A Moment of Paws: The Kennel-9: Nine things to consider before you board your pet

By Mary Nee

We’re constantly on the go – long work hours, travel for business or pleasure, so we just aren’t home as much as we’d like to be. These and numerous other reasons have led to an increased need for pet owners to use boarding or training kennels and daycare facilities on a regular basis to keep our pets stimulated, socialized, and happy.

But when you drop your pet off, do you know exactly what kind of environment they’ll be in? You’re paying for a service, and the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) encourages owners to be a consumer advocate for pets by doing their own research and asking as many questions as possible before deciding on a facility.

ARL’s new pet safety campaign – “The Kennel-9” – shares nine things you should consider before boarding your dog or cat.

See it for Yourself.
Can you physically see the areas where your pet will be staying?

Sound the Alarm.
Does the facility have written emergency response procedures in the event of a fire, power outage, or natural disaster? Are there working fire and carbon monoxide detectors, a sprinkler system, or back-up power generator?

License, Please.
Does the facility have a currently operating license issued by a city or town? How many animals are allowed under the license and how many animals are currently being boarded?

In Case of a Medical Emergency.
If your animal experiences an unexpected injury or medical condition, will you be contacted? Is there a veterinarian on staff, or does the facility have an on-call vet? Do you sign a waiver to have your animal treated?

What’s the ratio of staff to animals? Is there 24-hour supervision? If not, are animals monitored by a surveillance system? What training or experience does staff caring for animals have?

Social Circle.
Do dogs play together in common areas? Are these play groups grouped together by size/temperament and monitored at all times? Can you choose to have your dog not participate in group activities?

Infection Precautions.
Does the facility require up-to-date vaccination records for all boarders? What documentation is required for your pet to be admitted?

Feline Friends.
Does the facility board cats? Are they separated from the sight and noise of dogs?

Get it in Writing.
Will the facility give you written documentation of their procedures or confirmation of any special requests for your pet?

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of quality boarding facilities located throughout Massachusetts, but did you know there are no state-wide regulations that govern kennels and daycare facilities? Oversight is at the local level, with ordinances and by-laws varying widely across the Commonwealth.

This is a real problem, as ARL has unfortunately seen too many instances when a lack of training, supervision or proper protocols have led to injury and/or death of an animal at a boarding facility. These considerations are aimed to help you, as both a pet owner and consumer, make the most informed decision possible.

To download the above information, log onto arlboston.org. Remember, do your homework and ask the right questions to ensure your pet is safe and sound away from home!

Mary Nee, the president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, resides in Dorchester and is a part-time Eastham resident. Pet questions? Email ARL at press@arlboston.org