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VOL 6 • ED 4

JULY / AUG 2016


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FROM THE EDITOR A REFLECTION OF YOU Within the following pages, you will find multiple articles relating to employee training, policies, and procedures. If you are a facility owner, you, of all people, know how important all of those things are. They Rebecca Shipman Managing Editor

make your facility run smoother and safer, and everyone’s on the same page. Say one of your employees forgets to

ask a client checking in if their dog has been exhibiting any recent signs of illness. And the client doesn’t think to mention that hacking noise the dog has been making since last week’s visit to the dog park. Fast forward three days and now you have a crisis on your hands. Even if the root of the problem is identified (employee not following the correct check–in process), all the owners of the sick dogs and next week’s clients who now have to make other arrangements, are not going to be blaming that one employee. They will be blaming the facility, which translates to you, as the owner. Employees who are given clear direction, extensive training, and plenty of feedback will have the opposite effect on your company. Compliments and good reviews will be rolling in. Again, this will reflect on you/your facility, so it’s your job to praise the outstanding employees and encourage them to want to keep up the good work. If you are a one-man (or woman) show, all of this still applies to you. You want your procedures to be consistent and you want to be prepared for any situation that may arise. So instead of “flying by the seat of your pants”, take some time to sit down and write up your own handbook. What if you do end up needing to hire help? This is one task that you’ll be able to effortlessly check off the list with a smile on your face.

STAFF PUBLISHER Barkleigh Productions, Inc. EXECUTIVE EDITOR Rebecca Shipman ART DIRECTOR Laura Pennington GRAPHIC DESIGNER Jenn Barraclough WEB DESIGNERS Lance Williams Luke Dumberth PRESIDENT Todd Shelly CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER Adam Lohr DIRECTOR OF MARKETING James Severs MARKETING COORDINATOR Alex Robertson CONTACT General: (717) 691-3388 Editorial: (ext. 225) Advertising: (ext. 224)

Maybe you are an employee and all of this is out of your hands. If you think your company needs a little more structure, make a suggestion! In this industry, your days are not “cut and dry”; they are not clock in, sit at desk, clock out. They are dog fights, injuries, messes, and hopefully a lot of fun. Make it a little easier on yourself by adding some structure to your days so you can be proud of your business, your employees, and that person looking back at you in the mirror.



Copyright July 2016. Pet Boarding & Daycare is published bimonthly by Barkleigh Productions, Inc, 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. Postmaster: Send change of address to Pet Boarding & Daycare c/o Barkleigh Productions, Inc., 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. Editorial offices: 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. (717) 691–3388 FAX (717) 691–3381 Email:

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and daycare magazine JULY / AU G U ST 2 0 1 6









L Animal Health

Behavior 8


“He’s Never Done that Before!” The Magic Words of Dog Ownership


Business 18 Making Money on Pet Boarding in the

Veterinary Hospital

Successful Safety & Health Program


Safety First to Avoid the Worst: Creating a

Boarding Blind or Deaf Cats

quirks or stressful events the dog has encountered during the visit. Trigger Stacking All employees should understand the importance and impact trigger stacking has on the dog. Trigger stacking happens when dogs are not able to completely destress from one stressful event or situation before another one occurs. When a few minimally stressful events occur around the same time, they become equal to one very stressful situation. What you’ll see is a dog that responds to a minor event as if it is catastrophic.

Keep Your Business Healthy During a Canine Cough Outbreak


54 Product News


54 Classifieds

36 Setting Your Boarding Business


same principle applies to employees. At times it can seem counter intuitive to be overly cautious, but I’ve found that erring on the side of caution reduces big unexpected costs while improving customer and employee satisfaction in the long run. Following is a list of unseen injuries and how to spot them. Staff members should be taught and encouraged to share any and all strange behaviors with each other in writing so information is not lost during a shift change. Something quick and easy, such as a whiteboard on the dog’s kennel, is a perfect place to record

Industry News


etting employees know directly that safety is the highest priority is good, but specifically explaining that dog and human safety is secondary to the workday being productive can make a huge impact. Without directly expressing this over and over, it is more likely that the staff member will make a decision based on being productive and set themselves and the dog up for an injury. During the employee training session, I always admit to employees that a bored dog isn’t ideal but it beats an injured dog every day of the year. The

By Kama Brown

Apart from the Rest





H e ’s t a h T e n Do


wnership O g o D f o Words The Magic

By Gary W

By Melissa Viera


e all know dogs. We know what they do. We humans have been around them for about 15,000 years. You could sit down and list most of their known behaviors off the top of your head. They run, they bark, they bite, they chew things. They also nuzzle, snuggle, lick, pee, poop and roll in noxious, decayed things. Despite our collective knowledge of canines, one of the most common, naïve comments by people is “he’s never done that before.” This isn’t a casual comment like saying it’s the first time your nine– month–old male dog lifted his leg, it’s usually a response to some bizarre or tragic event—like my neighbor’s dog that slipped out of the gate yesterday, followed the family car down the street and across a busy thoroughfare. He



As a person involved in a dog’s life outside the immediate family, you are in a perfect position to help your clients get savvy. The direct benefit for them is a less frustrating and potentially much longer life with their pet. didn’t make it. The father explained why they were so surprised by the dog’s behavior by saying the magic words— he never did that before. He certainly isn’t going to do that again. Be Prepared: Savvy Pet Ownership Revealed The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” If you weigh that against the “he never did that before” mantra you will instantly see which one works


best. One assumes that any behavior a dog can do is possible. The other lives in a world where if it hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t require a moment’s consideration. As a person involved in a dog’s life outside the immediate family, you are in a perfect position to help your clients get savvy. The direct benefit for them is a less frustrating and potentially much longer life with their pet. For you, retaining a client is a very

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AGGRESSION Most dogs are capable of skilled, serious aggression. As infants, they play-fight with miniature ferocity until they become adept at using aggression.

good thing. Here are some suggestions of simple topics you can bring up in a conversation to get your clients thinking about what their dogs can and may do, someday.

the family. Being able to ask questions about a dog’s development makes the perfect entre into suggesting training in advance of the need to react to an aggressive event.

