I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: You could be dropping your dog or cat off at an illegal kennel and not even know it

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Tuesday, April 2, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Time is running out to board your pets during Spring Break. Many kennels already have waiting lists.

But be careful if you do find an available space. It could be an illegal facility and could put your pup at risk.

The law requires kennels to be licensed in Georgia. The state Department of Agriculture inspects licensed facilities several times a year. They do it to make sure the facility is safe. Unlicensed kennels mean nobody is inspecting their facility or holding them accountable for dangerous conditions.

Graced Kennels, for example, is a licensed kennel. It’s already crunch time there.

“It’s almost two weeks of craziness,” kennel manager Cherish Danworth said.

Every cage at the kennel will have a tenant.

“I’ve never seen a year it’s not booked, and we have people on the waiting list as well,” Danworth said.

Graced is one of nearly 1,200 licensed kennels in Georgia. We compared the Department of Ag’s list of licensed kennels with the names of local kennels we found.

MOBILE USERS: Click here to view a map of licensed kennels in Georgia.

At least half a dozen of those are operating illegally in the area.

The state can't hold a facility to health and sanitary standards unless it knows it exists. Illegal kennels often fly under the radar. Danworth would never trust her own fur babies with an illegal kennel. As a manager herself, she expects the highest standard of care.

“Six times a year we get inspected, and we don’t get a date,” Danworth said. “They just show up.”

State regulation also requires kennels to keep records and sterilize each cage every day.

“This is a professional job like anybody else’s,” Danworth said. “This is what we do professionally. We know what we are doing. We know what we are doing with multiple animals, and that is something that takes a lot of training.”

But it takes a lot more than just training – it takes a lot of heart.

CLARIFICATION

WRDW wishes to clarify that A Pet’s Life kennel is licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Any implication otherwise from the story or video above is unintended.