Owners on vacation seek hotel-like accommodations for pets at home
By David Sharos For Sun-Times Media November 19, 2012 7:28PM
Leaving a pet home can be just as traumatic for pet owners as leaving their kids.
Here are some quick tips about day care options and what to look for:
Touring the complete facility is a must. Ask about resources for exercise and interaction with other dogs, and make sure the facility requires that animals have up-to-date vaccinations. Julie Nelson, owner of Paws in Time in West Chicago, said no dogs are allowed without evidence of a negative fecal test to make sure parasites aren’t spread.
Jason Michal, vice president of Pet Services and Hospitality in Chicago, says to look for staff with experience and specific training in animal care, animal behavior, and even recognizing or diffusing animal aggression. Jessica Stachelski, owner of Home Sweet Home Pet Services in Yorkville, adds that having staff members trained in pet CPR, first aid and dietary issues is important.
Be aware that some kennels offer a-la-carte services with extra costs tacked on, while day-care facilities tend to be all-inclusive. Costs, Nelson said, vary from about $25 to $35 a day for kennel service versus $55 to $70 per night for 24-hour pet hotel facilities.
Pets are required to be spade or neutered to be admitted to day-care service facilities.
Updated: December 22, 2012 6:06AM
While finding someone you trust to watch your child while going on vacation can be an ordeal, finding one for your pet can be just as traumatizing — or maybe even a little more.
According to recent study conducted by the Orbitz travel website, 33 percent of respondents said they felt bad about leaving their pet behind compared to 30 percent who expressed similar feelings about leaving their kids.
Jessica Stachelski, owner of Home Sweet Home Pet Services in Yorkville, says she feels the pain of pet owners with separation anxiety.
“Many people do have a hard time leaving pets over kids, since people figure children staying with an uncle or grandparent will also be able to fend for themselves, versus pets that are totally dependent on us,” Stachelski said. “People want to spend time to get to know me and see where and how their pet will be cared for, and know it’s going to be loved just like they would.”
Choosing a pet-sitting service or what some today call “pet hotels” involves knowing your animal’s needs and the type of services it will require. Jason Michal, vice president of Pet Services and Hospitality, which offers “pooch hotels” in Chicago in both the Lincoln Park and West Loop area, says the paradigm change in animals and the role they play today in families has had a huge impact on the animal day-care business.
“Just a few decades ago, many people considered dogs ‘outdoor pets,’ and now they are not only inside our homes, but in our beds, cars and purses as well,” Michal said. “The rise of the boarding and day-care market is driven both by the increase in dual-income working or single-pet parent families being away from home more often, as well as the humanization trend of our pets.”
Angie Wood, executive director of the Naperville Humane Society, agrees that the “mind set” — particularly as it relates to dogs — has shifted and that “the millions of dollars people spend on pets each year” explains why owners are more concerned about where they board them.
“The level of care today goes the full gambit from dogs kept in kennels to facilities that give dogs their own suite and have pools for them to play in,” Wood said. “People need to find a facility that fits their budget, but more importantly one that suits the needs of their pet. Our animals today are so much more integrated into our lives than they were 20 or 30 years ago and that’s why there are such a wide range of services.”
When it comes to finding the right facility for your pet, distance may not be an obstacle. Julie Nelson, owner of Paws in Time in West Chicago, says that at least 10 percent of her clientele comes from Naperville and that doggie taxi services are available if people need them.
“There are clients of ours that live in Naperville who are forced to leave early in the morning to catch a plane and want to leave their dog at home as long as possible,” she said. “We’ve had people who pre-arranged with us to come over and get their dog along with all the supplies ready and packed up.”
The best advice that experts offer about finding the right facility is to match one to your pet’s needs, from exercise and socialization to medical and dietary requirements. Nelson insists that “99 percent of all dogs are social animals” and function better in open settings.
“When your dog is happy, you’ll be happy and so there’s less stress on everybody,” she said.