Aggression Most dogs are capable of skilled, serious aggression. As infants, they play-fight with miniature ferocity until they become adept at using aggression. This behavior is often allowed to develop as the pup grows to maturity. While the act of play–fighting may lay dormant for many months, the dog still gains coordination, speed, and stamina as it ages. If some event triggers the aggression when the dog is an adult, we hear the magic words. The most common times to watch out for aggression are the advent of sexual maturity, (about 8–9 months) social maturity (12–24 months) and when new dogs are introduced into

Home Security One of the behaviors most likely to lead to “Gee, he’s never done that before,” revolves around outdoor gates, front doors, and garage doors. There is a reason why every municipality has dog catchers—it’s because dogs escape and range freely. While some owners allow this, most don’t. Sometimes it’s the pool guy who accidentally left the gate open. (Which is why a discussion of this topic can help you head–off a tragedy.) There are products available to that can metaphorically lock the door on this possibility. PetSafe makes a product call the Paws Away. It is a form of containment system that uses a small transmitter connected to a collar that

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When a dog passes through its teething stage from about 5 months to just shy of a year, it’s a great time for you to quiz your clients about the dog’s behavior.

gives a sting if the dog gets too close. They are meant to be used indoors but putting them in a sealable plastic bag can teach a dog never to approach a gate unless invited. They are fantastic at teaching dogs not to charge the front door and escape. While your sales stock is likely stuffed with SKUs, this is a product that can dramatically help your clients prepare for the future and you can make a profit on it, too. Destruction There is nothing more disconcerting than returning home to a couch with a huge hole in it. When a dog passes through its teething stage from about 5 months to just shy of a year, it’s a great time for you to quiz your clients about the dog’s behavior. While the majority of dogs grow out of incessant teething some persist for a year or more. Often

your knowledge of the problem based on subtle signs from the owner can head off the problem before it gets to the “he’s never done that” stage. Housetraining Every year, people get rid of dogs because they are finally fed up with urine soaked carpets. From puppyhood to old age, regularly reinforcing a dog for correct elimination makes this highly unlikely. If a dog poops in a formal living room at age two and he’s truly never done it before it either means some kind of illness, a total lapse on the part of the owners, or failure to plan ahead and make sure the dog is devoted to pottying outdoors. Public Nuisance Many pet owners cannot walk their pets in public without a struggle.

The “he’s never done that before” often takes the form of their dog lunging and/or attacking another dog. Using a head–halter is the best way to prepare for this possibility. Halters give the handler a mechanical advantage. Instead of having to resist the entire dog, only the muscles that connect the neck to the head come in play. If a dog lunges at another dog, a very light pull back on the leash turns the dog’s head. That means the bite will not land and the dog will get “a mouthful of feathers.” For people who are not savvy dog handlers, halters are the correct solution to this problem. They are also a product that you can sell. Hint: Dogs on halters are less fractious when they come into your business because they cannot lunge forward and an owner can comfortably control their dogs as they stand at the front counter. n



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By Teena Patel Have you ever heard a boss or manager refer to managing employees as “babysitting”? What a silly thought — it doesn’t have to be that way!


ith proper training and careful preparation, you can confidentially add new employees to your facility without feeling like a babysitter. But, first things first; stop treating your employees like children. Whether you own a doggy daycare, full service boarding facility, or both, you already know that it takes a great deal of expertise, education, and skill to keep beloved pets safe. Treating your employees like the valued assets they are will help them become top achievers. Your clientele will notice the difference, too. Identify the Job So you’ve hired your latest employee,


and now it’s time to help them be successful in their career and in your business. First, identify the job that they’ll be doing. There are many different jobs in a pet care facility and it’s important to break things down to help understand expectations. Once there’s a level of mastery, they’ll identify the overlay between their own title and other positions. What does their role look like? Remember, you may think the responsibilities are clearly defined, but never assume that you and the new hire are on the same page. When defining the job role, take it to the extreme: what exact physical, mental, and emotional abilities are needed to do the job right? PET BOARDING & DAYCARE

Physical, Mental, & Emotional Ability Every facility is unique. For example, at the University of Doglando, the level of physicality isn’t the same as it would be in an indoor area. As an example, one new hire tracked her steps and found that she walked 15 miles in a single day! We had to ask ourselves, “Is this normal? Do all staff need to be able to do this?” We then had an experienced staff member wear a fitness tracker to compare, and she walked 6 miles. Now we understand the level of fitness required to do certain jobs efficiently. Mental ability is also important. Caring for pets involves a huge amount of knowledge. Don’t ever say, “This isn’t rocket science.” Nope, this is rocket

science – even cleaning the water bowls. For us, each staff member has a certain degree of mental acuity, and when we hire we make sure people want to learn and further their education. Why? Because we want staff to understand why things like cleaning are so important. They understand how parvo and distemper work, and requiring this level of knowledge and interest shows that every person isn’t cut out for every job. Determine the mental capacity required at your own facility because it will help you train employees more effectively. Finally, we need to assess emotional ability. An influx of emotion prohibits some absolutely amazing employees from making the best rational decisions, for the business and for the pets they’re caring for. You may have an amazing employee who desperately wants to help every animal that they come into contact with, but that person needs to be able to control their emotions in order to be effective.

What Does the Hiring Process Look Like? If you’re wondering, “How the heck am I going to access these different abilities?” there’s a straightforward solution: working interviews. After a successful initial interview, Doglando requires a 2–day working interview. This gives new hires the opportunity to truly SEE, and therefore fully understand, what working here is like. It has to be a mutual fit, because the way we do things isn’t for everyone. The way you do things at your facility likely isn’t for everyone, either. After They’re Hired: Policies for Success You’ve identified and hired the perfect new employee, but your work isn’t over yet. What policies do you have in place to ensure success? Your policies will be different from the facility next door, so determine what works best for your business.

For example, our staff aren’t allowed to bring their own dogs to work until the 3-month mark. They also have to meet all of their benchmarks, which gives us confidence that their personal dog won’t disrupt the experiences of other dogs. We also want to build traditions and routines, and that requires careful consideration from the beginning. You can even go so far as to put paw prints on the floor, tracing certain paths until they become routine. This aids you in helping staff understand exactly what they should be doing. This detailed roadmap works well when combined with useful tools like detailed checklists throughout the facility. By enforcing these things every single day, new hires are more likely to succeed. Paw prints and checklists are great, but your new hire training doesn’t end there. You need to develop a useful new hire orientation guide, too.

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How do you know when mop bucket water is dirty?


For us, when the water looks like Fig. 1 dump it, fill it 25% with water, and

FIG. 2

FIG. 1

add a half cup of bleach (Fig. 2). Everything stays clean, and everyone is on the same page.

