roomy indoor & outdoor runs for dogs? Are the outdoor facilities protected from wind, rain, and snow?
- Are there scheduled exercise times?
- Does the facility require proof that pets are up-to-date on vaccinations? Any time there are large numbers of pets housed in the same quarters, the risk of passing an illness from one animal to another are higher. Facilities should always require pets to be current on vaccinations.
- Are cats separated from dogs? Cats will generally be more relaxed when they are housed away from the noise and rambunctiousness of dogs.
- Do the cats' quarters provide sufficient room so that there is reasonable space between the food & water bowls and the litter box? Cats do not like to eat/drink where they eliminate.
- Do cats have enough space to move around and stretch out fully?
- Are pets provided with bedding so that they don't have to sleep on bare floors? Can you bring your pet's own bedding from home?
- How often are pets fed? Can you bring your pet's own food?
- Are there any additional amenities or services available for your pet, such as longer walks or playtimes, or bathing or grooming?
- Do the staff seem knowledgeable and genuinely interested in the welfare of the pets?
- Are staff trained and qualified to monitor pets for health problems and administer medications, if required?
- Are there veterinary services available either on-site or on-call? Will the facility provide such services if it believes your pet is having a medical emergency? How will you be notified and billed?
- Is there an emergency plan just in case pets need to be evacuated?
- What happens if your return home is delayed?
If your pet has never been boarded before, it is best to get him accustomed to it slowly by scheduling short stays at first. Be sure to book early to ensure that the facility has space for your pet.
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