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St. Pete dog boarding facilities prepare for mysterious illness | wtsp.com – WTSP.com

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Holiday travel is quickly approaching, and many people are making plans for their pets. However, a mysterious respiratory disease has some people concerned with boarding their animals.
Kristen Adkins and her 2-year-old dog Milo love socializing with other dogs, but since learning the illness had popped up around Tampa Bay, Kristen is opting to keep her dog at home. 
“He used to go to the Dog Bar in downtown St. Pete, we have a membership. He goes to the dog park and he goes to daycare regularly. But once we heard about the illness and how serious it is and that it can be fatal, we just decided it’s not even worth the risk,” Adkins said.
Doctors say this mysterious respiratory illness is highly contagious and similar to kennel cough but worse. So far, traditional medications haven’t been effective in fighting it. 
In most cases, the disease leads to coughing, sneezing and lethargy, but if left unchecked it could lead to pneumonia — and in rare cases, death. 
But as the holiday travel rush gets underway, many people across the region are still choosing to board their dogs at facilities like Preppy Pet of St. Petersburg.
Preppy Pet owner Tori Hitchcox said, “We are checking all the dogs and asking all the questions of the owners like have they been sneezing? Have you noticed any different kind of behavior?” 
In addition to monitoring symptoms, Hitchcox said the business always has an extensive cleaning process in place. 
“We have a Halo system in place, so that’s an air filtration system that’s in our air conditioning,” she explained.
Now, she also has an emergency plan in place for dogs that do show symptoms. 
“We would quarantine them until the owner could come pick them up or an emergency contact,” Hitchcox said.
If needed, she also said she would personally take one of the dogs to the veterinarian. 
“These are not just numbers to me, these are all my friends that come in. I take care of them and treat them as wonderfully as I do my own pet,” she added.
Taylor Wallace is one of the owners at Paws ‘n’ Rec, which has facilities across St. Petersburg and Tampa. 
“We require all dogs in our care to receive up-to-date vaccinations for bordatella, rabies, and distemper,” she said. “We have a leading national vet as an advisor and investor, and he has recently reviewed our general health, cleaning and quarantine protocols.” 
Wallace said Paws ‘n’ Rec also employs a full-time cleaning staff and monitors its dogs for symptoms of any disease. 
“We’re also set to open our newest facility in St. Pete on (fingers crossed) December 18. Pet parents that are overly concerned about the risks of group play for dogs can utilize that facility through the holidays, as it is equipped with medical grade HVAC units that produce 100% fresh, outside filtered air at all times into the facility,” Wallace explained.
Veterinarians say people planning to have their dog around other pups this holiday season should also ensure their animals are up to date on vaccines.

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