Importance of Comprehensive New Hire Orientations Do you give your new hires a comprehensive orientation experience? We give all of our new hires a nice, hardcore orientation book. We dive

deep into our corporate culture, including overall ethics and dog ethics. Because many of our dogs are here to learn and grow with us throughout their entire lives, explaining these philosophies creates excitement amongst staff. We

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also include the story of our facility. Our own employees admire our story and philosophy, and having this connection helps them identify similarities between themselves and the company. You should also make your orientation guide and other new hire training materials available online. This lets you specifically identify what your standards are. Consider a dirty mop bucket. Your definition of dirty might be very different from your new hire’s definition! Plus, by having your training materials online, you can more effectively cross–train employees to become proficient at different positions (everything is connected, after all). When creating your own orientation guide and other training materials, share your beliefs and philosophies. This will create understanding and excitement, and the employees’ respect for their jobs will skyrocket in return. Your orientation guide is also the perfect place to explain your traditions and expectations. The Importance of Excitement and Traditions In my business, we have a lot of traditions. But, there’s one tradition we particularly love: the huddle. At

the end of every single day, we do a group huddle. Everyone knows that they shouldn’t even start grabbing their belongings from their locker until we’ve done our huddle. We talk about things like giving clients a 30 second snapshot of their dogs’ day, how to properly mix cleaning solutions, and anything else that’s relevant. It might sound like “over communication” is another tradition… and that’s purposeful. The importance of communication can’t be overstated — everyone needs to be on the same page. By taking control of the narrative, you’re also facilitating your employees’ behavior. Think of it as a game: as a facilitator, your goal is to keep everyone excited and engaged, but you can immediately see when staff aren’t engaged. This helps you get things back on track before they spiral out of control and that new employee makes a mistake. Finally, Feedback Are you giving employees regular feedback on their performance? This is so important – keep giving feedback until the learner (your employee) has changed their behavior. The principals are similar between dogs and humans. If you want a revision to take place, then you need to keep providing feedback. At our facility we speak with new hires every single day, along with standard 30, 60, 90, and 1-year reviews. On top of that, we have a neutral person meet with staff every quarter. For us, this is my husband. He takes them out to lunch to learn more about who they are as people so that we can set them up for success. As a bonus, we’re also able to identify their future goals. This is important because we ideally want staff to grow with us, and we can’t help them grow if we don’t know their goals. Existing staff aren’t left out in the cold, either. You can do daily lunch meetings and spend 15 minutes doing



This image is part of our “Sunday Chores” cleaning instructions. Employees know to sweep each of these rooms and to mop them with watered down bleach.

role playing (we like to get silly and have fun with this one!), doing a small giveaway, or revisiting a particular policy. Further, we hold monthly team meetings to help build the team environment. Emphasize how important each individual is to the team as a whole, too. Training New Hires to Succeed is a Marathon, Not a Sprint If all of this sounds like a lot to implement at once, don’t worry. Every business has to grow into its own system and put processes in place. Try tackling one piece at a time, like writing your company’s story, and then move on to the next piece, like a daily huddle. As long as you’re committed to learning and growing alongside your staff, you can effectively train new hires to succeed at your facility. n




By Melanie Haber




aking money on pet boarding in a veterinary hospital is very obtainable, you just have to decide the way to target where and how the dollars are going to show up. There are many ways veterinary clinics and hospitals offer pet boarding. A few ways can include providing a safe environment for pets requiring around the clock medical care and observations. Others offer more services in one location so their clients don’t go elsewhere. And some gain income from the services that can be generated while a pet is boarding. If your treatment room or ICU area of the practice has the space to accommodate extra cages and runs for medical boarders, this can generate a lot of income. Since this is a service that can only be provided by a qualified veterinary medical team, you are likely to get twice—if not more—boarding dollars per day than a regular boarding facility. However, these medical boarders can be a lot more work so make sure you charge appropriately for “extras” outside of the medical observation such as administering medications, checking glucose or other blood levels, bandage changes, wound cleaning, I.V. fluids services, and medical bathing. Some pets that may not need medical attention but do poorly in a boarding environment are good candidates to board at a veterinary facility as well. Staff can monitor their feeding habits, watch for inappropriate or concerning urination activity, make an educated decision on whether a bowel movement looks normal or not, or recognize if a pet is just failing to thrive. Next, if you have a practice that has the square–footage and employee resources to offer many pet services under one roof, this gives you huge benefits by creating a firm return

visit client/veterinarian relationship. Boarding in these cases can be really lucrative if you are offering many other one–stop shop related purchases like food, retail, grooming, daycare, training, agility course, dock diving, and extended medical/surgical care like dentistry, vaccines, and wellness. If a pet comes in for boarding, let the client know they don’t have to bring in food because you sell it there or you can let the client know their pet can be groomed the morning of departure so he is fresh and clean following his stay. Some owners feel guilty for leaving their pet so make sure you are retailing items like toys, beds, and treats that they can buy for their pet to use while boarding to alleviate their blame. If a pet shows signs of a behavior problem, offer to let the dog trainer work with the pet during their stay. If a pet is in for daycare, let the owner know that if they want to go out for a date night, they can leave the pet overnight then be picked up at his usual time the following day. The possibilities are endless. The key is making sure you communicate your one-stop shop options to every veterinary client. Whenever a new client comes in, offer to give them a tour following their visit. Point out that you can offer daycare if their pet needs attention or socialization during the day while they are at work, boarding for extended trips, grooming services by appointment, during daycare, or while boarding. Let them know if you have facilities where the pets can get exercise indoors during the cold winter months. Make sure you have all your offerings on your website, in a brochure, and/or listed on your business cards. You can also sweeten the loyalty by offering frequent visit cards or buy 3 services and get the 4th for free. For the ancillary services, PET BOARDING & DAYCARE


Board rders Since this is a service that can only be provided by a qualified veterinary medical team, you are likely to get twice—if not more —boarding dollars per day than a regular boarding facility.


It is important that the staff understand that, while this is about making money since we do have a business to run and salaries to pay, it is primarily about being an advocate for the pet! you could create a membership package, family package or multiple pet discounts. The sky is the limit. But make sure you charge appropriately to make a profit for each department. Finally, if you want your boarding business to provide services directly to your veterinary hospital, make sure you look for the services a pet needs. Anytime a pet comes into your boarding facility, someone qualified should take a look at each pet. This is for multiple reasons. Two of which are

to make sure the pet doesn’t have any serious illness or injury upon arrival that could turn into a liability and for you to see if there are any services that the pets can have performed to save the owner a trip back to the hospital later. While “kennel exams” that are complimentary ARE NOT a substitute for a veterinary exam, they can tell us if there is a need for the veterinarian to become involved with this pet. A simple look to see if there is ear or eye discharge, dirty teeth, lumps or bumps,

abnormal urine or stools, grooming needs and other things you can see that are in obvious need of work can then result in a phone call to the client with recommendations. These recommendations can range from a simple ear cleaning to a full scale dental prophylaxis. This is the best time to get the work done, while the pet is already at the hospital under qualified staff and can recover and be back to their normal selves by the time the owners pick them up. It is important that someone with good phone skills makes the call to the owner with the recommendations. This is a unique skill because I’ve found over the years that some vet techs feel like “used car salesmen” when they call to get a client to comply with services which create more fees. It is important that the staff understand that, while this is about making money since we do have a business to run and salaries to pay, it is primarily about being an advocate for the pet! We would never want a pet with dirty or swollen ears not to be taken care of. If we are too shy to talk about cleaning the dirty teeth, imagine how filthy and diseased the mouth will be in a year? Plus, have the staff consider how much more it may cost and the conversation that will take place then. I would rather talk to an owner about a pet needing a routine cleaning now than about how many teeth have to be extracted and how much pain the pet



has been experiencing later. Grooming is very important, too. Groomers have an exceptional position to find even more areas that are in need of care. They can find lumps, bumps, dry skin, oily skin, and other issues which can lead to a veterinary exam. In fact, clients are more likely to take the advice of their groomer since they aren’t “out to get their money”, which gives them an edge during recommendations. Understanding this, make sure your groomers are educated or certified. Our grooming staff are required to become Certified Pet Aestheticians to give the pets the most skilled and educated staff available to work on them at all times. If a pet has a healthy coat but gets smelly while boarding, make sure pet owners are asked if they wish to have the pet bathed before release. Make sure your staff isn’t too shy to let a client know about a $20 boarding bath. I know I feel better after a bath, doesn’t a pet deserve that too? Bottom line, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, managers, office, kennel and other staff all have a responsibility to be an advocate for the pet. Since pets can’t tell

