If you are heading out of town for an end of summer trip, your Better Business Bureau has some tips to select a trustworthy home-away-from-home for your pets. Pet owners should use the same caution when looking for a place to board their pets as they would when selecting any kind of service where health and safety are priorities.

Every year, BBB receives hundreds of complaints from pet owners about kennels. In 2011, BBB received more than 400 complaints nationally over billing or treatment of pets, up from 273 complaints filed in 2010. Consumers claimed their pets came back from boarding kennels severely dehydrated and malnourished or rife with fleas, ticks, and even maggots. Worst-case scenarios include pets that became extremely ill while boarding at sub-standard facilities, which resulted in lengthy stays at the animal hospital and associated costs.

If you are searching for a reliable kennel, BBB recommends:

  • Check it out and get recommendations – Always check out a kennel’s Business Review at bbb.org to make sure it has a good track record for keeping customers satisfied. Ask your friends, neighbors, veterinarians or local animal shelters for recommendations and verify that the kennel is licensed. 
  • Verify that your kennel is licensed – Check with the PA Department of Agriculture to verify that your kennel is properly licensed. The Pennsylvania Kennels licensed with the Dog Law Enforcement Office can be searched from their website, along with kennel inspection records.
  • Make a visit – Personally inspect the facilities you are considering before scheduling the boarding. Check for cleanliness and odors. Note the overall safety of the kennel and cages. 
  • Ask lots of questions – If your pet is prone to running away, ask about steps the kennel has taken to make their facilities secure. Ask about how your pet may come in contact with other animals. Some kennels let animals play together while others keep them separate at all times. Inquire about the feeding schedule, water accessibility and exercise. Ask about the hours for drop-off and pick-up and make sure you understand their billing policy, terms and conditions and whether any extra fees may be imposed. Finally, ask about procedures in case of a medical emergency or other unexpected situation. 
  • Go with your gut – Note the friendliness of staff members and how they interact with the boarded pets. Ask about their background and experience. Make sure the facility requires that all entering pets have proof of immunization, and ask about their policies regarding flea and tick control.

For more helpful tips on searching for a safe place to house your furry friend, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry and Business Reviews you can trust on local companies, visit www.bbb.org or call 877-267-5222.

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