Annabelle, the poor five-pound dog in this video, was mauled to death by two 20-pound beagles at a doggy daycare center. Her owners say they didn’t know she was going to get play time with other smallish dogs, but the boarding facility owners say it’s right there on the paperwork. In fact, it’s a feature a lot of dog owners probably love.
It’s a tragedy any way you slice it. A dog died a horrific death, her family — already having a hard time because of some life events– is bereft, and the dog facility owners aren’t exactly jumping for joy about the event or what it may mean for their business.
When you spend the money for a doggy daycare or boarding facility, you expect to be able to pick up a healthy, happy dog at the end of her stay. What happened to Annabelle was a freak incident, but was it preventable? With some homework on her owners’ part (if they didn’t want her playing with other dogs, they could have found out that this was part of the deal there, and requested otherwise), and much more vigilance on the facility owners’ part, the answer is yes. But really, who would have ever expected something to go so terribly awry? Her owners clearly care deeply for her, and would never have dreamed she was going to her death when they delivered her the day before.
What can you do to make sure your dog is safe and happy if she stays at one of these facilities while you’re at work or on vacation?
Get recommendations from others with dogs like yours. If Annabelle’s other small and delicate friends had stayed there, her owners may have known that playtime was part of the program, and requested her to just have contact with humans.
Ask about the ratio of dogs to workers supervising playtime. Situations with lots of dogs in a small area can go from normal to scary in a matter of seconds, even if the workers think they know the personalities of all the dogs. Having many eyes and hands available can nip problems in the bud before they escalate.
Check out a facility’s reviews on places like Yelp, and ask for general recommendations around your dog community. And be sure to inspect the place yourself, and know exactly what goes on during your dog’s day there. You don’t have to sign on the dotted line for everything. If you prefer your dog not have group playtime, that can be accommodated most of the time. (Although you may have to pay for extra one-on-one time with a human.)
If the facility has web cam service available, take advantage of it. You’ll be able to see what your dog is up to, and how she’s faring, whenever you go to “her website.” If she’s looking droopy or scared, you can call the facility to see if you can make her stay better for her.
Do you have any other suggestions, Dogsters?