Life at BYK (Our Blog)

New Trainer!!

BYK welcomed a new trainer in June 2015:  Mr. Mike Sperry. We are so lucky to have him with us!! Mike has more than 15 years experience as a dog trainer, and while he has experience with training of all types, dog aggression is his favorite problem to help solve. His approach to dog training is that of balance --, using positive reinforcement and when necessary, correction.

His first set of classes has already begun -- Basic Obedience classes are held at BYK every Monday evening, beginning at 6:30pm. He also offers private classes, either at BYK or in your home. "Board 'n Train" is also available -- we have 2-, 4-, 6, and 8-week sessions, depending on your needs, and those of your dogs. In a Board 'n Train session, your dog boards at BYK, and is trained by Mike multiple times each day. BYK's Kennel Techs ensure your dog is properly fed, and receives any necessary medications, which you must provide. Then, beginning in August, Mike will add classes in "Tricks" and "Agility," as well, on Wednesday and Thursday nights -- please stay tuned for more information as things develop.

In addition to training at BYK, Mike is also in charge of training our staff on safe handling of dogs, and on how to help them more safely engage in group play (Dog Day Care). We have challenged Mike to train our staff to handle day care dogs well enough to get our day care staff ready to participate in the "Daycare Games," a competition between off-leash dog play attendants and pet centers nationwide, held each February, to encourage a structured-play setting, and to demonstrate leadership skills that make off-leash dog play groups safe and fun. For more information on the Daycare Games, visit www.DogGurus.com.

Because Mike has owned his own small business in the past, he understands the challenges we face daily here at BYK. His input with respect to all aspects of our business has thus far been invaluable. We look forward to a long relationship with Mike.

Please join us in welcoming Mike to Brickyard Kennel!!

Margie W.

Owner, General Manager

Brickyard Kennel

Possible legislation affecting pet owners

As a general rule, BYK does not involve itself in political issues. We avoid them like the plague. Our customers come from all walks of life; all political affiliations; all income levels. Anytime politics are brought into such a relationship, feelings can be hurt; customers or employees can be alienated or offended. Nevertheless, this issue affects ALL of you, regardless with which end of the political spectrum you identify. In this particular instance, BYK Management cannot and will not sit idly by and watch while some anonymous "Board of Directors" sits in a room making decisions that will force BYK's loyal customers and friends to spend large amounts of money, unnecessarily.

DOPL, Utah's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, polices certain professions, such as the Practice of Veterinary Medicine; Practice of Nursing Medicine; Pharmacy Practice; Contractors; Realtors; etc.  Recently, I was informed by a DOPL investigator that the Board of Veterinary Medicine is considering making it illegal for any Boarding Facility to give your pets ANY medications, whether prescribed by a veterinarian, purchased over-the-counter, or otherwise -- even if you bring in a prescription bottle with instructions from your vet. DOPL believes that to allow a Boarding facility to give your dogs pills or insulin, or any substance other than food, constitutes the "practice of veterinary medicine," regardless of the fact that you do it at home, every day. This means if your dog is on Rimadyl twice per day, or insulin, or even if your cat or dog takes an over-the-counter antihistamine for allegies, this new legislation could potentially require that your pets be boarded with a veterinarian for no other reason than to ensure medications are monitored by a doctor or her staff.  This means you would pay, on average, an extra $10 or more per day, for the privilege of the vet's staff putting a pill in your dog's mouth. This potential legislation may also prevent any animal owner from stopping by the Target, Smith's, or Walmart pharmacies to purchase over-the-counter vaccines for your pets!!  Farmers and Ranchers  -- this concerns you, too -- they would like to prevent you from going to IFA Country Store and buying vaccinations for your livestock, even though those vaccinations are over-the-counter and available by retail to the general public.

Pets are medicated by their owners every single day. When an owner cannot be present to care for their pet, they should be able to bring their pet to a boarding facility who can act on the owner's behalf. That is what you pay us for -- to act as a substitute pet owner. We don't claim to be a medical facility. We don't keep "medical records" in the same way your veterinarian does. We don't do physcial exams. We don't recommend any particular course of treatment, beyond simply keeping an eye on your pet, or consulting a veterinarian. In fact, our contracts, our facilities policies and procedures -- they all state that we are NOT a medical facility, and if your pet needs close monitoring or is of delicate health, we recommend that you board your pet at a veterinary hospital. Often, even when a pet is elderly and/or in ill health, customers still choose to leave their animals with us for a variety of reasons, including because their pets know and trust us, and/or because we know the pets and owners well enough to know what steps they want us to take in an emergency, or because they know that we love their pets like family, and in the twilight of their pet's life, they would prefer the pet be with "family," than with a doctor.

Understand that BYK does employ trained, educated staff -- people who have attended and/or graduated from Veterinary Assisting and Veterinary Technology programs. These staff, however, do not and cannot hold licenses issued by the State of Utah because they do not work for a veterinarian. Nonetheless, this does not discount their education and experience. Do they practice veterinary medicine? Of course not. If, heaven forbid, an animal becomes ill or is injured, BYK takes the animal to the veterinary hospital next door for evaluation and treatment.

