Doggy Day Care
Hank Investigates: Doggy Day Care
It seemed like Yawkey the labrador had it made with a good home with loving owners.
"We love him entirely," Yawkey’s owner Andrew Levitt said.
Yawkey is picked up each day by a dog care professional.
Eva the dog got a new devoted family and a new spot in a dog day care, too.
"I don't have kids and all I have is dogs," Eva’s owner Ken Vining said.
The families trusted their pets would be kept safe, but that’s not what happened.
"I cried, it was a horrible afternoon," Ellie Vining said.
When the Vinings picked up Eva from day care, she was bleeding from a gash on her nose, they raced her to the vet.
Andy was told Yawkey couldn't move because he had jumped out his dog walker's car window and fractured his hip.
"It was awful to see him in such pain," Levitt said.
Their doggy day cares did not pay the costly vet bills, leaving angry owners wondering how it could happen.
"I mean its devastating," Ken Vining said.
And our investigation found dog day cares housing and handling up to fifty dogs at a time. But we found this booming buisness has practically no state oversight, no licensing, no mandatory inspections, no rules and no insurance requirements.
State officials know that it's outdated and can even be risky.
"Right now do you know where all the dog day cares are?" Hank Phillippi Ryan asked.
"No, we don't," Mass Department of Agriculture’s Brad Mitchell said.
Mass law says a place with more than three dogs needs a local kennel license.
But does that apply to dog day care? We found that depends on whom you ask.
In Reading, for instance, town officials decided every dog day care would be licensed as a kennel and rigorously inspected.
"If these places aren't inspected, what could happen?" Phillippi Ryan asked.
"The dogs could become ill. There would be infection, there would be odors there would be noise, there would be trash," Jane Fiore of the Reading Board of Health said.
One Reading dog handler said rules are good for business, break them and licenses can get revoked.
"We beg for regulations from the towns where we work. Not only for the level of service, but for the reputation of doggy day cares in general," dog day care provider Anton Melchionda said.
But our investigation found that pet protection depends on where you live. Each community can create its own rules, or have no rules at all.
In Beverly day cares do not need kennel licenses.
"They are not considered a kennel because the animals are not staying on the premises overnight," James Lindley, Beverly Animal Services Officer, said.
Boston also just licenses overnight facilities, daytime day cares get inspected only if there's a complaint.
"There are no specific rules on inspection for day care centers during the day," Boston Animal Control’s Jim Cahill said.
Malden does inspect, but officials here decided day cares are not kennels.
"The dogs aren’t stored in a way that your normal kennel would," Officer Kevin Alkins of Malden Animal Control said.
To prevent the spread of disease, 7News has learned that the Department of Agriculture will soon require dog day cares to register with the commonwealth.
"There's always some risk when you bring a lot of animals together," Mitchell said.
But those new regulations still won’t require inspections or even minimum standards.
So what does your town do? Before you drop off your dog, you better find out.
"Consumers are totally putting their faith in strangers to take care of their dog, and some bad things can happen," Levitt said.
Experts say it’s a good idea to make an unannounced visit to your day care. If you're not allowed access, you might want to go elsewhere. Check the links below for more information.
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