Pet boarding

What do you want to know

June 12 – For pet owners leaving town on vacation without their pets, boarding is an option, but it does require advance preparations.

Reputable pet boarders require up-to-date vaccinations and advance booking is advised. Boarders say their goal is to make the animals feel comfortable when they are separated from their owner.

Monica Jones of Decatur said boarding Gus, her 4-year-old, 70-pound dog, was easier than taking him on a trip. She said she babysits him about three times a year for four to five days at a time at Osborne Animal Clinic’s Lucky Dog Daycare in Decatur.

“It’s his home away from home,” Jones said. “They make them really comfortable.”

She said she had been using Lucky Dog for three years and left a blanket and Gus’ favorite stuffed animal with him. She calls and checks on Gus every day he’s there and says she likes the photos sent to the owners.

Judy Morris, head of Lucky Dog Daycare, said when an owner takes their dog or cat to a vet, care is already nearby if the animal needs treatment.

“If they got sick, we have staff available to care for the animal,” Morris said. “Often if the dog is older or sick and can’t travel, they want to leave them somewhere they know they’re being well cared for by people who can handle whatever’s going on.”

Lucky Dog and Brammer Farms: The Shaggy Hound Pet Hotel and Daycare in Hartselle requires the cats and dogs they house to be vaccinated against rabies. Additionally, dogs should be vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper, and Bordetella (kennel cough). Lucky Dog also requires a coronavirus vaccination for dogs. Brammer Farms requires proof of flea and tick prevention, and a combined feline/distemper vaccination is also required for cats.

At Lucky Dog, pets are examined upon arrival to ensure they are free from parasites such as fleas, ticks and worms. They are examined again before returning home.

“We have an option where you can just board, which means you sleep and walk around three times a day,” Lucky Dog’s Morris said. “Or you can get on board and go to daycare during the day. If you go to daycare, you go out at 8:30 a.m., spend the day at daycare, and then come back to the clinic at 5:30 p.m.,” says Morris.

Depending on the size of the animal, the clinic can accommodate up to 45 dogs and cats at a time. People can bring their own food or the clinic will take care of it.

“We let you bring your own blanket, bed, toys, just so the dog is as comfortable as possible with the things he’s familiar with,” Morris said.

There is no minimum or maximum time an animal can be boarded. The charge for dogs is $23 to $36 per day depending on their weight with an additional $15 for daycare. Boarding a cat costs $20 per day.

Brammer Farms has similar prices. Dog boarding at the farm costs $30 per day. Feline boarding is $20 per day with an additional $6 for both during peak days. There is a $35 non-refundable deposit.

Jones said she paid Lucky Dog the extra amount for daycare while Gus boarded, and he seemed to treat boarding as his vacation.

“He’s ready to get out of the car. He’s not even saying goodbye,” Jones said.

Tammye Brammer owns Brammer Farms, which can house between 35 and 40 dogs and five cats at a time. She said some people would rather house animals than have a pet sitter come into their home.

“I’ve seen a lot of cases where they don’t show up as they say, they change their minds on the way or the dogs have strayed from them because they don’t know them, and the dog loses while people are out of town,” Brammer said.

Brammer and her family live on site and she said they have trained staff in areas such as pet CPR and are insured. “We can provide safety and security so they (owners) can feel safe and comfortable on their journey.”

On the farm, the dogs regularly play outside, come in to rest and then head back outside, Brammer said. The staff are with the animals from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., then the dogs are out again from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

“We always say your dog should have fun on vacation, too.”

The cats went out several times a day to interact and play with the masters.

The farm kennels have air conditioning and heating and include a cot. Brammer said they ask owners to bring only one toy, but no bedding, as it is a potential choking hazard. Cat houses include a litter box and a bed.

Brammer Farms asks owners to bring their pet’s food. Photographs of animals are sent to owners throughout their stay. There is no minimum or maximum time an animal can be boarded.

The farm is already booked until August. Brammer said pet owners should always make reservations early, but especially if they’re traveling during the summer and during vacations.

Morris also insisted on advance reservations for pet boarding. “As soon as they book their hotel, their plane ticket, whatever they buy, they should just make it part of their booking.”

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