That said, BYK provides to your pet the same level of care that you provide at home, regardless of what that entails. In doing so, we cannot help but use our experience as pet care providers, and yes, sometimes even our education when we ask ourselves "what would this animal's owner do [in whatever situation] if they were here to care for this animal"?  Does it help that we have educated, trained staff?  Yes. Absolutely. But to hear DOPL tell it, if I allow my staff to use their education and training when caring for the animals, they will be practicing veterinary medicine without a license -- even if all they do is put "styptic powder" to stop the bleeding on a toenail cut a bit too short. So, the question is, when my staff injects a dog with insulin -- in the amount and frequency prescribed by the veterinarian and the animal's owner -- are we "overstepping"?  I think not. If you left your dog with a neighbor, your neighbor would be doing the same thing, but without education, and maybe without experience. Your neighbor is acting as your "agent" for the purpose of caring for your dog -- she is simply doing what you asked her to do -- care for your dog in accordance with your instructions and wishes. Just because we have educated, trained staff, does that make a difference in how these tasks should be characterized?  Who knows? DOPL says "Yes."  But, IF it truly makes a difference, I can't help but believe it is for the better.

In the past, BYK's kennel techs have used their education and training to recognize problems even before the owner recognized it. I can recall witnessing behavior in a cat that had just been brought in -- I'd seen the identical behavior in a cat of my own, in the past. It was not typical behavior, and when the parents came to pick the cat up, we informed them we believed their cat may be ill, and should be seen by a veterinarian.  Were they angry that we saw something they had not?  Are you kidding?  They were grateful we'd caught it when we did -- they saw the same behaviors, but had no idea they could be a sign of a serious condition.  Should we have kept our mouths shut, because our techs are not "licensed" or because we are afraid we might accidentally be accused of "practicing veterinary medicine without a license."? If DOPL knew of this incident when it occurred, they would probably scold us for it.  Certainly, BYK's kennel techs cannot and never do "diagnose," "prescribe," "treat" or run tests, or anything of that nature, but they can observe as well or better than "the next guy." Is that a problem?  Shouldn't be. After all, it is not as if they can "unlearn" how to properly care for an animal; "unlearn" how to look at the color of dog poop and the potential ramifications of that color or texture; "unlearn" the difference between vomitted bile and vomitted food or vomited water; or "unlearn" anything else they learned in school -- anymore than you could "unlearn" how to read or write. Would BYK prefer to keep veterinarians on staff so we don't have to address issues such as these?  Absolutely.  However, the reality is that it is close-to-impossible to find a veterinarian willing to do spend a few hours each week simply walking through a kennel, looking for general or specific illness or injury in an animal, and even if we could, it would most certainly be expensive for you, the owner. Were this the actual statutory requirement (and to be clear, it currently is not), BYK would have no choice but to raise boarding rates to properly compensate the veterinarian. Were that the case, the owner might just as well board their pet with a veterinarian -- except veterinarians are not generally open on Sundays; nor do they provide day care for any sustained period, so dogs could not run free or relax for long hours in the fresh air.

When an amimal falls ill or is injured, BYK contacts the animal's owner and obtains guidance regarding whether to take the animal to the vet for evaluation, whether the owners want us to wait and keep them updated, or whether the owner wants us to do nothing. After all, every owner's situation is different. Vet bills can be very costly, and each owner should be given the opportunity whenever possible to make those decisions themselves, because when we take an animal to the vet, the pet owner is responsible for those vet bills. BYK does not wish to spend our customer's money "willy nilly," or without permission. Certainly there are situations where we are unable to contact an owner or their emergency contact. When this happens, we are left to our own reasonable judgment regarding whether there is a situation rising to the level of a "medical emergency" such that we see no alternative but to take the animal to a veterinary hospital, pay for it ourselves, and seek reimbursement from the customer when they pay their final invoice and retrieve their pet. That's our job.

As it stands, among the many exemptions from Utah's law prohibiting "the practice of veterinary medicine," is the pet owner exemption -- it allows pet owners, their employees, and their "agents" to care for their own animals. It also currently allows prescription medications to be given by these exempted people if a veterinarian prescribes the meds by way of a veterinarian-client relationship. THAT is what allows BYK to give prescription and other medications to your pets during their stay. But if the Board of Veterinary Medicine has its druthers . . . it will not be allowed much longer. (Currently, non-prescription medications are not prohibited by law, and thus do not need to be "exempted" under the statute, but I am told this may be addressed by new legislation, as well. Note that BYK is also exempt from much of this statute because we "provide appropriate training for animals," which is another category of persons exempted by the statute.)

