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While You’re Away…Pet Care Options for Busy Pet Parents

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dogs from Dog America

Teressa is a technical sales professional, freelance content writer and a lifetime Kalamazoo County resident.

Kalamazoo area families love their furry friends! The American Veterinary Medicine Association says about 56% of American households include pets. Using 2000 census data, we can calculate that in the Kalamazoo-Portage, approximately 68,018 households have at least one dog, cat, bird or other animal. Kalamazoo folks are hard workers, too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts over 170,000 workers in that same area as of February 2017.

Based on this, we know many pets are regularly left at home while ‘their people are at work’. Animals left alone can develop anxiety and/or bad habits causing them to be sad and bored, also making their owners unhappy. Today, pet families want options for quality pet care while they work. Lucky for folks in the Kalamazoo area, there are some terrific options for occupying your pets’ time and enriching their lives, even when you can’t be with them.

One such place is Dog America, a doggie daycare facility located in Portage. It provides supervised care and managed play during the work week, for full or half days. After filling out an application and providing vaccination information for their dogs, pet parents can drop off their “kids” for a full or half day. Online reservations are available for owners’ convenience. Roughly 20 to 25 dogs are accepted daily, segregated by size and other factors. Many dogs attend on a regular basis and even develop favorite friends! Capacity is limited though to allow for training opportunities and close supervision.

Jamie Braun is a Dog America Senior Play Attendant, and one of four staff members. She has been with the organization since late 2015. Braun got her start in pet care in 2008. After studying biology at WMU, Braun discovered she simply “loved doggies” and began her professional career working in doggie daycare. Braun has three of her own dogs, who also visit on occasion.

“One of the best features of Dog America is that we are all indoor, the first in the area,” says Braun. “Dogs are protected from mud, rain and extreme temperatures.” Additionally, “Dogs come home nice and tired. And better behaved. Due to the small class size, the staff can work on basic manners and training with each dog during the day.”

If you’re looking for in home services, Rover.com is a Seattle-based, nation-wide online service that matches local pet sitters with pets needing care. In the Kalamazoo area, more than 28 professional and vetted sitters are available through the site. Don’t let the name fool you??"Rover.com caregivers or ‘sitters,’ as they’re called here, can provide services to pets of all kinds. Dogs, cats, fish, birds and rabbits are among the species included. Once pet owners select a caregiver (typically based on geography, pet specialty and availability), they can securely book and pay for an in-home pet sitter, all online. Rover bonds and insures their caregivers and guarantees services. Premium insurance, emergency support and photos of the visit can be directed to your phone! The services range from drop in visits, dog walking, dog boarding and doggie day care.

Rover now provides services throughout the United States, and has recently mounted a nationwide ad campaign. Jaynie Fawley, a registered Rover Sitter in the Kalamazoo area since 2016, loves animals of all kinds, especially her own Chihuahua. Fawley’s background includes 10 years of experience as a nanny, a Liberal Arts degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and four years of running her own nanny service. Fawley’s personal veterinarian initially turned her on to Rover, and her immediate thought was, “They need me!”

For those looking for pet care, Fawley has the following advice. “Meet a potential pet sitter with your pet well in advance of your anticipated need, and leave plenty of time for the introduction. Keep in mind the first candidate may not be a good fit, and additional interviews might be required. Rely on your intuition and confirm a sitter’s qualifications. Upfront planning will help ensure the best, long term fit.”

Braun added, “Ask questions. If you aren’t 100-percent comfortable, look for someone else.”

It’s great that we pet owners no longer have to worry about pet care options. No longer will you have to worry what your pets are up to because as a community of pet lovers- you’re covered! Here are some additional options in the area to check-out: Derspinna Kennels, Camp Fido, and Camp Critter Country.

New to the area? The local dog parks are another option for both you and your furry friends to meet new friends. Prairie View Park, Markin Glen Kalamazoo, The Bark Park, Meadow Run Dog Park, and River Oaks County Park are all close by.

And remember to check out the local SPCA of Southwest Michigan if you’re looking for an adoptable friend, now that you have great options to care for them!

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