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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

BBB Tip of the Week: Research pet-care options as vacation time approaches

By Lauren Hall Marketplace Manager

Summer is quickly approaching in Washington and with sun and warmer temperatures, that also means that peak vacation season is on its way. Before a trip, there are a lot of things to get in order, and one of these is always what to do with pets.

If you’re planning a weekend getaway or extended vacation and can’t take Fido or Fluffy, you’ll need to make alternative plans such as hiring an in-home pet sitter or booking a boarding kennel. You’ll want to start the process of finding a trustworthy sitter or kennel early because both get booked early, especially for holidays and prime vacation times.

Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific offers this advice to help pet owners choose the best care for their four-legged family members.

Pet sitters

If you believe your pet does better in the comfort of your home, you may want to hire a professional pet sitter. BBB offers these guidelines:

Ask friends, neighbors, coworkers or your veterinarian if they can recommend a professional pet sitter.

Services can vary widely. Interview prospective pet sitters to find out what services they provide and whether they are trained to administer any necessary medications or emergency first aid.

Find out what fees cover. Some pet sitters are willing to do nonpet related chores, such as bringing in the mail, watering plants, turning lights on or off, or even staying overnight.

Ask the pet sitter for personal references, and call them to inquire about the quality of pet care they received.

The pet sitter will have access to your home, so you will want to find out if they are bonded and whether they have commercial liability insurance coverage.

Check the pet sitter out at


If boarding your pets at a kennel, BBB advises:

Get recommendations from other pet owners, your veterinarian or check with the American Boarding Kennels Association.

Check the facility for cleanliness and safety of the kennel and cages.

Ask if the kennel is properly licensed. Research your state’s specific animal-to-staff ratio and animal-to-square footage requirements to see if the kennel you are considering meets those requirements.

Note the friendliness of staff members and ask about their experience. Be sure to ask if anyone is on the premises overnight.

Make sure the facility requires all pets to have proof of immunizations, and ask about procedures for flea and tick control.

Find out about drop-off/pick-up policies. Facilities may not allow you to drop off or pick up your pet on weekends or may have very limited weekend hours, which may extend the stay of your pet and increase the cost.

Ask about all fees. Some facilities charge extra for daily walks, etc.

Find out how the facility will keep you updated. Some kennels offer live webcams so you can see your pet via their websites.

Ask about procedures in case your pet has a medical emergency.

Check the kennel out at