Local dog owners will have another option for pet housing at Critter Sitters, a new boarding kennel in Cascabel that offers dogs a safe, comfortable environment that's also fun and interactive.
Lee Helfrich and Megan O'Connell have worked together to build the kennel that has been fully operational for the past month.
The idea for the kennel came from O'Connell, who said she wanted to create a positive environment for dogs where they would also feel at ease while their owners were away.
O'Connell has experience working closely with animals and is a certified ABC (Animal Behavior College) dog trainer and a member of the Association of Pet dog Trainers. O'Connell currently teaches dog obedience classes on Saturday mornings at the Pomerene Food Bank.
The Critter Sitters Kennel is a 10-unit structure that can house up to 15 dogs, with three 6x8' units and seven 4X8' units. The kennels also feature an open area that is 16X48' that dogs can use for exercise or other interactive activities. The kennel is air-conditioned and heated and is equipped with a floor drainage system to help keep it clean.
The process of building the kennel and getting it approved by zoning took time, Helfrich said, since he and O'Connell had to go through the permit process. After they received the approval of all the adjoining neighbors, Helfrich said they were ready to sketch out the blueprints and build the kennel.
Helfritch said he and O'Connell did the majority of the construction work themselves and had the entire kennel completed after about seven months.
"We were the construction crew," Helfrich said.
Instead of simply leaving them in the kennels, O'Connell said she and Helfrich make it a priority to interact with the dogs and let them get the physical activitiy they need to be happy and entertained. O'Connell said the dogs get a lot of human contact at the kennel and enjoy the amount of attention they receive.
"We strive to meet the emotional needs of the dogs as well as the physical needs," O'Connell said.
The kennel also offers a number of optional excercise activities for dogs. For each dog, a half hour walk is $5, an hour walk ot $9 and any additional play time is $3 per 20-minute session.
O'Connell said the kennels are cleaned daily and the dogs can also be bathed brushed if their owners request. If transportation is a problem, Helfrich said they will pick up and drop off dogs as long as the gas mileage is affordable. The current fee is $10 per trip into Benson.
For dogs to be accepted into the kennel, O'Connell said they must be up to date on all their vaccinations, including bordetella, a form of tracheobronchitis in dogs. Also known as "kennel cough", bordetella is an upper respiratory illness in dogs that can be spread at places frequented by many dogs at once.
In addition to already having a longtime love of animals, Helfrich said the kennel was established to provide a needed service to the community and give pet owners a comfortable and reliable place to bring their dogs.
"It's something we enjoy doing and look forward to providing this service for people," Helfritch said.
The Critter Sitters kennel is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are also available by appointment only.
AZ Pet Sitting Service