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Article we wrote for national pet magazine.

green acresWhat happened this past weekend at the Green Acre Kennel in Gilbert is a tragedy. Over 20 dogs perished after an irresponsible and unprofessional business left way too many dogs in a 10 X 10 laundry room. Still under investigation, it is believed that the dog(s) chewed the wire to the air conditioning unit that was in the window, sparking a fire or electrocution to the dogs  that were trapped in that small room.

Our article yesterday about Lessons We Can Learn had over 1500 hits and today we hope to continue that education by expressing why, you, as a pet Mom or Dad should NOT be afraid to leave your pets this 4th of July weekend. Reading through all the comments on FB I have seen pet owners make remarks like:

“This is why I will never go on a vacation. I don’t trust anyone to leave my pets with.”

I understand 100% why any pet owner would be fearful after hearing about an incident like this but I urge you to arm yourself with education and facts. Fear often comes from the unknown. In this instance it is the unknown of “Will my pet(s) be safe?” “Will the pet care provider treat them like their own?” and more…

As a pet care provider who has been operating in the Scottsdale area for over 12 years I wanted to offer up these tips for pet parents who are looking for pet care providers:

(1.) Not All Options Are Best For Every Pet.

Pet Taxi

Car ride!

Pets are just kids trapped in fur suits, right? So every pet is different. Knowing your pets needs will really help determine which solution is right for you.

Kennels - Dogs that get along with others. Adapt to different environments better than others. Are socialized and love to play in play groups. Don’t mind loud sounds or change of environment. Love car rides! Downside to this is pick up and drop off times outside of business hours and inability to get daily updates.

In Your Home Pet Sitting - Some only will eat when they are at home.  Some are old and like to lay on their bed and have all the sights, smells, and sounds say home.  Pets have a strict routine and like to be walked. Pets don’t like riding in the car or parents can’t get them in the car. Parents like to come home to their pets without having to transport them. This option will also offer the pet parent a peace of mind phone call, email, or text message with pictures each day. So go, enjoy your day on the beach knowing your pet is well cared for.

In Another Home Boarding - Some simply can’t stay home alone, but being in a facility isn’t a good option either. For these pets, in home boarding is usually a great option. Although, if doing the in home boarding, it is always important to know if it is private (only your pets) or group (other pets as well). How often the person will be home. Will the pets ever be unattended. What their back up plan is? How safe is their perimeter including pool gates and multiple barriers to help prevent escaping. Warning: It is better to go with a professional company who makes it their full time living than someone you can find on the internet doing this work on the side.

(2.) What Is The Business’ Reputation?

Article we wrote for national pet magazine.

Article we wrote for national pet magazine.

Key word is BUSINESS. Are they listed with the state?  Do they have insurance? What types? There is business liability insurance (in case anything happens and they are negligent) bonding (dishonesty), and workman’s compensation (if the worker gets hurt on the job). I can’t tell you how many pet care companies would appear to be professional but don’t hold the basic liability insurance. Although, please be aware that just because they have paid for it, doesn’t mean that they are automatically a great company. Just take a look what happened with this pet sitting company.

If you are looking for a pet care provider, ask your veterinarian. Do they know anyone personally? Would they leave their own pets with the business? Ask your friends on social media who they trust. Take a good look at the business’ website. Does it look like they have enough pride in creating a professional website or does it look like a 3rd grader did it? Do they answer their phone when you call? Are they easily accessible?

(3.) How Did You Feel After Your Meeting Or Tour?

We all have a 6th sense. Use it!  When you toured the facility, met the pet sitter, or did a visit to the home that was going to be taking your dog in… how did you feel? What did it smell like, if it were a a facility? Was the pet sitter punctual and professional? Was the home clean and safe for dogs? Did you click with the person. Did you feel warm and fuzzy? Were you able to reach them when you needed them via phone or email? Did your pets like them? This is the toughest part of explain because it is more of a feeling.

dog walker in scottsdale

(4.) What Is The Companies Training?

Anyone who is taking care of pets NEEDS to know about how they function and basic first aid care. No, growing up with pets or just “loving” pets does not qualify them either. Knowing what to look for to see if a pet is experiencing heat stroke, or what to do if they have heat exhaustion, or perhaps knowing what temperature is too to hot to walk them because it will burn the pads of their feet. If it isn’t hot, does the professional understand what other conditions to look for, like bloat? There is so much to know about pets and equally as much to know about running a pet care business. Any dog kennel facility should have training on canine body language and breaking up dog fights. Don’t be afraid to ask “What would you do?” questions and ask how and where they learned.

