How Well Cared For is Your Pet?
All of us have seen them, as they rapidly multiply all over the place.
Not the animals as you might surmise, we’re talking about the pet care phenomenon which caters to them. It’s an exploding industry with vast differences in types, levels of care and facilities; some lavish right down to the gilt and rhinestone-encrusted beds, lofty comforters and erudite staff. And many have less ostentatious facilities, but their care far exceeds the rest‹like they say, "Looks can be deceiving."
As beautiful as the down bed and silver food trays may be, what lay behind the glitz and coiffed elegance is what truly matters. It may be pretty to look at, but if the handling of your beloved pet is less than perfect, all the trimmings in the world can’t fix that gap.
HERE’S A LITTLE ADVICE ON WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
First And Foremost, DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Ask your friends to recommend a favorite: There is nothing better than a great review from a happy consumer. As with most situations, the more information that you acquire the better, so check online resources. Look to your local animal shelters for advice, ask your veterinarian or local pet charities -- they will have the best recommendations. Visit each facility that you are considering: Is the location clean, is the smell level acceptable? Are the animals relaxed and content?
Isadora Davis from The Pet Lounge in San Diego mentioned a basic rule, "Pay attention to the noise level. Barking is normal in a pet care facility, but it shouldn’t be incessant." Incessant noise can be an indication that animals needs are not being met properly. Don’t stop at the front door when you visit: Ask to tour the entire facility, the common areas, grooming facilities, sleeping areas and outdoor play areas. And preferably when animals are present so you may see how they are interacting with each other and how the "handlers" are caring for them. The Facility’s owner should also be available for your inquiries; remember, they are the lifeblood of the organization.
Get to Know the Staff.
Another of the basic recommendations by Pet Care Expert Bonnie Welch, "The most important component is a caring staff; it is essential. The people involved must love animals and the environment they are working in."
It’s basic: An unhappy, disgruntled staff is not going to treat your beloved pet with the best care; unhappy workers will not create a happy environment.
When your need is grooming: Davis recommended also, "The groomer should be present when interviewing the facility for the first time, they need to know your animals needs." This is vital when it comes to good care for your animal, don’t be afraid to observe a grooming, it can tell you a great deal. Pay attention to the number of staff members: The number present compared to the animals left in their care is important. State law dictates a standard of one staff per 12 dogs -- many do not follow that standard, but it is a good rule of thumb to follow as a minimum. Pay close attention to how the breeds are matched up when in common care areas also. It¹s important to have balance when pairing pets; small dogs should generally be placed with smaller dogs, larger with larger, etc., common sense applies here.
Other considerations: What is the feeding, exercise and rest regimen for the animals; do they understand the different needs of a large breed vs. a small one?
Identify What Your Needs Are Before Choosing.
Davis put it like this: "You as the owner must stay involved and active in process, be it grooming, overnights or long-term. It is vital to know during the process of selection, what your [and your animal’s] needs are for the duration of its visit and use that as your guide for choosing the facility." Things like, is this a long-term or a short visit? Is your breed an animal that can handle a larger group or does it require more individualized care? Is your pet a breed that needs to be exercised occasionally, regularly, or on more of a continual basis -- sort of a pet profile if you will. This is information you must consider and communicate effectively before your first drop-off. That is your responsibility as a good caretaker.
After all, you wouldn’t leave a beloved friend or your child in the care of an unqualified stranger now would you? Fluffy can¹t ask the questions, so you must do so. Your pets need your protection‹and your diligence.