Groomers have an exceptional position to find even more areas that are in need of care. They can find lumps, bumps, dry skin, oily skin, and other issues which can lead to a veterinary exam. us what is wrong, it is our responsibility to check every pet in our care to see

for this service. Once you make the move, create a game plan to ensure all

if it is in need of anything. When you are an advocate for the pet and charge appropriately for your services, the profits will follow. If you are trying to decide whether to offer pet boarding at your veterinary facility, these are a few things to think about. The important thing to remember is decide why you want to do boarding, what type of boarding you wish to offer, and charge appropriately. Also, make sure your business is zoned

costs are covered and there is a profit. Educate your staff to be advocates for the pets, and to not feel like salesmen. Ensure they are trained to communicate all recommendations to the client then meet and exceed the expectations you are giving the client. n






pet boarding facility’s greatest asset is its employees, which is why, even without legally required encouragement, management should be fully invested in creating a successful Safety & Health

rather than reactive. Don’t wait until the worst has happened before making safety a priority for your business.

Program. Because safety is not only

asking employees to conform. Rather,

the responsibility of management, but

management should offer the necessary

of each employee as well, employers

levels of training, education, resources,

should make staff involvement in

and authority so that staff can take

compliance a priority. Employers

ownership of the safety process and fully

should ask themselves how do they

buy into the program. One of the most

adequately convey the key elements

effective ways to involve employees is

of a good program—knowledge,

through a Safety Committee comprised

control, support, and training—so

of both staff and management who,

that employees are fully equipped to

together, not only review safety proce-

ascertain what is putting people at risk

dures, but real–world accidents as well.

and how can they make appropriate

A smart and effective program is pro–ac-

changes to the workplace?

tive rather than reactive. Don’t wait until

A successful Safety & Health Program is not achieved by simply


A smart and effective program is pro–active

the worst has happened before making safety a priority for your business.


Key Elements for a Successful Safety & Health Program

A successful Safety & Health Program integrates a number of key elements. The following highlights several of them.


Safety Program A Written Safety Program details the proper conduct and procedures to ensure a safe working environment. It should include items such as expectations and consequences (corrective action) set forth



by management.

Employee Safety


Along with providing your written Safety & Health Program, a safety orientation should be conducted prior to any employee receiving their first job assignment. This will allow for the new employees to be aware of the hazards in their work environment and the rules for minimizing those hazards. A walk around with the employee in their assigned area is an essential part of this process. Once new employees have completed safety training, they should sign an acknowledgement

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form indicating they have been informed of all safety procedures at the facility.

Job Safety Analysis A Job Safety Analysis (JSA) carefully studies and records each step of a job, identifying existing or potential job hazards (both safety and health), and determining the proper way to perform the job to reduce or eliminate these hazards. When conducting a JSA, one should consider accident frequency, accident severity, and repetitive exposure.

Periodic Safety


Perhaps the most important element of a successful Safety & Health Program is training. Although there are numerous laws governing employee safety training, to lessen injuries and, ultimately, protect bottom line profit, even without legal mandates management, should be energized to conduct periodic safety training. 24


While all training topics are important, a few that may be required by law and are vital preventive measures include: •

Hazard Communication

Personal Protective Equipment

Emergency Action Plan

Bloodborne Pathogens

Additional important training areas include: •

Proper Recordkeeping

• Lock-out/Tag-out •

Slip, Trip, and Fall Protection

Proper Lifting

CPR/Medic First Aid/AED

Proper Operation of Machines

Ladder Safety

Ergonomic Analysis

When it comes to safety training, it’s important to keep in mind that the aforementioned are only a few key areas to consider and should certainly not be perceived as all encompassing.

A Return to Work Program not only lessens the amount of time an employee is away from their job, it also shows employees that they are cared about completely. Proper Accident


Return to Work


Accident investigation is a tool

A Return to Work Program not

for prevention of further incidents.

only lessens the amount of time an

Employees should be required to report

employee is away from their job, it also

an accident immediately and the resulting

shows employees that they are cared

investigation, ideally conducted by the

about completely. This program should

immediate supervisor as soon as possible

include detailed job descriptions of all

after learning of the accident, and docu-

functions of the business. When an em-

mented in the proper forms. All accidents

ployee goes to the doctor, this program

should then be reviewed by the Safety

will allow their physician to know what

Committee to ascertain what action to

tasks are expected of the employee. The

take to prevent further occurrences.

physician can then determine what, if



any, functions of the employee’s job can

ransacking your place? You’ve got

It is recommended that you create a

be done. Management should provide

insurance, so it’s all covered. Are you

partnership with the local agencies that

various light duty options for the

sure? Where are you going to house

may be responding to you in case of

physician to consider in determining

your displaced clients? How are you

emergency, this may reduce some stress

the employee’s work status. If your

going to pay your employees with no

when they assist you because you will

immediate reaction to the term “light

revenue coming in? ABC Pet down

see a familiar face. Donuts and coffee

duty” is that you have no light duty,

the street has no damage and they are

go a long way to bridge a stranger gap.

it’s important to keep an open mind.

hiring! In developing your Emergency

Make sure you include your employees

Have you ever considered having an

Preparedness Program, it’s important to

in the planning process, so they feel a

employee open the front door and

look at a few things you may not have

sense of ownership of the program. Be

greet customers as they arrive? Could

considered, such as:

sure to drill each program element so

they catch up on that paper filing you

Bomb Threats

that response is a natural reaction if the

never get caught up on? Any task that

Cyber Attack

time comes for action.

is doctor-approved for light duty keeps

Emergency Contact List

the employee from staying home eating

Evacuation Routes

bon-bons and watching commercials


elements of a Safety & Health Program

of lawyers on TV. The department

Toxic Chemical Releases

represent just a few aspects of what

in charge of claims should monitor

Utility Outage

is entailed in such an endeavor. It’s

the employee’s work status with the

Violence in the Workplace

very important to remember that new

doctor’s office and keep the supervisor

Weather Emergencies

employees know nothing about your operation when they first walk through

informed of that status. Each one of the aforementioned

Emergency Preparedness Program

All of the above–mentioned

that door. It cannot be stressed enough

requires planning, training, and drilling

how important a successful program

of your Emergency Preparedness

can be to lessen risk and directly

Program to ensure complete success

impact your bottom line profits. Make

if/when you need to implement. If

your Safety & Health Program—

you are not proactive and wait until

orientation and training—an absolute

Tornado? Hurricane? Flooding? Fire?

something happens, it will be too late

priority because when you put safety

A disgruntled employee or customer

and possibly put your business in peril.

first, you’ll avoid the worst. n

Think you’re ready for anything?

