Relocating Your Pet to Atlanta
Our Guide to Services for Your Four-Legged Friend
By Susan Flowers, Deb North, and Jackson Reeves
Moving to a new city involves making a variety of decisions such asfinding the right neighborhood, buying a home, looking for a school, seeking new doctors, dentists and other essential services. If you’re a pet owner, similar tasks loom when it comes to your furry family members and making the move as easy on them as possible—and you want to make sure that you’re getting the most reliable and ethical care for your animal companions. Fortunately, you’ve chosen to make your home in a very pet-friendly city! The metro area has plenty to offer in terms of housing, healthcare, grooming, daycare and training, for cats, dogs, small animals and pets of all distinctions—not to mention many ways for you and your furry friend to get out and enjoy your new city together.
Whether for routine care or treatment of serious illnesses, choosing the right medical services for your pet can be one of the most important decisions you make. Dr. Michael Smith of Beaver Crossing Animal Hospital in Lilburn suggests that you start with personal referrals. But be choosy about whom you ask. “Ask a neighbor who not only has a dog, but takes good care of their dog, playing with it, interacting with it, walking it,” he says.
Once you’ve settled on a potential provider or two, schedule a visit to determine your rapport with the vet and his or her staff—and your pet’s rapport as well. Beaver Crossing tells potential new clients that they’re welcome to schedule a meet-and-greet appointment to assess the client’s level of comfort with the operation.
“Are they greeting and meeting you properly?” Smith asks. “Is the vet willing to meet with you? Some folks do everything out of sight, and the technicians act as the liaison between the client and the vet. In certain instances, the pets do better when the owner is out of the room, but most of the time, it’s better to meet with the pet’s healthcare provider. The client and the vet need to be able to meet during the exam particularly.”
During your visit, make sure the facility meets your needs. “Every practice doesn’t offer the same things,” Smith says. “Some pet owners might require boarding, grooming, bathing, dentistry and surgery or hospitalization. Do they have their own x-ray machine?” And take note of the cleanliness of the facility. “Extreme odor is not a good thing,” Smith says.
If you’re at a loss for a place to start your search, the American Animal Hospital Association Web site (www.aaha.org) provides a listing of accredited veterinary hospitals in the area. The Georgia Veterinary Medical Association Web site (www.gvma.net) also has a “Find a Vet” application. Once you’ve made your choice, be sure to get your pet an overall health check-up, including getting up-to-date vaccinations.Our Picks:
Ansley Animal Clinic (404-873-1786)
Beaver Crossing Animal Hospital (770-921-4981)
Briarcliff Animal Clinic (404-874-6393)
Chateau Animalia (404-941-2780)
Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital (404-812-9880)
Sit ’n Paws (678-521-2541)
Treehouse Animal Clinic (404-355-7387)
Trusted Friend Animal Clinic (404-907-1404)
The Village Vets (404-371-0111)
Once you’ve found that new vet, you’ve also found a possible source for pet trainer recommendations. Certified Master Trainer Ashleigh Kinsley suggests asking friends and searching the Internet for trainers with positive reviews. “When looking for a new trainer, it’s important to find a reputable, experienced trainer with good references,” says Kinsley, who works with Georgia K-9 Academy. “They should be experienced with your breed of dog, friendly and they don’t condemn other trainers for their methods of training. There’s more than one way to an end result.”
Always ask about a trainer’s experience, accreditation and certifications, as well as whether the trainer offers any sort of guarantee. Ask whether training includes the owner as well as the dog. If you’re trying to address your pet’s behavior problems, you may wish to stay away from group classes.
If the trainer has a facility, he or she should be willing to let you see it. Other warning signs include lack of certification, lack of references or bad references.Our Picks:
Atlanta Dog Trainer (770-754-9178)
Atlanta Dog Wizard (404-234-2205)
Georgia K-9 Academy (678-984-5735)
K-9 Coach (404-603-9744)
Jabula Dog Academy (404-499-9340)
Grooming and Pet Spas
For services that may require you to leave your pet behind, asking the right questions is even more important. After all, it’s not as if your dog or cat can tell you whether he or she had a good or bad experience while out of your sight.
If your pet requires grooming on a regular basis, your search can be made easier with a few simple questions. Aside from inquiring about a groomer’s experience and their certification, “probably the most important thing is to ask how many dogs they work with in a day,” says Barry Bourgeois, a nationally certified Master Groomer and owner of Canine House of Style in Atlanta.
Be wary of someone who claims to routinely groom more than seven or eight dogs in a day—especially if they claim to groom 15 or 20 dogs a day, or that they have no limit.
“There’s no way to be gentle and do a good job if you’re going that fast,” Bourgeois says. A high-volume groomer can also produce a stressful environment for your dog, as too many animals in one space make so much noise that other dogs become nervous, he adds.Our Picks:
Atlanta Dog Spa (404-879-1600)
Canine House of Style (404-320-4222)
Dogma Dog Care (770-436-4346)
Glamour Paws (404-885-9285)
Daycare and Boarding
Doggie daycare can be a great way to socialize your dog and make sure he or she gets plenty of exercise while you’re at work. And many vets and other providers offer boarding for different occasions, as well. As with any other service, it pays to know what to look for ahead of time.