(5.) Research Online

One of your best defenses, I believe, is doing a google search on the business’ name. Find out how much has been written about them. Do they come up on multiple pages? Have they done things in their community? Won awards? Written blogs? Been published? Good reviews? Bad reviews? (A note about bad reviews… no one on this earth is perfect. I would be weary of a business who didn’t have ANY bad reviews, but how they reply to them matters. Don’t be afraid to ask them about the review either!) Google can’t lie and once it is online, it is there forever. Check their social media. Are they socially responsible? Their online footprint will tell you a lot about them.

Don’t Be Scared To Leave Town!

I can’t tell you the countless amounts of people who have called me with bad experiences from previous pet care decisions. It is a tough hill to climb once your trust has been broken. You want to do everything possible to prevent it. A good pet care professional should know and understand this if you express it to them. Heck, we do! :) In fact we have a ton of respect for those who really put us through the tough questions and not just say “Hi! I found you on Google, here are the keys to my house and my pets.”  As a business owner, I WANT to prove our integrity to you and I would say that any serious business owner who cares about their business would feel the same way. Please, don’t let these tragic events sway you to never leave your pets again. We get clients on a monthly basis who call us with these exact fears, and we are able to turn them into raving fans.

If you are reading this and still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I don’t care where you are in the valley or what types of pet care services you are looking for. If you would like help in making your decision or know if we would trust our own pets with the company you are considering… shoot me an email. I would love to hear from you. The contact form is to the right.

green acres

green acres gilbertI understand pet parents are upset over the recent news out of Gilbert and the Green Acre’s “boarding facility” It makes me sick too.

As a pet sitting business owner for over 12 years, and seeing a lot of businesses come and go, I have learned a lot and I hope to offer you 6 lessons to really consider this summer for all pet parents. 

To me, there were so many things wrong with this business and I use the word “business” lightly. It was even published that they did it for friends and family for a very long time and only a year ago started doing it for the public. Unfortunately, this happens all too much in the pet care industry. Some, get greedy with the money and don’t stop and think of the responsibility that comes with owning and operating a pet care company.

This is in no way to bash anyone. Not pet sitters, kennels, pet parents, or the State. But there are certain obvious problems that I just can’t wrap my head around. I hope that this helps educate the public on what to really look for, what is important, and more importantly what isn’t important.

My heart goes out to the pet owners who trusted Green Acres with their pets. I know more than anyone that your pet IS your child. After all, if you look up at the top of this website, you will see Rocco, my fur kid. It is why I started my company, so we could take care of your kids in the comfort of their own home. My heart also goes out to the owners of this facility. I do not believe that they meant for any of this to happen. I think they made a tragic mistake in thinking they knew business and then it snowballed when they didn’t handle it all the correct way.  I believe that they just saw a way to make money, not understanding the exponential amount of responsibility that comes with caring for living animals. It isn’t as easy as everyone thinks it is. It is a very real responsibility.

 

6 Lessons From The Green Acre Tragedy To Consider:

 