Ben Day brings a wealth of experience to his safety advisory role with the International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA). A native Texan who worked in the safety profession for over thirty years, he transitioned into the Professional Employer Organization (PEO) business, where he worked as a Safety Consultant, Loss Control Manager, and Vice President of Risk Management. He holds certifications in the fields of Safety/ Risk Management and Loss Control and instructs in CPR/Medic First Aid and Safety. Ben is also the owner of Ben Day Business Consultants. For more information on Ben and his role at IBPSA, visit






Photos by Camp Run-A-Mutt



Camp Run-A-Mutt

By Kathy Hosler


or years Dennis Quaglia dreamed of creating a Disney– like paradise for his beloved Springer Spaniel, Andy. He pictured a place where Andy could enjoy everything that he loved...water to splash in, wide open spaces with plenty of room to run, places to climb and explore, and lots of balls to fetch. When Dennis and his friends Mikel Ross, and Severn Crow met at the local dog park after work, the conversation was always about dogs. "Meeting at the park with our dogs was the best part of the day," says Mikel Ross, the Director of Operations at Camp Run–A–Mutt "One day as we were talking, we all agreed that


set, play!

"One day as we were talking, we all agreed that it bothered us when we had to board our dogs and they spent all of their time just sitting in a kennel." — Mikel Ross, the Director of Operations at Camp Run-A-Mutt it bothered us when we had to board our dogs and they spent all of their time just sitting in a kennel." That conversation planted the seed that would grow into Camp Run–A– Mutt and soon, the three friends became business partners. From the beginning, they decided that the camp would offer cage–free boarding and daycare, as well as grooming, training,


and other services. On February 29, 2008 the first Camp Run–A–Mutt opened in San Diego, California and it was exactly what Dennis, the Founder and President, had envisioned building for Andy. Andy was even the inspiration for the Camp Run–A–Mutt logo. The facility has lots of indoor and outdoor space. The park-like setting


The facility has lots of indoor and outdoor space. The park-like setting has a




with a waterfall and sun decks.


has a huge splash pond with a waterfall and sun decks. There are all kinds of structures and play equipment for the dogs to climb on and tunnels for them to explore. There is plenty of shade and misters to keep things cool. There are lots of toys and balls and a super popular bubble machine. And, when they want a little break, there are beds and dog houses to take a nap. Every dog is temperament tested before it can become a camper. The daycare and overnight campers get to romp and play all day under the supervision of their specially trained staff. The daycare became increasingly popular as working parents told them how taking their dogs to camp was solving problems at home. The dogs were getting plenty of needed exercise and socialization. As a result, neighbor and landlord complaints


about things like excessive barking diminished, and stress behaviors such as inappropriate chewing lessened. The camp is equipped with Muttcams which allow pet parents to watch their dogs play. "It's amazing to see how many people watch their pets," says Mikel. "Because we are in the San Diego area, we have a lot of clients who are in the military. Lots of the service personnel deployed overseas really miss their pets. Now, many of them are able to watch their pets on our Muttcams." One of the most important features of Camp Run–A–Mutt is their cage-free overnight boarding. "I love the fact that the dogs get to be themselves," says Mikel. "They are not just put away in a corner and forgotten. Cage–free is much more interactive. Most dogs love attention and they surely get it at the camp."

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"Our business is so much about trust and compassion and love for the dogs... we don't ever want to lose that."

mikel ross Director of Operations Camp Run-A-Mutt

Boarding can be stressful for dogs. The overnight staff stays in the room with the dogs all night long. There are televisions, lounge chairs, and lots of comfy dog beds all around the room. The dogs get to relax in the homelike atmosphere. It's like a big slum-grrr-party. The first time a dog comes in for an overnight stay, it must be checked in by

noon. That way, they get used to the staff and the other dogs, and they get to play enough to be tired at the end of the day. "Our business is so much about trust and compassion and love for the dogs...we don't ever want to lose that," says Mikel. "We became so busy that we had a waiting list of dogs who wanted to get in. We needed to open a second location. That's

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when we decided to franchise." In 2010, the first Camp Run–A–Mutt franchise opened, only three miles away. Today they have seven locations in the San Diego area, one in Los Angeles, and the newest franchise just opened in Houston, Texas. Franchisees are required to take two weeks of onsite training, and they get continued support. "We want controlled growth and to make sure that each camp is successful—that's our number one priority," Mikel says. "We want to make dogs happy and make an important impact in the owner's and dog's lives." Severn Crow, the Vice President of Camp Run–A–Mutt, used to work for USA Today as their web developer. Severn says, "When you do what you love, it's amazing what you can accomplish." Severn designed their awesome website,, and also built all of the Camp Run–A–Mutt software from scratch. There are iPads throughout the facility, in the yards, and at the feeding stations. They allows the staff to keep notes on everything that the dogs do and give them to the pet parents at the end



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of the day. The software also enables the camps to keep track of other important information for each dog. For instance, it alerts them 45 days before a dog's vaccinations are due. All registrations can be made online. That's a huge timesaver for the business and a real convenience for the pet parents. The camps like to use as much technology as possible without losing the human touch. They give pet report cards to every overnight camper and to first–time daycare attendees. Dogs that come in for grooming also get a report card. They find that the owners love receiving the report cards, and, it's a good way to communicate with pet parents. The camps also provide training options for their canine campers. They offer one–on–one and group obedience classes and also manners training using positive reinforcement techniques. And, of course, they have to have snacks, toys, and specialty items for the dogs. Each Camp Run–A–Mutt has a boutique that PET BOARDING & DAYCARE

is fully stocked with safe, unique, and fun products for all of their campers. They do a lot of fundraising events and each camp works directly with a rescue group. The camps provide free daycare to foster dogs, to help them get socialized and to find forever homes. When they do get adopted, they can continue to come to camp. Even though their home has changed, they still have the continuity of being at camp. It's worked amazingly well and made the transition a real easy one for a lot of people and their new pets. The adventure land paradise that Dennis Quaglia dreamed of and designed for his little buddy, Andy, has become a do-it-all playground for thousands of lucky pups. They may not wear Mickey Mouse ears, but you can be sure that all the dogs who play and stay at Camp Run–A–Mutt are having a world of fun! 'Cuz every dog should have his day!' n






FROM THE REST By Craig McAllester I got an email from a veterinarian who is adding a kennel boarding facility onto his existing animal hospital. As always, I have been getting lots of questions from him.



ome of his questions have been a bit atypical, likely because—rather than being a boarding kennel owner—he is a veterinarian. I have enjoyed his interest and inquisitive nature, especially from his veterinary perspective. Now, this is not to say I have all the answers; far from it. But I have been working in the small animal care industry long enough, that, if I don't know the answer, I don't know who does. During our design process, the doctor has asked me all the typical questions that come up often regarding air quality, floor finishes, what to do for drains—or not, what to use for kennel enclosures, what is a safe hallway PET BOARDING & DAYCARE

width for the kennel, and more. Today, however, he asked some questions that I don't get all that often. These were more about the kennel business, rather than about the building itself. He was wondering about the rate of return with regard to the size of the enclosure. In his first draft floor plan we had three banks of stacked kennels that could house five small dogs each. My thinking was that these 15 kennels would be used for overflow of smaller dogs on those long holiday weekends when the kennel was at full capacity. At lesser capacity, the larger kennels would be used for all sizes dogs. His concern was that he felt that he needed more space for larger dogs. 

