The holidays are almost upon us. ‘Tis a time for festive revelry, indulging in good times with friends and family, as well as a well-deserved overseas break for yourself. Pet owners often engage the services of pet sitters, home boarders and commercial pet boarding hotels to care for their pets in this time while they are away, expecting that they will be in good care. But what happens when your worst nightmare comes true, and something dire happens to your pet when you’re miles away?
In Singapore, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority only provides licenses to a handful of pet farms for holiday pet boarding and care. This means that the majority of pet boarding service providers operate in a gray area as they are often unregistered with any gsovernment body, nor obligated to abide by a code of conduct such as the Code for Animal Welfare.
This comes across as alarming to many, given the fact that Singaporeans enjoy travelling so often. So how can pet owners identify a reputable pet boarding establishment or suss out a poor one? We show you 5 signs that indicate you should avoid a pet boarding facility at all costs.
1. Lack of Real Reviews
Searching for real, unfiltered reviews is without a doubt the easiest way to identify a reputable pet boarding facility. Best written by authentic, verified accounts, reading about the experiences of previous guests will give you a good idea of the establishment’s practices and how they were able to cater to pets from different walks of life.
2. It’s Too Easy
If placing a reservation for your pet is as simple as checking if your dates are available and whipping out your credit card, we’re going to have to ask you to hold it right there. A good pet boarding facility will never accept your payment without asking you screening questions, how you care for your pet, or confirm your booking without doing their due diligence. Chances are, they’re only after your money.
3. Site Visits Not Allowed
If you were leaving your child and going away, would you not want to at least see where they would be living to ensure they will be comfortable and that the premise is safe? The same goes for your cat or dog. If a pet boarding facility refuses, or is reluctant to let you visit the location, then stay away. A reputable pet boarding company understands the importance of being open, and the people working there should be happy to meet you and show off their facilities. Always ask to book a viewing appointment before committing.
4. Questionable Practices in Place
As the owner, the onus is on you to ask the right questions to see if you’ve found the right pet boarding facility for your precious pet. Is there a foul odour that might suggest poor hygiene routines? Is there a need for boarding pets to meet a set of guidelines before they are accepted to the facility for the safety of all pets who will be sharing the premise? What will your pet’s daily routine be like when you are away? A good pet boarding facility will have all the answers to your questions and be able to give you absolute clarity before asking you to make pre-payment or a deposit of any kind.
5. Untrained Staff
It’s easy enough to say that the people working at the pet boarding facility are pet lovers. But is that truly enough when it comes to caring for a pet that is not theirs? The harsh truth is, it is not. Caring for animals is tough work. There is an immense amount of cleaning to be done, knowledge of animal anatomy, nutrition, illness and disease to be learnt, as well as unfaltering levels of discipline and responsibility required of an individual who wishes to work around companion animals.
Whilst the industry is relatively unregulated, a reputable pet boarding facility should be founded by, and comprised of people who have a firm understanding of the requirements of pet care, and will ensure that their staff and facilities are well equipped for the task. If you are able to, speak to the staff working in the facility and ask about their prior experiences or how long they have been on the job. If you bring your pet and they will be the ones caring for it, your pet should feel comfortable around them.
Whether you’re intending to engage a pet sitter, home-based pet boarder or commercial pet boarding facility, make sure your choice does not raise any of the red flags we have covered above. Travelling away from your pet can be daunting at first, but balancing your need for rest and relaxation and finding reliable care for your beloved cat or dog is a necessary part of proper pet ownership.