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DISCUSSION: Should Pet Boarding Facilities Have Stricter Safety Regulations?


Recently, a tragic event took place at an overnight boarding facility located within a national pet store chain. Owners dropped off their 3-pound Chihuahua mix to stay for the night. But before they even left on their getaway, they received a heart-stopping phone call: their tiny pup had been attacked by a bigger dog. The Chi was put into emergency surgery, performed at the in-house hospital. Shortly after the procedure, he passed away.

Since news of this story broke, the public has been left with many unanswered questions: Wasn’t anyone watching? Did they know that the attacker was aggressive? Were there signs an attack was about to happen? And why was a tiny dog in the same space as a big one, in the first place?

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Should dogs of all sizes be allowed in the same play areas?

This heartbreaking incident has shed light on the fact that certain mandatory standards for dog and cat kennels may be lacking.

It must be noted that specific standards vary by state, and some places choose to implement stricter standards for themselves. For example, certain places require pet owners to fill out questionnaires about their pets’ personalities, mandate a “trial day” to observe them in action, and make a point to keep smaller and larger dogs separated.

The above story is by no means the first of its kind. Just last month, a Goldendoodle was mauled to death by a group of about seven dogs while staying at a high-end boarding facility. This particular establishment requires that dogs be non-aggressive and pass a mandatory interview. In theory, the proper precautions were taken, and because Goldendoodles are larger dogs, implementing a “size rule” probably wouldn’t have made a difference. While the pup survived the intensive reparative surgery after the attack, she too died shortly thereafter. Could this have been avoided simply by implementing better supervision?

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Playing is one thing; fighting is another. Do all boarding employees know the difference?

Then, there was a story from two years ago when events at a privately-owned facility caused the deaths of multiple pets. Twenty-eight dogs were placed in a 10 x 10 room to spend the night, and when the air conditioning failed in the middle of a hot summer night (the cord had been chewed), 20 dogs passed away due to heat stroke. At the time, the owners of the facility were out of town, and it was being overseen by employees. Was this a case of space and electrical standards lacking?

When tragedies like these surface, we can’t help but think about what could have been done to prevent such wasteful deaths. Accidents happen–but could some of them be avoided, given the proper precautions?

It must be said: there is no doubt that many facilities hold themselves to the highest standards of safety and cleanliness, and they have earned the trust of loyal clients. 

But because some boarding regulations aren’t widely standardized, as pet owners, it is imperative that we are diligent about choosing the right boarding facilities for our pets. In addition, we also need to choose places that fit our pets’ personalities. Does your dog or cat like playing with others, or would they prefer separate space and more “alone time”? Or perhaps you and your companion would benefit from hiring a pet sitter to come to your home, instead.

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Choose a facility where you and your pet feel the most comfortable, and he’ll stay happier and healthier while you’re away!

Now, we want to hear from you: Are stories like these the result of freak accidents, or do they prove that boarding standards need to be more strict and better regulated? Tell us what you think.

Written by Karen Harris

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