The Other Side Of The Gate: What Pet Parents Look For In A Facility Tour
By Jessica Zelmer
The debate has raged (gently so) in the pet care services industry over how to identify the two–legged guardians of four–legged domesticated creatures. Should they be called “pet owners” or “pet parents”? According to a 2013 survey conducted by research consultant Kelton Global, 9 out of 10 pet owners regard their pets as family members, with 81 percent categorizing them as equal family members. The survey revealed that 78 percent consider themselves to be pet “parents”— not “owners”— and as many as 58 percent of pet guardians call themselves “mommy” or “daddy”
to their pet.
Birthdays are celebrated, photos are displayed next to the human kids, and the antics of pets are joyfully discussed with friends and colleagues. It is undeniable that the status of pets as family members is changing and pet care centers must adapt to that. Gone are the days of owners calling around to check pricing and availability. The modern day pet parents are savvy, information hungry, and desire a higher level of care for the furry family members. And, like it or not, they want a tour of your facility.
When you’re busy with other tasks like keeping dozens of pets safe, fed, groomed, and entertained, the prospect of also having your pet boarding or daycare facility “judged” during a tour can be the last thing you want to do. Rather than thinking of a facility tour as a necessary evil to be endured, think of it as an opportunity to show pet parents how truly pawsome you are. If you stay prepared, you’re always ready for a tour.
The Professional Animal Care Certification Counsel (PACCC) makes available a list of items that a pet parent should look for when choosing a facility: How to Select Your Animal Care Provider. Let’s reverse engineer that list for you, the provider. Here is how to be ready for the watchful eye of the modern pet parent:
Physical Safety of Animals
Work spaces are clean and organized. Pets are housed in climate controlled areas with secure fencing and minimal odor. All potential hazards such as electrical cords and broken toys are eliminated.
Vaccination requirements are clearly defined. Complete physical exams are conducted prior to lodging stays. There is open communication when common communicable diseases, like canine cough, are observed in your community.
Procedures and systems are in place to handle any type of emergency that may arise, team is trained in animal first aid, and 24–hour staffing and/or monitoring systems are in place.
Profiles of animal behavior and preferences prior to accepting them for care are documented. Each animal is recognized as an individual and offered a variety of service options versus a one–size–fits–all approach. The priority is ensuring a good match in care. Staff is ready to offer a thorough tour of your pet center or an orientation visit for home care.
Staff is trained in animal behavior including body language and stress signals that provide early warnings of discomfort or illness. Continuing education is participated in and proof
of same is displayed.
Closely Monitor Animal Health
During lodging or home visits each animal is monitored for what it eats and whether eliminations are normal. When to escalate abnormal behavior to veterinarian care is known. Behavior and health observations are openly communicated with clients.
Priority On Emotional Well-Being
The importance of animal happiness is recognized and only those tools that reward good behavior and avoid punishment are used. A variety of activities are offered to appeal to differing animal activity levels and ages.
Friendly, Compassionate Care Givers
Patience is a virtue in answering questions and spending time understanding the needs of your client and their pets. Communication is nice and proactively expresses excitement to be working with new clients.
Legal Business with Memberships in Industry & Community Organizations
Business is legally operated, insured, or bonded, and active in professional pet industry and community organizations.
Keeps Client Contact & Preference Information Updated
Multiple methods of contact for owners, emergency contact, and preferences for notifications when traveling, or in the unlikely event of an emergency, are maintained.
Utilizing this checklist will help ensure you are ready for even the most discerning pet parent. If your pet care business is meeting all of the standards, make the How to Select Your Animal Care Provider list available to your customers as they go through the facility tour. This will show off your high level of care and attention to detail.
Jess Zellmer is a member of the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC). PACCC was founded by industry leaders to bring independent certification to the pet care services industry, an important step for a rapidly growing, easy to enter industry frequently damaged by news reports of serious pet accidents and deaths. In addition to the exams for Certified Professional Animal Care Provider (CPACP), PACCC will be conducting exams for Certified Professional Animal Care Manager (CPACM). For more information, visit www.paccert.org.