Kennel safety: What pet owners need to know

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by Jamie Grey

NWCN.com

Posted on February 7, 2013 at 9:21 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 12:41 AM

BOISE -- Many cities, like Boise, have rules about personally owning a lot of dogs or cats and require people to be licensed and checked, but keeping track of a large number of other people's pets doesn't require the same type of procedure.

Kennels just need a business license and in standard zoning approval. Some pet owners who've had problems at kennels say they'd like to see some rules, and animal experts say for now, a lack of regulation is simply a reason for pet owners to do their own checks.

Kimberly Wright is one dog owner who had a negative kennel experience in Boise. Her Boxer Moe became deathly ill several months ago.

"I got a phone call at work that he was vomiting, bringing up some foam, and he was drooling extremely bad," Wright said.

Wright rushed him to the vet, who told her Moe had been poisoned, she says possibly by cleaning chemicals.

"[The vet] called me about two hours later, and said there was more dogs coming from the same facility, stating they were also having the same problems," Wright said.

Wright says five other dogs were hospitalized with Moe.

"He was at the vet's for about a week. He was on five or six medications and they finally had to tube him because of the sores in his mouth and the burns," Wright said.

KENNELS NOT A REGULATED BUSINESS

Now, Moe goes to Camp Bow Wow, which operates in Boise and Meridian. Co-owner Beth Peterson says Moe's is just one of many horror stories she's heard of animals at other kennels escaping or getting seriously hurt.

"These things do happen, and unless you know everyone in the doggie community, you may not hear about it, and it could be happening where you take your dog," Peterson said. "There are situations we have heard of through our own clientele of dogs being injured very seriously and/or escaping."

Peterson says it's even more difficult to know what's going on because there are no rules or licenses, beyond those zoning requirements and a standard business license.

"I think a lot of guardians do assume it's a regulated business, and in all reality, no, it is not," Peterson said. "So there's a lot of dog and cat facilities out there, that really it's on the whim of whoever built it and what they feel is a safety standard."

We talked to Boise veterinarian, Dr. Sohaila Maleki, a co-owner of Habitat Veterinary Health Center, to get her take on area kennels and any problems.

"It's rare. It is rare. We have such great facilities that it is rare to hear about an accident or problems," Dr. Maleki said.

But before putting an animal in someone else's care, she says owners should do some checking around.

PET OWNERS SHOULD DO THEIR HOMEWORK

"Some things can happen. You just want to take the right precautions before you leave them at a facility," Maleki said. "I would go make an appointment to have a tour, and I would also drop in unannounced."

Maleki says it's important to look for a place that accommodates your pets needs, like separating big and small animals if yours is particularly aggressive or timid, having high fences if yours is a high-jumper, and always keeping chemicals out of reach.

"Make sure that the one that you choose has a close relationship with a veterinarian, so that you know that if anything happens while you're gone, they will take the next step and take your dog to the veterinarian if they need to," Maleki said.

Maleki also says vaccinations are another big part of keeping your pet safe. She says vet-recommended shots and monthly de-worming medications are especially important when dogs have close contact with other animals, like in a kennel or daycare.

Moe's owner says she now asks more questions, but she would also welcome some rules for this type of business.

"I never thought about that. But now that we've been through, we think something should be done," Wright said.

Peterson says her facility, Camp Bow Wow, would be well-poised and ahead of the game if any regulations or laws came about because of the precautions she's decided to take as an owner. But she too advises all owners to take tours and ask veterinarians and friends for recommendations.

"It's really up to the dog guardian to find out that information themselves," Peterson said. "They need to get out there and they need to take tours, both front of the house and back of the house and see what kind of safety precautions are in place, or aren't in place."

Wright says the original kennel where Moe got sick did pick up the vet bills, though Wright says she won't go back.

KTVB spoke with Animal Control about this topic and officers say while there aren't regulations for commercial kennels, they will absolutely respond and check on any complaints about a facility that might indicate animal neglect or abuse.

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