  • You should ALWAYS know the facility in which your pets will be staying. A tour of the facility including areas where the pets sleep, eat, play, and hangout. If anyone is unwilling to let you see the facility, leave. This tour is important to use all your senses. SEE the cleanliness and the restraints from preventing the dogs from getting loose. Are there bugs? Sticky floors? SMELL the oder. LISTEN to the noise. It is common for the dogs to be barking when you walk through, but what about before you did? Your overall FEELING?  If it is no kennel, how do they ensure that the other pets coming in are not sick? How are they trained to know their temperament? There is SO MUCH!!! I could go on and on….
  • There needs to be stricter laws for kennels and boarding in our cities and counties. There has been SUCH A HUGE rise in all these “hobby sitters” or “hobby kennels” starting up…. (a lot of them) do not have the proper insurance, facilities, care, or arrangement to properly and healthfully care for these pets. For example, every facility should have TWO barriers to the “outside”  In all the picture I have seen of Green Acres, there is a 5 foot chain linked fence. That was it. Any dog could jump that. Also, a 10 X 10 area for 20 dogs is not safe. How much insurance should a facility be required to carry? Should this insurance only be for the business liability or also for the structure of the home/facility as well? What about for the workers? What would happen if your dog bit one of the workers? Saying you have “insurance” is way to vague. The business owner and the pet owner needs to know what that protection means exactly.
  • Will this finally lead to legislation for kennels in our State? That is what will change things. How did the dogs even get to the AC wires? Why weren’t they all in a kennel? What would have happened if they all got in a dog fight? No one was checking on them all night long. No surveillance or emergency alarms. These are basic necessities that all kennels should have as a STANDARD. But when they are not regulated by the state… anyone can do anything they want. This company appears to have a Vistaprint website. That is the cheapest thing a business can do and just shows that they aren’t serious about their business. The only thing I have seen in Arizona is that you need to obtain a kennel license for $75. If you don’t, you can be fined $25.Source: http://www.animallaw.info/statutes/stusazst11_1014.htm   SS11-109 If I have missed anything here, I would welcome the redirect to more accurate or robust information in the comment section of this blog.
  • The best thing any pet parent can do is arm themselves with information. I heard that one of the pet parents did a background check on one of the owners. That is all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t mean ANYTHING It is exactly why I wrote a blog a while back about what do references really mean? The things that matter (IMO) are public recognition. Communities leaders vouching for the business. Their involvement in the community. Basically, their REPUTATION.
  • Cheapest isn’t always the best. Dropping a dog off at someone’s residential house may sound like a cost effective way to obtain pet care, but is it really? That is why the popular popping up of all these care.com and rover.com and dogvacay.com really scare me. They give non business owners a chance to make a quick buck while giving the pet parent the false sense of security about their pets.
  • This isn’t the last time this is going to happen. I hate to say this, but it is the truth. It doesn’t just happen in kennels, it happens with pet sitters too. Check out this story from a few years ago where this pet sitter killed pets in her care. I believe the only way we have to combat this terrible tragedy is to 1 – EDUCATE pet parents on what facilities are safe. I try to do this constantly with our blog with over 300 articles on everything under the sun. 2 – LOBBY for proper legislation for kennels in the State of Az so that any Joe Shmoe can’t open one up.

 

So How Can You Have Peace Of Mind Next Time You Need Pet Care?

If I didn’t own a professional pet sitting company, here are the things I would do if I was looking for a kennel for my beloved Rocco.

  • Do a tour (unexpected) of the facility.
  • Take mental note of the smell, sound and feeling of the facility.
  • See the barriers they have in place to avoid the pets from escaping.
  • Look at the enclosures the pets are contained in.
  • Find out the limit of pets they will have in their facility.
  • Make them prove they are registered with the city/state.
  • See a proof of their insurance.
  • If “kennel free” I would investigate the magnitude of the staff and how they are trained at dog behavior including temperament tests.
  • Google the business’ name to see if anything came up.
  • Check them out on social media to see how social responsible they area. This gives you an idea of how much of a “business” they are and not a hobby (In my opinion)
  • I would ask your vet what they know about them and if they would ever bring their own pets there.
  • I would ask my friends on social media who they recommend.

This all being said, if you are in the Scottsdale area the only kennel I would ever recommend and bring my own “fur kid” to is Hillside Unleashed. They are an exemplary facility that every kennel should model after! Our hearts, prayers, and thoughts go out to all of those effected by the is tragedy. No doubt about it, your pets will be there waiting for you on the other side of Rainbow Bridge    

rescue a dog

 

Recently in Central Phoenix, a 6 month old Pit Bull puppy died after being locked in a hot car. The outside temperature was a sweltering 110 degrees. If you saw this dog locked in the car, would you have broken the window to rescue that dog? Would it have been legal? The question was raised and there has been a lot of conversation debating the legalities of doing exactly that.

Azfamily.com reported on this debate and spoke with attorney Russ Richelsoph. In a nutshell, here’s what they found out.

 

When Is It Legal To Break Someone’s Car Window In Attempt To Rescue A Dog?

Mr. Richelsoph stated that it would be rare for a person to be charged with a crime in an attempt to save a dog from the sweltering heat citing the Necessity Defense. The Necessity Defense essentially means that “breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law”. He goes on to say that the police will consider these things when deciding if your decision to break the window in attempt to rescue the dog was warranted:

  1. How much is the dog suffering?
  2. Will the dog die if the window is not broken?
  3. Is there time to call the authorities and wait for their help?
  4. Can the owner be found quickly and in enough time to save the dog?

“You should really call the police or call the fire department before you do it,” said Richelsoph.