When screening potential daycare centers, start by asking about the maximum number of dogs per caregiver. The International Boarding and Pet Services Association recommends one staffer per each 15 dogs, although a 1:10 ratio is preferred when dealing with more active dogs. Mixing large and small dogs is also generally not a good idea. In addition, make sure the provider separates dogs by age, activity level and other traits; for instance, a small adult dog and a new puppy should probably be separated based on the small adult’s level of play.
With a daycare or boarding facility, treat the screening process much as you would when selecting a daycare center or school for your child. Is the staff screened and properly educated? Is there proper supervision at all times? Are there adequate security and emergency measures in place?
Daycare options include facilities that offer dogs free run of the house or more confined quarters in a kennel. There is service value in allowing the dog to run freely outside for many hours of the day, but it comes with a price. Boarding at a dog daycare will naturally be more expensive than the local vet, who typically kennels the dog and handlers provide various walks throughout the day.
In Marietta, Kathy Baker used her love of dogs to build a 9,000-square-foot facility called Must Love Dogs, which lets dogs interact and play freely, but always supervised, for 10 hours (or until they run out of steam). In Alpharetta, Kelly Marine launched The Barker Lounge as a way to mix her corporate know-how and background in volunteering to help her create a daycare program designed to enrich its clients’ lives mentally, physically and socially. When it comes to picking the right daycare facility, Marine recommends, “Ask around to neighbors and co-workers. First-hand experience is often the best information.”Our Picks:
The Barker Lounge (770-410-1364)
Bark ATL (404-688-2275)
Barking Hound Village (404-897-3422)
Central Bark (404-248-2275)
Dog Days (404-266-8668)
Must Love Dogs (770-928-4355)
Piedmont Bark (404-873-5400)
Puppy Haven (404-869-2494)
When you’re settled in and ready to see the city, many restaurants, like Marietta Pizza Co. on the Marietta Square and Anis Bistro in Buckhead, have pet-friendly outdoor patios where you and your pet can people-watch. Named after the owners’ cherished golden retriever, Lucky’s Burgers and Brew in Roswell (with other locations across the metro) thinks nothing better accentuates their restaurant’s atmosphere than a dog playing in their patio. At Sophie’s Uptown, you can get pastries at a bakery that supports animal rescue groups.
Of course, all major parks and many attractions in the Atlanta area are happy to see your pet as long as he’s on a leash. Together, you might explore the grounds of historic Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, hike the trails of Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and cool off in the fountains at Centennial Olympic Park. Stone Mountain Park also welcomes leashed dogs and cats, but know that the areas you may roam together there are limited. Not to be missed, Piedmont Park is a wonderful place to get out and walk with your dog, and Piedmont Dog Park is one of the few areas in town where dogs may run free.Our Picks:
Anis Bistro (404-233-9889)
Lucky’s Burgers & Brew (770-518-5695)
Marietta Pizza Co. (770-419-0900)
Nancy G’s Cafe (404-705-8444)
Le Petit Marché (404-371-9888)
Piedmont Dog Park (404-875-7275)
Sophie’s Uptown (404-812-0477)
Resources for Your Relocation
Pet owners have additional issues to consider when they relocate. Here are a few resources to help take the worry out of your move and start your new life in Atlanta:
- The Humane Society of the United States offers articles related to moving pets—even how to ease the stress of moving your fish—at humanesociety.org.
- If you’d rather have someone else ship your pet for you, search for a pet shipper through the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International at ipata.com.
- The Georgia Department of Agriculture provides information about animal health, including what you need for your dogs and cats when bringing them into the state. Call 404-656-3600 or visit agr.georgia.gov.
- For directories of apartments, hotels, attractions, stores and restaurants that accept pets, as well as links to pet-related services and products, visit peoplewithpets.com and dogfriendly.com.
- Georgia Network of Professional Pet Sitters consists of over 75 individually owned pet care companies. The website gapetsitters.com allows you to search for pet sitters by zip code or by city or town.
The Barker Lounge
A Fun Day of Play for your Dog
Looking for an alternative to leaving your dog home alone while you’re gone all day? Doggy daycare offers a clean, safe and fun environment for your pet to play with other dogs. This can also lead to more confident interactions with other pets and people outside of the daycare environment.
The Barker Lounge in Alpharetta, a doggie daycare facility, features inside and outside play areas for its furry guests. Dogs are separated into small groups based on size, play style and age. This enables staff members to get to know each dog and to quickly recognize abnormal behavior. Staff members ensure each pet safely enjoys the play areas and their individual playgroups. The scents, games and interaction with other people and pooches can really help exercise a pet’s brain.
Doggy daycare is also a great source of physical exercise. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they find their own ways to entertain themselves. Rather than spending hours alone and possibly finding mischief, a quality daycare experience can give your pet a healthy way to release pent-up energy.
Want to find out if The Barker Lounge is a good fit for you and your pet? Stop by the Alpharetta facility to look around and see how the dogs interact. Plus, every dog receives one free day of daycare to ensure your dog will enjoy the environment.
For more information, call 770-410-1364 or visit thebarkerlounge.com/alpharetta-ga.html.