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On the second draft, he had me eliminate the three banks of 15 kennels, and rearrange the configuration of the larger kennels to accommodate larger animals. In doing so, we were able to increase the total number of large dogs by only three. He gave up 15 to gain three! When he considered that, when at full capacity, these 15 smaller stacked kennels would free–up the larger kennels for bigger dogs, the first design

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started to make more sense (or dollars, as it were to him). Another area of concern in today's email was the cost per–night boarding. How was he going to compete with all the other kennels in the area who have a lower overnight stay rate? Likely, most of his competition uses some unskilled labor to keep their rates low. His staff are all veterinary technicians and nurses who would be paid far more per hour, and he

must recoup those salary costs. When thinking about this, I remember another client who gave me a list of nine different sizes of kennels that she wanted to use in her new facility. Her thinking was that she would have nine different price points and that way, she would have the right price for everyone. The trouble is, every customer now had to make a decision as to which price point they wanted to purchase. That decision takes time at the reception desk; time that most people don't have. I tend to keep the sizes to a minimum. By doing so, and separating the costs substantially, makes the choice easy. If the penthouse is too high, then a lesser cost room for the night is the answer. But still, how was he to compete with his low–cost competition? As I continued reading his email, he also wanted to know what other amenities or services that I felt he should offer in order to better compete. Adding things

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like grooming or training will always help. Those services could be subleased, and their owners would be advertising, bringing business to his business—free advertising! Additionally, the trainer could be using the daycare rooms during off hours when they are not in use.  The boarding trend lately shows that most kennels are using luxury boarding to help grow their businesses.  Setting aside 10 to 20 percent of the total boarding capacity, and making a separate luxury kennel ward, allows kennels to charge more money per night for a little larger room and perhaps a cookie on their pillow. If there is one thing that my past clients have told me most often, it would be that they wish they had more luxury boarding kennels. After telling him about luxury boarding, he was surprised when I told him that I thought he should refrain from including luxury boarding in his business model. If he were to include luxury

boarding, he would be competing with his competition once again. My thinking here is that when his boarding clients compare his facility to his competition, apples to apples, the one thing that sets him apart is his veterinary practice—his main business. Each boarder would receive daily care and time outside in the turnout yards under the supervision of an animal care professional; something the competition could not provide. Another area he could consider is retail. When working with clients, I tell most that they should offer a small amount of retail in their lobby.  I also tell them that they should only offer the very best product they can find.  Some years ago, when we lived in Phoenix, we were shopping in Scottsdale. I bought a $75.00, ultra–supple, rolled leather collar for our dog Rebar (The World’s Greatest Dog). He probably didn't need a new collar, but once I had it in my hand, the quality stood well on its own,

I simply had to have it. I tell clients all the time, don't compete with the ‘Marts’, the K–Marts or the Wal–Marts, of the world. Your retail goods should stand on their own merits. You could use a local artisan to make collars, bowls, clothing or whatever. These unique services and products, things that cannot be bought elsewhere, will quickly set you apart from the pack, making your kennel ‘the place to go’ for pet boarding and services. n Craig L. McAllester, President, Craig L. McAllester, Inc, kennel designer, has been designing veterinary hospitals, boarding kennels, animal shelters, police, military, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Border Patrol working dog kennels, here in the United States of America, and in countries around the world, since 2003. Craig may be contacted at 877-2342301. www.

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etting employees know directly that safety is the highest priority is good, but specifically explaining that dog and human safety is secondary to the workday being productive can make a huge impact. Without directly expressing this over and over, it is more likely that the staff member will make a decision based on being productive and set themselves and the dog up for an injury. During the employee training session, I always admit to employees that a bored dog isn’t ideal but it beats an injured dog every day of the year. The


same principle applies to employees. At times it can seem counter intuitive to be overly cautious, but I’ve found that erring on the side of caution reduces big unexpected costs while improving customer and employee satisfaction in the long run. Following is a list of unseen injuries and how to spot them. Staff members should be taught and encouraged to share any and all strange behaviors with each other in writing so information is not lost during a shift change. Something quick and easy, such as a whiteboard on the dog’s kennel, is a perfect place to record PET BOARDING & DAYCARE

By Kama Brown

quirks or stressful events the dog has encountered during the visit. Trigger Stacking All employees should understand the importance and impact trigger stacking has on the dog. Trigger stacking happens when dogs are not able to completely destress from one stressful event or situation before another one occurs. When a few minimally stressful events occur around the same time, they become equal to one very stressful situation. What you’ll see is a dog that responds to a minor event as if it is catastrophic.

Let’s say, under normal circumstances, a repeat client’s dog has shown only minimal signs of unease at having his paws picked up (lip licking, looking away) and then all of a sudden that same dog scratches or bites the employee when they pick up his feet. If the employee can’t figure out what they did to trigger this, the most likely explanation is trigger stacking. Trigger stacking could have looked like this: The car ride gave the dog a stomachache, the dog then accidently got his tail stuck in the door coming in, then on the way to his kennel a dog lunges at him, which makes him jump and get his foot tangled in the loop of the leash. The dog is so on edge at this point that when the employee bends down and picks up the dog’s foot, the dog goes past the point of his normal stress response and reactively scratches or bites. Knowing that the dog had already been through extra stress experiences that day would have warned the employee to be on guard, keep their head up, and give the dog extra space. Sore Muscles Oftentimes a dog will not realize how sore they are until after having stayed still for a length of time. When finally asked to move for outside time or kennel cleaning, the dog begins to growl. If the dog was fine a few hours earlier and is usually mild mannered about being asked to move, I would suspect sore muscles or muscle bruising. Bribe the dog up on to his feet with some hot dogs, warm chicken, or cat food. Once up, use the food to get the dog walking a few steps and look for stiffness, swelling, obvious limping, or a change in gait. See if the dog will walk in a tight circle, raise and lower their head, or walk up or down a set of stairs. If the dog shows any signs of pain such as whining, whimpering, hesitating, or turning away, take the dog out of play sessions for the next 48 hours and monitor the situation. The most important first-aid PET BOARDING & DAYCARE


Ear infections can quickly go from being unable to be seen by the human eye to severe in 48 hours. Dogs who suddenly begin to snap at other dogs during playtime or begin to avoid being touched on the head should be checked for ear infections. treatment for any injury is rest. If the dog is unable to be bribed, without any obvious signs of injury, wait a few hours and try again, with the smelliest and best tasting food available. Training employees to watch the dogs’ movements when they are stretching, running, and playing can increase the chance of catching minor issues before they turn into sore muscle injuries during daycare. Noticing stiffness, swelling, and/or minor changes in gait is information that can be passed on via whiteboard or during shift change. This added awareness on how a dog is feeling could prevent injuries.

