Is Your Dog Safe While at Doggy Daycare?

We’ve heard of all the wonderful things that a good doggy daycare can offer your dog: socialization, exercise, and trained caregivers who will supervise your beloved furry companion. 

This was taken when Rumpy attended daycare.
This was taken when Rumpy attended daycare.

But there’s so much more that comes from using a doggy daycare. Dogs were infected with a flu strain while attending daycares in Urban Chicago. Several dogs have died as a result.

Twenty dogs boarding in an Arizona daycare died after the air conditioning apparently went out. The dogs were in the care of Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s son. Investigations found it was a freak accident and no charges were filed.

A pug died of heat stroke while in the care of a Tampa, Florida daycare.

In 2012, a bulldog named Cooper died of heatstroke on his 6th birthday while at a Weymouth, Massachusettes doggy daycare.

And, tragically, dogs are mauled to death at daycares. A reader emailed me yesterday and told me that her daughter’s dog was mauled to death by two other dogs while at a doggy daycare.

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. A search online found the following:

An owner of two huskies was pressured to put them down after they mauled a Jack Russel Terrier while in the care of a daycare. 

Last year Mouffie, an 8 year old poodle, died at a Charleston, South Carolina daycare after having been bitten by another dog. According to the daycare, Mouffie was bitten after having a seizure, and claim they offered to take the dog to an emergency vet but the dog’s owner told them no. The dog’s owner claims that never happened.

A chihuahua named Jojo died while in the care of a Hawaii daycare. The daycare told the owner that their dog was examined by a vet and must have died of natural causes. However, when the dog was examined by the family’s regular vet, they learned their dog had been bitten several times, and that’s what caused their dog’s death. Two former employees later disclosed they’d been bitten while breaking up fights at the daycare.

Doggy daycares tout the wonderful experience they offer your dog, but what kind of training do the people working at these places have to do this job? According to the Houston Chronicle’s Chron blog, all you need to open a doggy daycare in Texas is an understanding of dogs, a business license, a space and some customers. Some states require little more then a kennel license.

To be sure, there are some very high quality daycares out there. But not all. A daycare where Rumpy attended told me when I signed him up that the owner was a certified trainer. But as time went on, the owner was usually not onsite. The last day Rumpy attended, I saw a dog outside on the sidewalk. It was a high-traffic area, so I followed the dog. He came right to me when I called, and when I had hold of his collar, I saw he had a visitors tag from the daycare where Rumpy attends. I returned the dog, picked up Rumpy, and never went back. I later learned the dog I found had dug a hole and escaped beneath the fence. The dogs were not being supervised when that happened. That daycare is still in operation.

Does YOUR dog attend daycare? How do you know your dog is safe there? 

21 thoughts on “Is Your Dog Safe While at Doggy Daycare?

  1. Easy is at home with us, I’m such a “helicopter-mom” even my parents shaked their heads as they had to watch him for some hours and I called them in an endless loop :o(

  2. Dear RUMPY my daddy works at a daycare camp bow wow I go all the time each staff is tranined on canine behavior and have passed pet CPR all are dogs are in groups large dogs in with just large dogs and small dogs in with small each yard is maned bye a credited counselor when dogs are playing in the yard all the cabins are cleaned right away if a dog makes a mess or goes home all the yards are cleaned and mop and all messy pick up durning their brefest/lunch/dinner break corps put down rules on how to run and clean and handle the dogs and they do watch the webcam and something not right we get a visit from corporate not saying the outher daycare in the area do the same thing we have a lot of them some are just mom and pop places

    1. Your company has a good reputation, but you’re right that not all are run that way. Sadly, there are no regulations in place or monitoring of doggy daycares.

