As the owner of Paradise Kennels, Ashton Thompson carries on a family business and passion that began with her parents in 1977. “We’ve been around for a long time, we have a love of pets, and we know they all need love in their own unique way,” shares Ashton.
Over the years, Ashton’s dad, Richard B. Lord, made sure she learned all aspects of the business. “It’s all I’ve ever known,” she says. “I learned to clean kennels, take care of the pets spending the night, and how to bathe, blow dry and cut hair.”
With Ashton’s years of experience and love of animals, she’s the perfect resource for things to consider when choosing a pet boarding facility. Here’s what Ashton suggests when deciding who will care for your pets while you travel.
Interact with the Staff
“It’s good to walk your pet through and see how they react with the staff,” says Ashton. Also note how the staff respond to your pet and ask if a temperament test is required for boarding.
Consider if the staff keeps a record for your pet while it’s in residence. “We keep a little report card on each one,” says Ashton, “so we know if they’ve [gone regularly] and whether they went inside or outside.” The Paradise Kennels staff also makes notes on feedings, medication administration, and general demeanor.
Tour the Facility
“Being able to see the facility at any time is important,” says Ashton, “not just during certain hours when they have time to spiffy it up and you only get to see it then.” Spontaneous touring gives you a feel for how the facility is generally maintained and allows you to observe staff during their normal routine.
“You can take a tour any time of day at our facility,” she adds. “We want you to be able to see what’s going on.”
“Also, make sure your pet has adequate space,” says Ashton. “We have a large facility and large spaces for your pet when they board. Our kennels are 4 feet wide by 16 feet long for the small ones, so it’s enough space for them to move around. We still take them outside a few times a day as well, but the whole facility is indoors.”
“In Georgia, you’ve got to make sure that where you drop your pets off has heating and air conditioning,” says Ashton. Ideally, the primary boarding facilities will be indoors with access to outdoor areas at certain times.
“At our facility, the whole kennel that your pet stays in is indoors,” explains Ashton. “There’s a half door in the middle that separates the kennel into two parts so that we can clean one side then the other and not interfere with the pet.”
Indoor boarding shouldn’t mean your pet has no outside time, though. “We take them outside at least twice a day, sometimes more if needed, to our grassy area where we can walk them on a leash,” she says. “We also have a play yard that’s fenced in and all concrete so that it’s easy to sanitize.”
Items from Home
Inquire about supplies provided and what you can bring from home.
“We have bedding, bowls, food, water – everything in-house,” says Ashton, “but some people like to bring their pet’s blankie or favorite toy. We welcome any of those items you’d like to bring to keep them comfortable."
General Pet Care
Consider what pet care services are available, including options for emergency and non-emergency medical treatments.
“We have Paradise Animal Hospital right next door,” says Ashton. “It is very convenient because we have a lot of elder pets that stay. It’s nice that Dr. Steven Knittel is next door and that we have his number 24 hours a day in case of emergency.”
“We also have some pets that get work done when they come to stay, such as their yearly exam. So there is the convenience of it as well as safety.”
An added bonus can be found in facilities that offer grooming services. Your pet returns to you freshly groomed and a bit pampered too. “You can opt for grooming if you’d like,” Ashton adds. “Some just need a bath; some need a bath, toenails, de-shed, or haircuts – whatever you like, we can accommodate.”
Paradise Kennels provides services including boarding, grooming, and farewell services that include a crematory and pet cemetery. Visit ParadiseKennelsGa.com for details. Ashton’s passion for nurturing crosses over into her home life as well. “I have a zoo of my own,” she says. “I have 6 dogs, 2 cats, a husband and a son, hermit crabs, a turtle, and a house full of plants. They’re the best thing in the world.”