Alyson Lane, founder of Poochee Care, lost her beloved Labrador Molly after leaving her with an unlicensed dog boarder. She has since become a home boarder herself, and warns pet owners to make sure home boarders are licensed before leaving their dogs with them.
“It all started in 2016, when I had to leave Molly with a dog boarder as I went on vacation,” Alyson recalls. “She was our baby, we wanted all the best for her, and my dad was supposed to look after her. But circumstances changed, and we had to find somebody else to look after Molly for those few days instead.”
Alyson found a boarder offering their services on Facebook, and went to visit her home. Everything looked fine, and Alyson simply did not know what to look for, what questions to ask.
“I was very upset that I had not been told about Molly’s state, and she had not been taken to the vet”
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but at the time I did not know I should ask for a licence. I took everything she said at face value. I left Molly with her, and left my own number as well as my dad’s and my daughter’s, to call in case of emergency.”
No call came while Alyson was away on holiday. When she returned to pick up Molly she was quiet, and spent the day on her daughter’s bed. Alyson assumed she was just unsettled by the change in routine, but after two days of Molly remaining quiet and sleeping for hours on end, she knew something was wrong. She contacted the boarder, who only then revealed Molly had been like that for five days before they picked her up, not eating much if anything.
Alyson says, “I was very upset that I had not been told about Molly’s state, and she had not been taken to the vet.”
Molly was finally taken to the emergency vets, and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, passing away shortly afterwards. Later, Alyson realised that the boarder did not have the proper licence.
“The condition may have already been there, and I am not saying this would not have happened with a licensed boarder. What I could not conceive was that the home borderer hadn’t taken her to the vet’s, or contacted me to let me know of Molly’s condition.”
Now a home boarder herself, Alyson makes a point of only looking after one client’s dog – or one client’s dogs – at a time in her home, and is always ready to take them to the vet’s and contact their owners if anything is off. She is however concerned that others, like herself, may not know they need to ensure the dog carer they choose is licensed.
“In the end, it is most of all a matter of animal welfare”
“I can understand people wanting to look after dogs – they can have good intentions – but every dog boarding establishment needs to be inspected by local authorities. And then of course there are those who know they should have a licence, but also know they can get away with it. Or rather, without it.
“The licensing regulation needs to be enforced by the central government, not just local authorities. I contacted Defra every week over unlicensed home boarders, but never got a reply. The law is not enforced at all – they simply don’t have the manpower, nor the resources. My licensing fee is about 173 pounds, but I would be willing to pay ten times as much if it meant unlicensed premises would be inspected and closed down.
“It is not just a matter of fairness to licensed boarders – although that is important too. In the end, it is most of all a matter of animal welfare.”