  3. Mom had a bad experience once when our regular boarding facility couldn’t take Phantom and Dakota while she was away. This other place (at a veterinarian clinic) also had a doggy day care. Mom made it very clear on the boarding documents that her dogs were NOT to be in the same area as any other dogs. We don’t do dog parks, doggy day care, etc. When she picked them up, Phantom had a puncture wound on his face that had gotten infected. They “claimed” they had no idea what happened to him and they said that the two dogs were not with other dogs. BUT one of the kennel workers told Mom that one day someone slipped up and put them in the doggy day care area and a dog attacked Phantom. You can imagine that the sh#@##@#$ hit the fan when Mom heard that. Then they were all apologies and wanted to treat Phantom. Mom said no way, he is going to his regular vet and you will receive the bill!!! Never used that facility again. It is a shame that not all people are honorable.

    Woos – Ciara and Lightning

    1. It’s sad that we have to be so careful with our beloved companions, but with there being no regulatory agency for these types of operations, you really are taking your chances.

  4. I’m still crying over the death of my granddog Wyatt – a 15 pound Jack Russell, 5 years old and love on four legs. It wasn’t his first injury at that doggy daycare (20 stitches earlier and his “dad” still took him back). My daughter uses a very high end doggy day care a day a week for another granddog and she watches him on video camera during the day. The good day care is not far from where Wyatt was mauled to death. Wyatt was my daughter’s dog – “dad” got him in the divorce. After Wyatt was … murdered, there’s no other word for it … in between bouts of sobbing I researched and found out dog abuse and death is a problem coast to coast at various doggy daycares.

    Not long ago a woman in San Diego’s small dog (about the size of Wyatt) was mauled to death 5 minutes after being dropped off. There are dogs who are being abused by the day care owners by keeping them muzzled (to prevent barking) and locked alone in rooms for hours on end – to the point the dogs are emotionally traumatized and so dehydrated they need medical care. It is a miracle none died there. If that was my dog put through that you all might be raising bail money for me. The place is still in operation and the dogs there are probably still being abused.

    I stopped at a doggy day care in Chula Vista today and although I have no intention of placing McKinley there I interviewed several of the workers asking about things from onsite dog deaths (they were shocked) to muzzling, etc. It is probably one of the safe ones as it is quite open to view from the front desk and people are in and out all day long getting grooming, food, etc., but who knows? It is where I go to get her raw food diet.

    Probably there are many good places, but having lost my granddog just a few days ago, his sister’s chances of going to even a quality dog daycare for socialization are almost nil. I will find another dog to foster after I move and she can get her socialization (and the foster a home) one doggie at a time. 😥

    1. To be sure, there are good daycares out there. Paul works for one, and he’s always posting photos on Twitter of his dogs (he takes them sometimes to daycare) playing with the other dogs. What I see is a clean space that’s not overcrowded. Paul is with the dogs supervising the play. And only dogs of similar size are together. Large dogs and small dogs should not be playing in the same space.

      Unfortunately, this is not a regulated industry, and because many states consider pets as property, the legal liability is not that high, i’m guessing.

      1. Apparently this is one of the things that is going to be on my plate to deal with. Starting in Massachusetts.

        Legal liability issues are climbing in many states. Mass being one of them. I’m hoping this will give me some traction, although gods know I never wanted traction to come in this form.

  5. It was my dog that your reader emailed you about. My exhusbad retained custody of my dog during the divorce, and over last summer mysteriously needed 20 stitches after an “accident” at daycare. this was not a clue to my ex and he proceeded to continue to put my pup in the same daycare. Over the weekend my wee little Jack Russell, Wyatt, was killed while the daycare worked watched… She clearly was ill equipped to handle a dog daycare in her home if she was unable to get these animals off my 15lb boy. Please please I urge all to screen your providers carefully, make sure they temperament test any visiting animals, and separate pups based on size and activity level. May my big Wy fly high.

    1. Your ex is a dumbass. If a 15-pound dog needs 20 stitches because of an accident, the LAST place the dog needs to be going is BACK to that place.

      Now enough of me being a jerk. I am so sorry for your loss. May Wyatt rest in peace.