Ear Infections Ear infections can quickly go from being unable to be seen by the human eye to severe in 48 hours. Dogs who suddenly begin to snap at other dogs during playtime or begin to avoid being touched on the head should be checked for ear infections. An easy way to check is to offer them some peanut butter on a plate and gently flip back the ear and look inside. If there is a harsh odor or brown looking goo, they are infected and need veterinary care. Oftentimes dogs learn that having their ears treated for infections is painful and the dog can still be sensitive for a few

weeks following the treatment. It’s always good to check the dog’s ears during check-in and ask about recent infections. Cognition Issues Dementia or Sundowner’s syndrome can create unease in dogs, which can look like unpredictable aggression. If the dog seems confused or startles easily, train employees to go slow and find a way to make the dog aware of their presence. Before putting the leash on, dangle the leash in front and let them sniff the leash. Before feeding, take an extra moment to open and close the kennel door a few times to make sure the dog is awake and fully aware someone is there. Before physically moving the dog for grooming or before attaching a leash, reach out slowly and begin petting the dog to make sure they are in the right mindset to accept it. Preventing dog bites can be as easy as learning not to startle a dog with cognition issues. Skin Conditions Hot spots often begin on the neck or in the groin and can be difficult to see when they are small. When petting the scruff or under the chin, if you notice the dog seems to shy away or shake their head and the ears look non-infected, check the dog over for a skin condition. Very often, dogs that are in mild unease about being touched will begin to lick the hands that are touching them as a way to express their worry. Dogs can also get sunburn, heat rashes, and chafed skin in sensitive areas.

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middle which is difficult to see, generally don’t bleed, but are extremely sensitive. Oftentimes they will chew or lick their feet and nails when this happens. Stress Related Gastro-Intestinal Issues such as Gas, Bloat, and Colitis Dogs who snap their heads when their stomach or back end is touched may be feeling pain in their abdomens. It may take a few days to see physical signs such as bloating or blood in the stool. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) Symptoms include muscle weakness, glassy eyes, collapse, disorientation, and tremors. Sometimes this can look like dehydration. The dog may become suddenly fearful or snappy. If this is suspected, try feeding the dog a few smaller meals throughout the day instead of one large meal.

Oral Issues I watched a dog once go from being a sweet natured Beagle playing in the yard to a flailing, snapping, and aggressive Beagle who refused to come out of a corner. We watched as he pawed at his face over and over while simultaneously defending himself from approaching dogs and people. While this could also have been a bad bug bite to the face, we eventually wrangled him and realized he had a perfectly sized tiny stick lodged in the roof of his mouth, between his upper teeth. It was just the right size that it couldn’t be seen until it was dislodged. Dogs having oral issues will usually paw their faces, rub their faces on the ground, throw their heads back, and generally won’t stop moving their necks around. If nothing obvious can be found it could be a severe dental or throat issue that would need to be seen. Keeping all employees informed of

the slight changes in dog behavior over the dog’s entire stay can paint an overall picture before aggression or injury is severe. Each time an employee notices something slight, it becomes a teaching opportunity for new staff members as well, and so continual learning is taking place. Repeat reminders to staff that safety is the vital first priority can create a sense of prevention and awareness that lowers injuries in both dogs and employees. n

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DEAF CATS By Ingrid King

B 46

lindness is a partial or

Deafness in cats can occur for

Blind and deaf cats adapt

total loss of vision. It can

many reasons. It can be caused by

remarkably well to their disabilities as

be congenital, or occur

inflammation or infection, degenerative

long as guardians make the necessary

suddenly as a result of illness or

nerve changes, traumatic injury or

accommodations. Since cats are

trauma. It can also come on gradually

certain drugs. Some cats are born deaf.

creatures of habit, maintaining a

from progressive diseases such as high

It appears that white cats with blue eyes

consistent indoor environment is one

blood pressure, cataracts, or glaucoma.

are particularly prone to congenital

of the most important aspects of caring

Since cats are extremely good at

deafness. There is also a breed con-

for these special needs cats. These

compensating and adapting, complete

nection; some of the breeds that are at

cats will generally fare better with a

or even partial loss of vision can be

higher risk are white Persians, Ragdolls,

cat sitter who will care for the cat in

challenging to detect for even the most

Cornish and Devon Rex, Oriental

her familiar home, but there may be

observant cat guardian.

Shorthairs, Manx and Turkish Angora.Â

occasions where a blind or deaf cat that


needs to be boarded. Boarding facility staff should get as much information from the cat’s guardian as possible about the cat’s regular routine, including specific details on how the guardian helps the cat overcome the challenges associated with her special needs in the cat’s home. Ideally, facility staff should try to duplicate as much of the cat’s routine as possible in a kennel environment.

Boarding facility staff should get as much information from the cat’s guardian as possible about the cat’s regular routine, including specific details on how the guardian helps the cat overcome the challenges associated with her special needs in the cat’s home.

Caring for Blind Cats in a Boarding Facility

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Boarding can be stressful for cats in general. Keeping special needs cats in a quiet section of the facility, where noise is kept to a minimum, will help

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minimize stress. When first placing a blind cat in an enclosure, speak to her quietly and gently guide her to bedding,

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food dishes and to the litter box. Don’t rush the cat’s exploration of this new and unfamiliar space; let her set the pace. Introduce the cat to the litter box by gently placing her in it, and then letting her find her way around the enclosure on her own. She will find the box location when she needs to go. Keep the litter box scrupulously clean to minimize offensive odors in the cat’s enclosure. Always keep bedding, food and water dishes in the same spot. Don’t put food and water dishes next to the litter box. Blind cats will require extra attention and time from attendants. They shouldn’t be touched without gently speaking to them first. Engage blind cats by using catnip toys or toys with bells or rattles (make sure the toy

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or rattle is safely inside the toy and can’t be chewed off and ingested). Most blind cats are highly tactile and will enjoy being brushed, stroked or petted, but kennel attendants need to know how to



whether a cat wants more attention or would prefer to be left alone.

It is important

to not


deaf cats. A startled cat may respond with aggression.

