Tips to find dog boarding in Columbus
Kelly Jo Marks
Who we talked to
Before joining Pet Palace, Kelly Jo Marks ran a Columbus-area marketing and public relations firm that promoted animal rescue groups and organized pet events like Westerville's Pooch Parade. Marks started leading the pack at Pet Palace in 2006.
"I think we're providing a good service," general manager Marks says of the boarding facility. "I think a lot of people don't go on vacation, because they are concerned about what to do with their pets. We give them peace of mind."
How can I make sure my pet has a happy stay?
"You need to understand how the boarding facility operates and know your own expectations. Does your dog go outside or is he inside the whole time? What do the pet accommodations look like and what are their sizes? What's the pets-per-staff-member ratio? What kind of food do they serve, and do you need to bring your own food? What vaccinations are required?
"It's important to see the facility first. And use your senses. Not only seeing it but smelling it. Are they keeping this place clean? It's about matching the facility to your pet. For example, a lot of pets have different routines, so something close to that normal routine will probably keep your pet more relaxed. We walk the dogs twice a day. They're getting human contact in that walk. Being in a more urban area, that is what most dogs are used to.
"For dogs, a toy or blanket that smells like home sometimes helps them be more comfortable. It's good to bring one or two things; he's not going to play with all 20 of his toys. If your pet has a sensitive stomach, it's probably best to keep him on his own food.
"Facilities have different policies for requiring vaccinations for the animals who board there. Rabies, bordetella and DHPP vaccinations are important for dogs. If you are in a rural area, they might require an immunization for leptospirosis. Cats might need rabies and FVRCP immunizations, as well as for feline leukemia. I'd talk to your vet as well and ask what they think is important.
"I think the boarding industry is really changing. More extras are offered now, like spa service and playtime with other pets. People can go to pet resorts, an environment that much more mimics homelife. I like there to be ample space for animals to stretch and move around in their accommodations. If the dog goes to the bathroom, he then can get away from it. For cats, it could be a vertical space for climbing.
"There's no regulation for boarding facilities in Columbus. The Pet Care Services Association is our trade group, so you might check if the facility is a member. It shows that they're interested in continuing education and tracking trends and safety issues.
"Ask the facility how they handle health emergencies. Do they have staff trained to recognize health issues? You want to have a clear idea of what happens when there is an emergency and when they will notify the pet owner."