By LAURIE M. FISHER
Your family's holiday travel itinerary is set. Whether you jet to a tropical resort or seek comfort at grandma's house, make sure you arrange for Fido's accommodations as well as your own.
Finding a safe, clean and caring environment for your furry friend requires some research. Check with your veterinarian or other pet owners for boarding kennel recommendations. But before you load up the car and drop off Spot, visit the kennel to inspect the facility and interview the staff. If a kennel won't provide a tour, cross it off your list.
Scent sense: A local veterinarian and kennel owners advise that your nose can be your guide when you choose a kennel for your canine companion.
"Your nose is going to tell you if a facility is not clean and ventilated," said Marylou Wittenauer, a veterinarian at Belmont Veterinary Clinic. "Odors should be minimal."
Ask several key questions during your kennel tour. Besides smells, owners should check for area debris and overall cleanliness. Determine how often runs are sanitized and drinking water is changed.
"This is not a hotel. It's more like day care," Wittenauer noted. She recommended owners talk to kennel workers and take note of their attitude. Find out whether the animals will be walked and how often they are fed, she suggested. Make sure facilities are heated above 60 degrees in the winter and air-conditioned during the summer.
Vaccine: Many kennels administer medication as well as provide transportation to emergency veterinary facilities if required. Most kennels require vaccination records and some recommend the kennel cough or Bordatella vaccine. Bordatella is an airborne virus that causes tracheo bronchitis in animals.
"While it is rarely fatal, it is a real nuisance," Wittenauer explained. "Once it gets into a kennel it is hard to get out. It usually requires massive cleaning. The vaccination reduces probability of trouble."
Animals should have room to exercise. An open area gives pets room to run, but grass can also be a breeding ground for intestinal worms. Concrete runs minimize potential parasites. The vet also said to insist on keeping animals on leashes to avoid escapes.
Inquire about pickup and delivery hours. At Ridgeview Kennel in Hubbard, manager Diane Adamson says owners can pick up pets at designated times in the morning or early evening. This reduces the possibility of the animals' being disturbed by people randomly coming and going, she explained.
Enjoys her work: Adamson said she take pleasure in her job because she loves the dogs and enjoys different breeds. She particularly loves the senior dogs as well as puppies.
Ridgeview can accommodate up to 20 dogs in the kennels that have outside and inside runs. Adamson cleans the kennels and feeds and exercises the dogs three times per day. Adamson said she talks to owners about the pets.
"The dog might be hyper at first, but we take some time to get acquainted," she noted.
She recommends that people look at the facility to make sure all the dogs have water and that workers seem to care about the dogs. While she has information on each dog's veterinarian, she has an agreement with a local vet for emergencies.
Many of her regular charges are happy to arrive. They are barking and bouncing and ready to go into the kennel, she said.
Jim Evans, owner of Evans Kennels in Berlin Center, recommends that people board dogs when they are puppies (after 4 to 5 months of age) so they get used to the surroundings and the boarding procedures. Many of Evans' boarding dogs know his facility since they attended obedience training there.
Jo-Glen Kennel: Linda McClary, owner of Jo-Glen Kennel in Girard, said her kennel can accommodate up to 60 animals. Dogs and cats are kept in separate rooms of the same building. Because she lives on the kennel property, she checks the animals around 6:30 a.m., around 10:30 p.m. and several times throughout the day.
McClary talks to owners about their animal's temperament. She looks for information as to whether an animal is aggressive, is shy or has special needs.
Kennel owners recommend early reservations for holidays and summer months. Most rates around town vary from $9 to $15 per day. The price often depends on the size of the dog.