RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Pets are a part of many families. A big decision is where to leave them when you can't be home with them. Many people turn to Kennels, but consumer groups like the Better Business Bureau say before you use the services, you need to do your homework.
"I sent my two family pets off to the Kennel and here is one of my family pets now," said Sarah Cole.
Cole probably had the worst experience a pet owner can have with a Kennel. The company picked up her two dogs, Delta and Zeus, but she says her dogs never arrived.
"We get a phone call and the owner said one of our dogs had escaped and was hurt and lost," she said.
Zeus didn't make it home. They later found his body in a ditch. The loss was devastating.
"He was a great dog a really sweet, gentle, kind, quite dog - a fierce guard dog, just really playful and happy. We had him for six years, he was a shelter," said Cole.
Sarah says that she will never use a Kennel again but workers at the Richmond SPCA tell us that despite Sara's horror story, there are some trustworthy Kennels in the area.
"Like everything else, it is not good to lump everyone in the same basket. If you have a bad experience with a Kennel it is important to remember that there are fine boarding Kennels that are responsible and operate with a great deal of integrity," said Robin Starr, Chief Executive Officer for the SPCA.
Starr says searching for a trustworthy Kennel is an important job -- one that can start with where you get your information.
"My advise would always be to take recommendations from people you know and trust before you take them from just somebody off of the Internet," she said.
Starr also says consumers should visit the Kennel and asking lots of questions.
Sarah did her research but still ended up with bad results. The BBB says every year, it receives hundreds of complaints about Kennels. It's created a check-list to help consumers looking for a place to board their pets. Sarah says next time, she'll ask a friend or family member to pet sit. In the meantime, she hopes her story will make owners think twice about who they trust with their pets.