Moving Your Pet to Atlanta
Tips For Helping Your Four-Legged Friend Find Their Way
By Susan Flowers, Deb North and Jackson Reeves
Moving to a new city involves making a variety of decisions: findingthe right neighborhood, home and schools and seeking new doctors, dentists and other essential services. If you’re a pet owner, similar tasks loom when it comes to care for your furry family members. Fortunately, Atlanta has plenty to offer in terms of pet services and many ways for you and your furry friend to enjoy your new city together.
For routine care or treatment of serious illnesses, choosing the right veterinarian for your pet is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Dr. Michael Smith of Beaver Crossing Animal Hospital in Lilburn suggests that you start with personal referrals. “Ask a neighbor who not only has a dog but takes good care of it,” he says.
Once you’ve settled on a potential provider or two, schedule a visit to determine your and your pet’s rapport with the staff. “Are they greeting and meeting you properly?” Smith asks. “Is the vet willing to meet with you? Most of the time, it’s better to meet with the pet’s healthcare provider, during the exam particularly.”
During your visit, take note of the facility’s cleanliness and make sure it meets your needs. “Every practice doesn’t offer the same things,” Smith says. “Do they have their own X-ray machine? Also, some pet owners might require boarding, grooming, bathing, dentistry and surgery or hospitalization.”
To help start your search, the American Animal Hospital Association (aaha.org) provides a listing of accredited veterinary hospitals, and the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association (gvma.net) also has a “Find a Vet” application. Once you’ve made your choice, be sure to get your pet an overall check-up with up-to-date vaccinations.
OUR PICKS: Ansley Animal Clinic (ansleyanimalclinic.com), Beaver Crossing Animal Hospital (beavercrossing.com), Briarcliff Animal Clinic (briarcliffanimal.com), Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital (peachtreehillsvet.com), Treehouse Animal Clinic (treehouseanimalclinic.com), Trusted Friend Animal Clinic (trustedfriend vet.com), Animal Hospital of Dunwoody Village (ahdunwoodyvillage.com), The Village Vets (thevillagevets.com).
Once you’ve found a vet, you’ve also found a possible source for pet trainer recommendations. Certified Master Trainer Ashleigh Kinsley suggests asking friends and searching online for trainers with positive reviews. “It’s important to find a reputable, experienced trainer with good references,” says Kinsley. “They should be experienced with your breed of dog, friendly and not condemn other trainers for their methods. There’s more than one way to an end result.” Always ask about a trainer’s experience, accreditation and certifications, as well as about any sort of guarantee and if training involves the owner. If you’re trying to address behavior problems, you may wish to avoid group classes. If the trainer has a facility, he or she should be willing to let you see it.
Grooming & Pet Spas
For services that may require you to leave your pet behind, asking the right questions is even more important: Your pet can’t tell you about the experience they had while out of your sight.
Aside from inquiring about a groomer’s experience and certification, “probably the most important thing is to ask how many dogs they do 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 per day or to 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 noisy and stressful environment for your dog.
Daycare & Boarding
Doggie daycare can be a great way to socialize your dog and make sure he or she gets enough exercise while you’re at work. Again, it pays to know what to look for ahead of time. Kelly Marine, owner of Alpharetta’s The Barker Lounge, which offers daycare, boarding, grooming and training. “Ask around to neighbors and co-workers. First-hand experience is often the best information.”
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 15 animals, although a 1:10 ratio is preferred for more active dogs. Generally, dogs should be separated by size, age and activity level: for instance, a small adult dog and a new puppy should probably be separated based on their differing levels of play. Treat the screening process much as you would when selecting a daycare center 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?
In terms of cost, free-run facilities are more expensive than those that confine dogs to a kennel, and canine daycares are more expensive than a vet, who typically kennels the dog with handlers providing walks throughout the day.
OUR PICKS: The Barker Lounge (thebarkerlounge.com), Bark ATL (barkatl.com), Barking Hound Village (barkinghoundvillage.com), Central Bark (centralbarkatlanta.com), Dog Days (dogdaysatlanta.com), Must Love Dogs (mustlovedogsga.com), PawPlex (thepawplex.com), Piedmont Bark (piedmontbark.com), Puppy Haven (puppyhavenatl.com), Wag-A-Lot (wagalot.com).
All major parks and many Atlanta attractions welcome leashed pets, so together, you might explore Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, hike the trails at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and cool off in the fountains at Centennial Olympic Park. Piedmont Park’s Dog Parks are among the few areas in town where dogs may run free. Also, many restaurants have pet-friendly outdoor patios where you and your pet can people-watch.
OUR PICKS: Anis Bistro (anisbistro.com), Diesel (dieselatlanta.com), Lucky’s Burgers and Brew (luckysburgerandbrew.com), Marietta Pizza Co. (mariettapizza.com), Southern Bistro (south ernbistroatl.com), Le Petit Marche (lepetitmarche.net), Piedmont Dog Parks (piedmontpark.org), Park Tavern (parktavern.com).
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.org.
• 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.
• Georgia Network of Professional Pet Sitters consists of over 65 individually owned pet care companies. The website gapetsitters.com allows you to search for pet sitters by zip code or by city/town.