Choosing the right doggie daycare in wake of Lucky Dog tragedy in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Accusations aimed at Tampa’s Lucky Dog Daycare are mounting by the day. Former employees and customers claim mismanagement, understaffing and poor conditions for animals, but owners say it’s nothing more than a smear campaign trying to shut them down.

News Channel 8 spoke with Animal Behaviorist Wendy Kelly about the news that two dogs died of heat stroke at the Lucky Dog facility within the last few weeks.

“I think it’s tragic,” Kelly said. “And I think that the loss of any dog or injury of any dog is like losing a family member.”

So in the wake of the investigation, what can you do to make sure your dogs stay safe when it comes to boarding?

“You go in unannounced,” Kelly said. “You want to make sure your dog’s not going to escape from this facility. Is it secure? Have they ever have any dog deaths or escapes in the past?”

Kelly suggests you tour the facility and check that dogs are properly screened. You should also ask about staff training and owner involvement.

  • RELATED STORY: Tampa doggie daycare owner speaks out after 2 dogs die of heat exhaustion

“What’s the number of dogs and the ratio of staff to dog? Often times, it’s way too high,” she said.

She recommends one staffer for every six dogs.

You’ll also want to find out about a facility’s record, but Kelly says unless a crime took place your only option is social media.

“Doggy daycare should be a fun experience for the dog, safe fun,” Kelly said. “They go crazy, run around, have a great time. It shouldn’t be, ‘Oh my God, I hope my dog’s going to be okay.'”

Kelly goes to daycare centers, vet clinics and boarding facilities to teach proper training. You can learn more here.

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