Caring for Deaf Cats in a Boarding Facility Even though deaf cats are visual, they, too, should be housed in a quiet section of the facility. Boarding a deaf cat will be less challenging for facility staff than caring for a blind cat, but deaf cats still require special treatment. It is important to not startle deaf cats. A startled cat may respond with aggression. Deaf cats respond to vibration; unless a deaf cat is watching an attendant approach, gently tap your foot or softly knock on the window of the enclosure or bar of the cage to alert the cat to your presence. Flashing the overhead lights on and off can also be a great way to alert a deaf cat. Using a small flashlight or laser pointer can also get the cat's attention.

How clean is your air? Infectious airborne pathogens can remain in the air for days. And, in a high-traffic environment like yours, their presence is a constant reality. Obviously, no animal care facility can afford to close off a room, or worse – close their doors. It’s not only a risk to your revenue. Your reputation is at stake.

Stroking, brushing and combing a deaf can be a comforting experience. Play is another wonderful way to communicate with a deaf cat. Use interactive fishing pole type toys to keep deaf cats active and engaged. Even though boarding a blind or deaf cat presents challenges, boarding facilities can make the special cats comfortable by understanding and responding to their unique needs. n

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OUTBREAK By Jess Zellmer

We had the fortunate experience of being in business for four years without experiencing a canine cough outbreak. On that Friday afternoon, with those three honking coughs, the streak had come to an end.


f you had told me that day about

surprise, there was very little detailed

facility within the six month period

the month we had ahead of us, I

information on the topic.

after the outbreak.

would have wanted to close the

During our ordeal, we discovered

doors, hop in the car and drive away.

stressful six weeks, the outbreak was

that customer communication was

Ignorance was bliss on that day.

over. The only bright side of the entire

key. Proactive phone calls and emails

situation was that the “How to Handle

went much more smoothly than the

calls from customers and vets would

a Canine Cough Outbreak” portion

reactive ones. During the first few

begin to pour in over the next few days.

of our procedures manual was now

days we tried to keep the issue “quiet.”

Just to add to the fun, Thanksgiving

complete. The communication plan

It quickly became clear that this was

Weekend was right around the corner.

featured here is not perfect, but an

not a feasible solution, especially

My husband and I took to the internet

analysis of our tracking data revealed

considering that we are in a fairly small

to look for resources on how to handle

a fantastic statistic. Almost all of the

town. We made the decision to be as

a canine cough outbreak. Much to our

guests that got the bug returned to our

transparent as possible.

Quickly, reality set in. The phone


After a painful, tiring, and


A few simple communication tools are credited with keeping our business healthy during this outbreak:



Owner Name


Cassey H


June 23, 2016



Alexis K


June 23, 2016


Matt B


June 21, 2016


Dominic H


June 19, 2016


The spreadsheet should include pet name, owner name, whether or not they had the cough, and dates of contact.



Suspect number one for bringing the cough in to our facility was Baden, a big, fuzzy mutt dog that was, and still is, one of my favorite guests. I began by contacting all guests that stayed with us during the same time frame sweet Baden was with us. These calls provided us with an idea of how widespread the issue had become. In the end, the statistics would show that 18 of 20 dogs that were here on the day of the “first honk” were eventually diagnosed with canine cough. Scary, I know!

Canine cough spreads quickly and it is easy to lose track of who you have spoken with and who you haven’t. The spreadsheet should include pet name, owner name, whether or not they had the cough, and dates of

Cough Present?

Dates of Contact

contact. The dates will become very important as a dog can shed canine cough even after the symptoms have resolved. You want to ensure all guests are healthy before they walk through your doors again.

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Via email, we provided our customers information on canine cough. We let them know that we were experiencing it and gave them the option to find an alternative if they desired. Very few customers cancelled reservations. Some called with questions or to request more information. We tried to ensure that a manager or owner was taking most of the phone calls that came in to the facility during the outbreak.





Our Experience Sets Us Apart!

• Designed over 65 facilities, including veterinary hospitals • Built 12 pet care facilities • 25-year owner/operator of a Pet Resort!


• Architectural – Engineering

Plumbing Electrical Mechanical

• Site Selection • Business Plan • Feasibility Study • Demographics • Operations

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WHO WERE KNOWN TO HAVE THE COUGH A quick email inquiring about how the dog is recovering goes a long way. It shows the customer that we are taking the situation seriously and that the health and well-being of their pet is the highest priority. Proactive communication is key in customer retention through a canine cough outbreak. We found that almost all of the customers were understanding and many times sympathetic to what we were going through. Personal calls are a nice touch but email can be quite effective. In the end we had over 35 dogs that were diagnosed with canine cough after visiting our facility. In the six months after the ordeal, all but 1 had returned to our facility for another stay. We attribute this success to our proactive and organized customer communication. n Jess Zellmer and her husband Dave own and operate Paws in Motion, a Dog Daycare and Boarding Facility in King George, Virginia. Their center specializes in offering small playgroups with a highly attentive staff to ensure a safe and fun environment for each canine guest. The couple previously owned A Dog’s Dream Pet Sitting Service in Fredericksburg, VA and have been caring for pets in their community for over ten years.

Sample Health Report Card ____________________________________’s Report Card Last Name ______________________________________ Examined By_______________________ Date: ________

VACCINATION PROGRAM ___ ALL OK ___ DUE q Distemper/Parvo

q Lyme

q Bordetella

COAT & SKIN q No problems found q Dull/dry q Matted q Abnormal Lump

q Rabies

q Rattlesnake

q Flu

q Distemper q Leukemia

ABDOMEN q Excessive shedding/hair loss q Itchy q Parasites q Other: ________________

q No problems found q Abnormal lump q Tense/painful q Distended q Other: ______________________________

LUNGS EYES q No problems found q Cloudy lens: L ___ R ___ q Discharge q Other: ________________ q Inflamed q Eyelid Problem:_________________________________

EARS q No problems found q Inflamed q Itchy

q Abnormal lump: L ___ R ___ q Excessive wax/hair q Other: ________________

q No problems found q Breathing too rapidly q Coughing

q Breathing difficulty q Congestion q Other: ________________

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM q No problems found q Excessive gas q Vomiting q Eating disorder

q Abnormal feces (BM) q Diarrhea q Other: ________________


q No problems found q Abnormal urinations q Breast lump(s) q Genital discharge q Anal gland problem q Abnormal testicles q Other: ________________

q Nasal discharge

MOUTH, TEETH, GUMS q No problems found q Broken teeth q Inflamed lips q Loose teeth q Ulcers q Bleeding gums q Abnormal lumps q Tartar buildup q Other: _____________________________

WEIGHT: _____ lbs q Normal range q Too heavy

q Too thin q Recommended weight: _______

INTESTINAL PARASITES/WORMS LEGS & PAWS q No problems found q Lameness/pain

q None seen q Seen during exam q Suspected q Joint/nail problem q Other: ________________





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Pet Boarding and Daycare July August 2016