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Is Dog Day Care Safe?

Updated on February 27, 2013

My pets are on par with my children—if you’re anything like me, you understand the pangs of going on vacation. Who can you trust to watch over your treasured pouch? Since house sitters are hardly reliable and stereotypically too busy throwing pool parties to watch over your dog, they have invented a new luxury: pet daycare centers.

A place you can bring your dog for the day, week, or even month. At a price of around $40 per day and $70 per night, your best friend sounds like he’s getting the royal treatment. Many of these dog hotels include swimming pools, large grass enclosures, and even multiple play rooms for the pups- it all looks and sounds just wonderful!

But just as I’d want my children to be supervised by well educated, quality, people, I find myself questioning, who works at these places? Can they be trusted to properly care for my dog? Do they know more or less about dogs than I do? Naturally we tend to assume they know a lot about dogs, they are working at a dog facility aren’t they? Beware; this is hardly the case.

There are no federal regulations for these types of businesses. Anyone with a business license can open a doggy daycare, and in some states even obtain an animal kennel permit. No educational requirements are instated, the staff does not even have to take classes in dog handling or training.

These are minimum wage jobs, filled by high school and college students- some of which have little to no interest in dogs at all. While you may get lucky and find a pet-sitting place bursting with impressive employees, others end up rather unlucky.


Doggy Daycare Deaths

Once a year someone comes around to inspect these properties for obvious problems, a task that does very little each night when dogs are legally allowed to be left alone- virtually trapped in their tiny kennels. If a disaster occurs, the puppies are toast. In 2011 nearly 200 dogs were killed due to fires at boarding facilities in the states New Hampshire, North Carolina, and South Carolina alone.

Legislation is far behind popular culture, while we are demanding a place to board our pets- enough bad stuff has not happened to constitute the instatement of new and necessary laws. Dogs are at a higher risk for accident in such a busy environment, many canines have lost their lives due to dogfights and drowning in the play pools.

Just last week in my area, a 10-year-old sport was placed into the wrong pen by an inexperienced staff member, resulting in a chunk of his back being bitten off by a larger Husky. Two days later the little dog died without anyone watching over him. Although he was in intensive care, the rules allowed him to be left alone at the boarding facility. In California a dog is considered property instead of a life, because of this all one can sue for, even in the case of complete negligence, is the street value of the dog. Does anyone else smell injustice?

If the deceased pup’s owners had done some digging into this particular location, perhaps they’d have thought twice about keeping him at this location. For they would have discovered, only a few years back, a lack of supervision led to another dog getting lose, running out onto a busy street, and being hit and killed.

This is why it’s important to not simply cross your fingers and hope your dog is at a good daycare, instead proactively see for yourself—before it’s too late.

Questions to Ask

- Have any dogs been injured or died while in the care of this facility?

- How many staff members are watching the dogs at all times? Are there unsupervised moments?

- Are employees and staff certified in anything? What are there credentials to work here?

- If you plan to leave your dog overnight make sure to ask if they have 24 hour care.

Do not take anything for granted; you can’t assume that because a place has been in business for a while that it is a safe haven for your precious pup. This is your baby we are talking about here! While no one can ever love and care as much about him/her as you, make sure your doggy daycare is at least qualified to pretend.

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