PETA recently obtained state records revealing dangerous, inhumane conditions; inadequate space; and even deaths of animals at four PetSmart stores offering the chain's "PetsHotel" boarding services and uncovered allegations of neglect at PetsHotel locations across the U.S.—so the group is now providing tips for how everyone can keep their animals safe if they must go out of town without them.
PETA's caution to animal guardians comes just after the group obtained public records from the Colorado Department of Agriculture revealing 19 violations of boarding- and grooming-related regulations—and the deaths of two dogs and one cat—at four PetsHotel locations. An inspector found that one employee placed a total of 17 dogs in an unsupervised room overnight. PetsHotel staff told the inspector "if there are less than 80 dogs booked in the hotel, they are only allowed to schedule 1 employee." Inspectors also found missing drain covers that "could have allowed a dog to place their head... into the drain and become injured."
Online reviews from customers of PetsHotel locations across the U.S. include similarly concerning allegations, including animals going without vital pain, seizure, and allergy prescription medication or specialty food; being released to their guardians reeking of and covered with urine and feces; dogs getting sick with giardia; kennel cough; bladder, respiratory, eye, viral, bacterial, and/or intestinal infections; and sores, among other ailments and injuries; housebroken dogs urinating "a ton" immediately upon going outdoors; and more.
"There is no question that the safest and least stressful place for a dog or cat is by your side or, if that isn't possible, at home with a trusted caregiver," says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. "PETA urges all guardians to do their homework thoroughly on any boarding facility they're considering, because their animal's life may depend on it."
PETA recommends the following:
- Ask friends and relatives for recommendations, read online customer reviews, and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against the facility.
- Take a tour of all areas of the facility to ensure that it's clean and well-staffed, the outdoor dog areas are securely fenced, the cats are kept in a soundproofed area separate from dogs, and the cat condos are spacious, with levels to climb and hide in. If the facility doesn't have webcams that allow you to check on your animal anytime you like, do not leave your animal there.
- Ask questions: How often are the litterboxes cleaned and the animals given fresh water and food? How frequently are dogs taken for outdoor walks? Is there a staff member on the premises at all times? What veterinary hospital do they work with, and how quickly can they respond in emergencies?