Courtesy of the American Boarding Kennels Association, the non-profit trade association for the pet boarding industry in the United States and around the world. ABKA offers information, publications, education, and facility accreditation.
Every day people face the question of what to do with their pets when travel, illness, or family emergencies disrupt normal care. Some pet owners attempt to solve this problem by taking their pets with them, only to discover that hotel restrictions, travel-induced pet illness, and runaway pets can turn their trip into a disaster. Other pet owners turn over the care of their animals to well-meaning but untrained neighbors or friends. Again, the results are often unsatisfactory. Pets entrusted to such part-time custodians frequently escape or become seriously ill because of lack of reliable, frequent, and knowledgeable supervision.
Fortunately, the majority of pet owners who find themselves in need of substitute pet care utilize the services of professional boarding kennels. Annually, more than 30 million pet owners recognize that full-time, knowledgeable, and experienced boarding kennel operators provide the most dependable, secure, and safe pet care available.
Because competent, ethical boarding kennels are an important part of your pet care program, and because the selection of a boarding kennel can be a confusing and disconcerting process for pet owners, the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA) has assembled this data to assist you in evaluating, selecting, and working with your local boarding kennel. Our goals are twofold:
1. To give your pet a happy and safe boarding experience.
2. To enable you to enjoy your time away from home content that your pet is receiving the best care possible.
What is a Boarding Kennel?
Throughout the United States and Canada, there are approximately 9,000 boarding kennels offering their services to more than 30,000,000 pet owners annually. Boarding kennels are businesses designed and operated specifically to care for pets, as distinguished from breeding kennels, which are devoted to producing puppies; training kennels, which take in dogs for hunting, protection, and other types of specialized training; and veterinary hospitals, which are designed to care for sick and injured animals. Most boarding kennels provide a variety of pet services, such as boarding, grooming, training classes, pet supply sales, and pet shipping. Although the vast majority of boarded pets are dogs and cats, many kennels also offer boarding for horses, birds, reptiles, and exotic pets.
What is the American Boarding Kennels Association?
A characteristic common to all boarding kennel operators is a deep love and respect for animals. This is their basic motivation for establishing their kennel. In 1977, however, a dedicated group of kennel operators recognized that the love of animals, by itself, was not enough to guarantee the development of professional standards of pet care within the industry. What was also needed were educational opportunities for kennel operators, to enable them to stay abreast of developments in pet care and to establish a method for promoting a high level of ethical conduct within the industry. To achieve these goals, these concerned kennel operators founded the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA).
Today the ABKA has a membership of almost 1,600 kennels throughout the U.S. and Canada. By means of its publications, conventions, seminars, regional meetings, ethics program, certification program for kennel operators, accreditation program for kennels, and industry committees, the Association helps member kennels to develop and maintain the highest professional and business standards. This in turn enables ABKA members to offer you, the pet owner, the most knowledgeable, ethical pet care available anywhere.
The goals of the ABKA member kennels are happy, healthy pets and satisfied pet owners. This requires a cooperative effort from kennel owner and pet owner. In the following pages, the ABKA, in response to numerous requests from pet owners, lists the features you should look for in selecting your kennel and suggests what you can do to ensure that your pet receives the best care possible. Let's start at the beginning.
There are several ways of locating the kennels that are convenient to you:
1. Yellow Pages: Yellow page advertising is the primary method of kennel advertising. Remember though, the size of the ad is no indication of the facility's quality.
2. Recommendations of friends: Satisfied customers are the best recommendation that a kennel can receive. Ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences. Check with your veterinarian or ask the kennel in question for references.
3. Better Business Bureau: If your community has a better Business Bureau, a phone inquiry about your local kennels is appropriate. Ask about a specific kennel's reputation and if any complaints have been lodged against them.
Evaluating a Kennel
After finding your local kennels, you can determine the one to use by:
1. Telephoning the kennel. Call to see if the kennel can accommodate your pet. During peak times such as the Christmas season and summer vacations, many kennels are booked up and cannot accept your pet. Also, because some pets require special handling or accommodations (very young puppies, animals on special medication or feeding schedules, or giant breeds, for example), all kennels may not accept them. While you are on the phone, make an appointment to visit the kennel.
2. Making a personal visit to the kennel. A personal visit is essential to determine whether the kennel will be satisfactory. During your visit, observe or ask about the following ...