*Guest Post by Ms.Madhu Goyal
Recently there have been several complaints about unethical practices at some dog boardings, of dogs being confined in unaoccupied broken-down buildings, dogs chained to gates and driveways in the hot sun without water and in their own excreta, dogs kept on rooftops with no shade from the summer sun, dogs being returned to pet parents covered in ticks and suffering from high/tick fever and other ailments, of pet parents being billed double the boarding rate agreed on, pets being held hostage, etc. This is not to say there aren’t any good boardings. Of course there are, run by genuine dog lovers. It is your job as a responsible pet parent to figure out which one is right for your dog, if for some unavoidable reason you are forced to use the services of one.
Here are some general guidelines to help you sort the good from the bad. The key is to use your common sense.
First, do some research, don’t go solely on recomendations, and question, question, question! If someone you know has had a good experience at a particular boarding, put that place at the top of your shortlist, but check it out personally anyway before you send your dog there.
Visit the boarding, preferably unannounced, don’t be fooled by the boarding’s self-promotion or the photos you’ve seen – photos can be doctored. If the boarding owner/owners object to the visit, you can be sure they have something to hide. Avoid that boarding.
Does the place smell bad? If it does, go home.
Is it scrupulously clean? If not, go home!
Are there other dog boarders that you can see? If not, then obviously it’s not a good place for your dog. If yes, check their condition. Are they clean, tick free, healthy? Do they look happy? Are the dogs chained? If yes, your dog will be chained too.
Are the dogs protected well from the elements/heat/cold? If not, Leave!
Other than the boarding owners, is there adequate, caring, clean, 24X7 support staff? If there is no other staff, it’s not a good sign.
Ask who will walk, exercise your dog, how many times and where. Check to see if the play/walk area is secure, clean and wholesome.
Do the dogs look scared in the presence of the boarding owners/staff? If they do, they are probably beaten into submission.
Is the place secure, with high boundary walls and gates that a dog cannot jump over?
Is there fresh, clean and plentiful drinking water available to the dogs? Some boardings give their wards very little water because dogs pee after they drink, and the boarding owners don’t want the bother of cleaning up the pee.
Inspect the living space. Is it clean, airy, well ventilated, cool in summer, warm in winter? Is there enough bedding? Is it clean and does it smell fresh?
Question the boarding owners about what, how often and how much their boarders are fed. If possible, inspect the refrigerators for cleanliness and freshness of the food. If there are no refrigerators, the dogs are most likely fed stale food.
Inspect food and water bowls for cleanliness.
Go through the contract, preferably with a lawyer. If it is one-sided and protects only the rights of the boarding owners and does not say anything about the rights of the pet and pet parents, don’t sign.
Make sure you have the boarding rates in writing so that there are no surprises later.
Ask which veterinary clinic is used if, God forbid, a dog falls ill while in the care of the boarding. It is your right to demand vet/path lab bills/receipts for all treatment given to the pet, and daily updates on his/her condition. Also, be sure to keep in constant touch with the vet regarding your dog’s condition and course of treatment.
If you are out of town, ask a friend or family member to occasionally visit your pet at the boarding to make sure all is well. If the boarding objects to this, strike it off your list.
A little forethought will save your dog a lot of pain and distress, and you a thousand regrets.