      1. I am fully aware of the douchebagery that is my ex-husband, common sense is NOT a quality he possess.

        The pup I have has and will always go to good mojo dog center. All employees have ear pieces and mics that they communicate with. I have personally seen staff all go running when requested to escort a dog out of the area to prevent a dog fight. All dogs are temperament tested before even being allowed other dogs at the facility with a series of exponentially obnoxious stimuli, then pups of different activity levels and sizes are brought in to test the new applicant. Finally the applicant must pass a 1/2 day session at the facility with no aggression issues.

        Dogs are separated into different rooms based on size and activity level (my little man is a 30lb puggle yet is usually in the Gym where the most of the large dogs and high energy dogs are. The green room is for smaller dogs or lower energy dogs. The green room also has the bed where staff members sleep over night with the dogs in boarding as it is a cage free facility. Dogs are separated into different crates for feeding times.

        Webcams are in all rooms dogs are in at the facility along with both the front and back yards and parents are encouraged to peek in on their pups at their leisure. All doors in the facility have gates on them, with almost an air lock style where one door does not open until the door behind is shut for safety. Employees are not allowed to be on their cell phones during the day so that eyes are on the dogs at all times.

        I have mentioned this facility to the ex who says that his new dog (yes this irresponsible individual is getting another pet) will be going to the place where Wyatt was killed “because that dog won’t be there anymore.” Again common sense is a luxury this man clearly was not blessed with.

        All I can say is I hope others learn from his mistakes and strongly encourage mommies and daddies to interview your facility the way you would for a child daycare.


  6. I have had the boys in day care for a one day stay and also when we go away on vacation..they stay at the boarding facility run by the no kill shelter I was a vol at..vets are outstanding as are the staff and the money goes towards the shelter so the motivation is welfare..i trust it with my dogs and the cats and that is why we drive 2 and half hours away to take them there..when we have day care closer…sad times when children and animals have issues with daycare….

  7. Leaving a dog at daycare is akin to having your child in daycare. They really can’t communicate what’s going on.

    The doggy daycare we use had a death several years ago – a small dog had been taunting a mastiff all day. When they brought it in, it got away and attacked the mastiff, who killed it instantly. The daycare was shut down and Animal Control investigated. No charges were filed and they reopened after redoing the fencing and procedures. I was surprised when it happened. I’ve shown up unannounced, toured the facilities, and seen the setup.

    I don’t want to lose my dogs, but when they were younger they needed to run off the energy more than I was able to provide. Now that they’re older, we only use it when traveling. If we’re gone for the day, we have a pet sitter we trust who will come in and outwait the dogs until they calm down for her to go through the dog gate.

    Do I trust the daycare? For the most part. It’s been the same people working there for a long time. The manager started out as a grunt about the same time we moved here and has been there a long time also. The biggest thing is the dogs have come home healthy and when we take them, they love to go in there. And when we’re traveling, I don’t want them sitting in a cage with a 20 minute walk a day (yes, some kennels do it that way). I want them out in the yard, getting tired.

    As for the child, I had to remove her on no notice from a home based daycare. She was only three and didn’t tell me, she told my sister about the other kids beating her up. When I questioned the daycare owner, she said that yes, it did happen once in a while and for my daughter to not be such a wuss. I took my daughter back and spent the rest of the day finding another daycare. I didn’t report it to the county as I had no proof, but she eventually went out of business. BTW – that was 30 years ago. Some things don’t change.

    Enjoy your weekend! Good topic.


  8. We haven’t tried Hunter out at daycare yet. While that option is convenient for days when we are both working, the risks that we’ve calculated outweigh the good. Daycare seems good for helping Hunter learn to socialize more but the truth is, I don’t know how other dogs behave, I can only speak for my own boy. I’m not willing to risk Hunter getting sick or hurt by another dog.

  9. I’m so glad that you had nothing wrong with your daycare when you visited there Rumpy….I remember you loved the place….

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