Pick Your Pet’s Caretaker Carefully
By Chip Skambis
As many families depart on their summer vacations, the Austin Better Business Bureau advises they do their homework when deciding where to board their pets, to be sure they’ll be treated well while you’re gone.
The phrase “dog days of summer” means a bit more to Vicki Varner than to most other people. She’s the manager at Exmoor Pet Care, and summer is her busiest season. But when the economy started to slump, Varner says, she started to face competition from people who open up their homes to pet-sit.
“We have a lot of people in the pet care business now who may care for animals, but they have no experience with animals,” Varner said.
The competition isn’t harming Varner’s business too much, but the same might not be true for pets. The Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of complaints every year about pets coming home from a kennel dehydrated, covered in fleas or even sick.
Varner says those things come with inexperience.
“They take them to the dog park, let them mix with everybody, who knows,” she said. “These are all animals you don’t know what vet care they’ve had, so you know they can pick up things here and there. And if there’s only one person, what happens if they’re sick? What happens if they have a car accident?”
Varner says a big red flag is if the caretaker doesn’t ask about vaccinations. If they aren’t familiar with your breed of animal, that’s another bad sign, since some breeds can’t be out in the heat too long. And make sure to ask your own questions, such as what the kennel’s plan is if your dog gets sick.
Varner says the longer someone’s been offering pet care, the safer it is to leave your pet with them.