If you are unsure if a dog trapped in a hot vehicle is suffering from heat stroke, here are some of the signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Salivation
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unusually red gums and/or tongue
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to stand up

 

service area pet sitterI recently attended a Pet Expo and had the opportunity to stop at and speak with many pet sitters at their booths.  I noticed a trend happening in the Scottsdale pet sitting community that I wanted to make you aware of.

As more and more pet sitting companies start popping up in the Scottsdale area, some of these pet sitting companies are spreading themselves too thin.  You might be thinking “What are you talking about, Bella?”  Well, what I’m saying is that more companies are expanding their service area.  This sounds good – in theory however, many companies do not have enough pet sitters employed to SAFELY cover that large area.  Pet sitters are having to driving quite a distance to cover all of their scheduled pet visits in one day.  This could be problematic and does not present the most secure option for pet or pet parent.

Here at Bella’s we keep small service territories.   ALL of our pet sitters live within a 10 mile radius (at the most) of the homes they service.  This means we are always close by!

 

 

Why Is This Important?

  • Emergencies! We can be there within minutes.  Last week one of our clients was hospitalized.  Things happen!
  • Funerals or other last minute out-of-town trips! We’re there when time is of the essence
  • Last minute meetings at work or after work doctor’s appointments! Or hey, maybe the hunk in the cubicle asked you out! (You never know!)
  • Traffic due to accidents or pokey drivers!  Need I say more than “RUSH HOUR!
  • If the Pet Sitter breaks down or has their own emergency, we have other sitters on hand that can fill in!  Serving a smaller service area with sitters living in close proximity can mean all the difference!

We serve a more condensed area because from experience we know that emergencies happen and sometimes the best laid plans can fail.  Our protocol always includes a plan B. Our decisions always include you and your furry babies that’s why we don’t extend our service areas.  Use caution and think ahead.

 

Keep This In Mind When Searching For A Professional Pet Sitter:

When you’re interviewing a pet sitter in Scottsdale, find out: how close the pet sitter lives, do they have a plan B, what is their plan B, as well as how big of an area they serve.  Don’t think “it will never happen to me”.  We’ve been in business far too long and have seen it all. We want you to be prepared for the unimaginable.   Call us at Bella’s House and Pets….We plan for your happiness, your pet’s happiness and ….we know you don’t want pet urine on your carpet!

We often hear about how pets have separation anxiety when their human counterparts leave them alone.  However, there is much separation anxiety to be had on the part of the pet Mommies and Daddies out there too!  Many pet parents experience terrible separation anxiety and worry when they leave pets alone while they go to work or vacation.  In some cases, it’s so severe that some pet parents opt not to even take vacations unless they can bring their dog!  This limits their options and is completely unnecessary!!   Well, I am here to tell you some great ideas on how to help with pet parent seperation anxiety.

In some cases, separation anxiety is so severe that some pet parents opt not to even take vacations unless they can bring their dog!

Great Ideas to Help With Anxiety:

Find a pet sitter that will love on your pet like you do. Someone who will keep your pet on a schedule that mirrors his every day schedule with you!  Your professional pet sitter will play with your pet, exercise, feed and cuddle with them just like any ordinary day in his life.

At Bella’s we actually stay with your pet until the job is done whether that takes 20 minutes or an 40 minutes with no extra cost to our clients!  We stay and play until your pet has had so much fun that he cries “Uncle”!  We leave your pet played out and contented so you , as the pet parent, don’t have to worry about what your pet is doing or how lonely he’s feeling while you’re away! This will help keep your anxiety to a minimum because we truly DO care!!

Another way we help minimize pet parent anxiety is that we communicate.  We keep our pet parents “in the know”!  When you hire Bella’s you never have to wonder how your pet is doing because we keep our pet parents updated!!  What does that look like?  We will send you text updates, or emails, and we can even call and chat you up while you’re away.  Imagine sipping pretty umbrella drinks on a crystal beach somewhere and receiving up to date photos and text messages about all the fun Fido and Fifi are having with us while you’re away.  You will breathe a sigh of relief and who knows, maybe next year you’ll take two vacations! We promise to take care of our pet clients as well as you, the pet parents.  We can ease your separation anxiety as well as your pets.  Call us and we’ll explain all the ways that we help pet parents deal with their separation anxiety! Or…. just take a look at this short 30 second clip. Watch how we care for this kitty named Toonces:

 

 

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