Vasihnavi Prasad, a freelance media consultant was in for a shock when she saw the state of her pet dog Sumo, after he was lodged at a veterinary hospital/pet lodging facility for nine days.
Sumo, a pug, is suffering from health conditions like spondylosis, and thus cannot control his feces or urine, and hence needs diapers. Vaishnavi, to her horror, noted that since Sumo’s diapers were not changed regularly and he was even suffering from sores and infections. She then put up a Facebook post detailing the experience with the facility and many other pet owners echoed the view with the same and several other establishments, bringing up the question — how good are pet lodging facilities in the city?
Vaishnavi says that although Sumo is fast recovering, she is planning to take up the issue further. “I really do want to file a complaint against them and take the issue to court. Because, I have realised that the problem is happening with many other people and their pets, too.” She adds, “These kennels need more regulations. Every kennel has its own set of rules, but even they are just on paper. They say that you need to provide a medical certificate for your pet and proof of vaccination, but when you actually go to drop off your dog, they don’t ask for anything. So every other pet is at the risk of infections.”
Shravan Krishnan, an animal activist, who also runs Hotel for Dogs, a pet boarding facility says, “Though 80 per cent of such facilties are owned by veterinarians, they all see it more from the business point of view alone. They are not answerable to anyone, and that is troubling.”
Pet owners should also understand that no facility could recreate the comfort of home for a pet. Every dog is different, and they are prone to pick up allergies when they are at a different environment,” opines Shravan, adding, “Although what happened in Vaishnavi’s case was pure negligence, pet owners must understand that even if boarding facilities take constant care of the pet, they will fall behind due to circumstances that are not in their hands.”
Nithin Chandan of Incare rescue and shelter for dogs, says that it all boils down to the behaviour of the employees at such facilities — “Most of them do not have any prior experience with pets. Unless they really care about the pet, they don’t do a good job. Also, commercialisation has lead to this booming as a business, as there has been a case of someone turning a large container into a hostel for dogs.”
Sanjay Krishna, a pet owner says, “While the best choice is to ask someone you trust to take care of your pets, it is not possible to do it every time and we rely on such places. But when they boast of special care and veterinarians around the clock and in spite of that such things happen, we are left in a tough spot.”
Clearly, the pet care scene in Chennai is in a sorry condition, and until a uniform set of regulations comes in place, our four- legged friends will still be short of good pet-sitters.