Dog boarders aplenty in the Jacksonville area; Pet Paradise opens in Yulee

After Jennifer Crady of Jacksonville adopted a 2-month-old boxer-whippet mix named Harper, she began researching pet boarding businesses extensively.

The fate of his other beloved dog, Savannah, a 10-year-old mixed-breed, has led Crady to demand a particularly high bar for anyone caring for his pets.

“I had already lost a pet when she should have had a routine bath at a major pet supply supplier and they left her unattended and she died,” she said. declared. “She was 10 but in excellent health. … It was devastating.

“I was a bit paranoid about having one of my pets out of my care because of this incident,” she said.

Customer Tyree Tobler drops off his pup, Luna, with receptionist Margaret Stitz at Pet Paradise near World Golf Village.

With her main boarding criteria “attention to detail, genuine care and relationship building with my pet, and communication,” she ended up choosing the Jacksonville-based company. Pet paradise. With operations in nine states, the company opened its 46th location in December in Yulee, with two more Florida locations opening in the coming months in Odessa and Lake Nona and the 50th coming later this year.

The company was ranked #1 for day camp and daycare services by Newsweek nationwide 2021 survey of the best pet care brands of 10,000 American customers. It also placed second in the grooming salon services category.

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Harper, now 6, is part of the family there.

“They … loved Harper and cared for her like she was their own,” Crady said. “They notice everything and make sure to send her home even better than I dropped her off because she got more belly rubs, wipes and playtime that makes her a satisfied girl .”

Recess Supervisor James Thompson spends time in the pool with dogs at Pet Paradise near World Golf Village.

“It’s a matter of peace of mind”

Dog boarding as business is boomingsaid Pet Paradise President and CEO Fernando Acosta-Rua. That’s why the company is expanding, looking for new sites in “high-growth areas, to be ahead of the growth curve,” he said.

“It’s stronger now than it’s ever been,” he said.

Pet adoptions surged during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result, the need for pet boarding, daycare, grooming and health care has also increased. Moreover, as the crisis subsided, an increasing number of Americans started taking leisure trips again. For travelers with dogs, leaving them in a safe and trusted place is essential.

“They’re a big part of the family… Not just a pet,” he said. “It’s a matter of peace of mind at the end of the day.”

The Jacksonville area offers many other options for pet owners who need a place to stay for their pets while their family is away on vacation – spring break is right around the corner – or who need a pet daycare.

Assistant Manager Gavin Warpmess gives guest Rocky a good scratch in one of Pet Paradise's VIP suites near World Golf Village.

Yelp, a social networking site that lets users post reviews and rate businesses, ranked among the city’s top 10 dog boarding places Free Fido, Pet Paradise College Boulevard Location, Westside location of Happy Hound Dog Resorts, Camp Bow Wow Jacksonville, Jacksonville Central Bark, Location of Happy Hound Dog Resorts in the South, bark on the park, Like at home Dog boarding, DogCity and Playhouse for puppies.

The American Kennel Club has some tips for selecting the best dog boarder.

“It’s important to find a comfortable situation for you and your dog,” according to the club. “These days, there are more options than ever to choose from when entrusting your dog to others. … Knowing the right questions to ask and the right things to look for is important in finding the right ‘home’. -be-away-from-home boarding experience for your dog.”

The club has a list of questions appropriate to

“Often the hardest part of leaving town is trusting someone else to care for your canine companion,” according to the club. “Taking the time to find a boarding option you trust and your dog enjoys will make all the difference in the end.”

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Wilson and Field

Crady and Carla Wilson, another local dog owner who has researched boarding, said an in-person visit was a must.

“As with everything, always do your research. Go visit the facilities that interest you,” Wilson said. “I would call first to see if you can schedule a visit to see the property, also ask if you can bring your pet.”

Communication between dog owner and boarder key

Once you’re there, Wilson said, check the size of the space pets stay in during daycare or boarding and the cleanliness of the facility. Observe the staff and how they interact with the pets and owners and how organized the management team is.

If your pet likes to swim, ask about water play activities, she says.

Dogs are allowed in the swimming pool at Pet Paradise near World Golf Village in St. Johns County.

Wilson’s search was for his dog Champ, a Brittany Spaniel rescue. Her husband had died of cancer, and Wilson couldn’t leave Champ at home while she went to work.

“Champ…had so much energy and all I could think about at the time was what I’m going to do,” she said.

Wilson had previously used Pet Paradise for day camp and occasional boarding for Jeter, another Brittany Spaniel, who died in 2012. She decided the business still met her criteria, so Champ, who is 11, y also goes for day camp and occasional boarding.

“If Champ could talk, he could write a book,” she said. “His experience…has been amazing. The love he gets, the tummy rubs, the scratches on his chin, the play time, the swim time, the treats, his favorite boarding house, the multiple friends he has… is done, chasing her girlfriends around the puppy pool, and the list goes on.

“Champ is so happy when we arrive…he can’t wait to get out of the car,” Wilson said.

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When Champ is at day camp, Wilson receives daily reports about his stay, who he played with, or if he ate all of his lunch. She also receives progress reports after boarding.

Such communication between pet owner and staff is also an essential part of Crady’s criteria for pet boarders.

When she first took Harper to Pet Paradise, she told the staff about Savannah. “They listened to my story and details of how I needed Harper cared for. … The staff took that to heart and never forgot it,” she said.

The best boarders will provide individualized care when needed. Harper, for example, doesn’t get along with all the other dogs.

In the Pet Paradise reception area near the World Golf Village, a large window offers a view of the pool for visiting dogs.

“His best friends are the staff members who are in the playground,” Crady said. “She has individual play time due to her incompatibility with other dogs… They ask about your dog’s personality on your first visit and they actively and safely monitor the animals in play to avoid any incident between animals that could be dangerous.

“Even though Harper doesn’t play with other dogs, she still has a lot of activity and comes home relaxed and sometimes just exhausted from all the fun,” she said. “As a customer, I received service that went above and beyond.”

[email protected], (904) 359-4109

Boarding options for dogs

For more help with selecting a dog boarder, here are some online resources:

• American Kennel Club,

• WebMD Animals,

Here is contact information for the top 10 dog boarding establishments in Jacksonville, as rated by Yelp users:

Free Fido Jacksonville

6824 S. Phillips Parkway Drive, Jacksonville, 32256; (904) 849-8007; [email protected];

Pet Paradise University Boulevard

140, boul. of W. University, Jacksonville, 32216; (904) 396-7529; [email protected]; (Pet Paradise National Site:

• Happy Hound Dog Resorts Westside

4603 Shirley Ave, Jacksonville, 32210; (904) 800-8800; [email protected];

• Camp Bow Wow Jacksonville

8505 Baymeadows Road, Jacksonville, 32256; (904) 732-9663;

• Jacksonville Central Bark

5614 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, 32207; (904) 730-1200; [email protected];

• Happy Hound Dog Resorts Southside

11000-203 Beach Boulevard Jacksonville, 32246; (904) 800-8800; [email protected];

• Bark on the park

1021 Park St., Jacksonville, 32204: (904) 356-4530;

Like at home Dog boarding

14547 Philips Highway, Jacksonville, 32256: (904) 288-0979;

• DogTown

11740 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, 32223: (904) 719-6138;

Playhouse for puppies

2113 Florida Boulevard, Neptune Beach, 32266; (904) 246-9588; [email protected];

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