Here's what it boils down to: Your pets. Your choice. You have a say in what happens, here, folks.  If this means as much to you as we believe it does, we encourage you to submit sworn affidavits to Investigator, Ron Larsen, at Utah's Division of Professional Licensing, as well as to the Utah Board of Veterinary Medicine -- give them your opinion of the legislation they are looking to draft. Let them know the impact such a law would have on you, on your pocket book, on your relationship with your pet, and maybe even on the relationship you currently share with your veterinarian.  Would you resent the higher fees you would be forced by the Board of Veterinary Medicine to pay? Would you simply stop going to the added expense?  Would you simply tell your boarding facility not to medicate your pet during its stay, so you don't have to pay for a veterinarian? How much of this potential legislation is driven by a Board of Veterinary Medicine looking for new avenues of revenue generation? There are many issues that might arise if pet parents are forcibly placed in such a position. We are individuals. We will all react differently. Some reactions may be extreme; some only minor. But it is crucial that the "powers that be" understand how you, as concerned pet owners, feel about this. 

Please . . . get involved. Don't let this decision be made in a vaccum. These Boards go largely unmonitored. Few, if any, attend their meetings, or even know when they will be held. You can find the current statutes and rules, meeting agenda, meeting minutes, and even the audio recordings of past meetings online, at http://www.dopl.utah.gov/licensing/veterinary.html.

It is crucial that every one of us helps to ensure that whatever the ultimate decision, it is one arrived at after careful consideration, and after hearing opinions and concerns from as many segments of our society, as possible. Please give me your thoughts on this.

Margie Wakeham, Esq.

Owner/General Manager, Brickyard Kennel

Internet Rumors??

I found a post online stating that we "threaten to sue for bad reviews."  This is patently false. A customer sent me a message accusing me of leaving dogs in kennels for 20 hours at a time & threatened to post that information all over the internet. She stated that she felt she didn't get her "money's worth" & essentially threatened to post this false information unless I refunded her money. I clearly informed her that those claims were absolutely untrue, & that we have Day Care video to prove that, if need be. Moreover, I reminded her that now that she has been officially informed that a post with that information would be completely false, if she continued to post it anyway (i.e., that we leave dogs in kennels for 20 hours) & claim that it's true, we do indeed have a legal right to sue her for intentionally & publicly defaming my business & interfering with my right to run my business & form business relations. I also told her she is more than welcome to leave a bad review about us -- as long as she only posted her "opnion." To intentionally post completey false information & claim they are true & factual?? That is a whole 'nother story, because it is an intentional, and malicious attempt to ruin my business JUST TO OBTAIN A REFUND??  Yes, I told her that I had a legal remedy against ANYONE who lied about my business, published those lies & represented they were true, especially if those lies were intended to, and did, hurt my business. Any business owner would do the same!!  HOWEVER, I DO NOT & NEVER HAVE THREATENED TO SUE FOR BAD REVIEWS (OPINIONS). For Pete's sake . . .  I can live with a bad review -- I can't please everyone, all the time. BUT LIES?? Those are a serious problem, especially considering that our policy is that NO DOG is EVER to be left in a kennel or run all day.

This customer, by the way, left her 2 dogs at BYK for 23-1/2 hours. She paid us to Board them, that's all. BUT . . . we put them in Day Care because it is good for her dogs, and because we believe kenneling them for long periods is unhealthy. So, not only did her dogs receive well over 5 hours of FREE day care during their stay (1.25 hrs on Friday, since they checked in late in the day -- 3:20pm) and 4-1/2 hours on Saturday (they checked the dogs out before day care ended on Saturday), but they also received potty walks at the beginning & end of the day (we don't charge for those, either). I actually gave this customer an almost minute-by-minute description of where her dogs were, at what time, how they behaved, when they were fed, when they slept, when they pooped, etc. Apparently, this customer wanted more for her $25. We do NOT charge for Day Care while dogs are boarding with us -- it's FREE!!  We are not required to provide Day Care, but we do it anyway. Yes, on weekends we have shorter hours than on weekdays -- we post that information EVERYWHERE. If she believed she was getting 10 hours per day of day care, that is truly unfortunate -- we have never represented to our customers that we provide that much day care. Our day care runs from 9am to 4:15pm on weekdays (sometimes a little later). Day Care is 9am-3pm on Saturdays and 10am-2pm on Sundays. I pay at least 3 people per day to play with dogs -- the customers don't pay me a penny, unless they drop their dogs off for "drop-in day care."  On weekends, we only charge "drop in" customers for 1/2 day of day care.

The customer who made these threats was upset because when she signed on to look at our day care cameras, here dogs were not within the view of whatever camera she was watching. (She actually claimed to have been watching ALL of them, at the same time. However, that is impossible, since I have it set up so that customers can NOT watch all cameras under a single log-in -- this is why I know for a fact that she is not being truthful. This is also why she had nothing to say in response when I pointed that fact out to her.) My manager moved the dogs in front of the camera, so the customer could see them, but could only get them to stay in one place for 8 minutes (hence, she accused us of giving them 8 minutes of day care!!). After 8 minutes, the dogs chose (on their own) to run off to another play area. So, based on this "perceived injustice," the customer claimed we "cheated" her (out of Day Care that she didn't pay for in the first place). I pointed out to her that we have 6 play areas for dogs. Only 4 of those areas are monitored by cameras. Even in the 4 camera-equipped areas, dogs cannot always be where a camera is pointed. She's never going to be able to watch the other 2 areas on camera -- especially if she continues to try to ruin my business (I'll never be able to afford to buy the extra cameras).

In a nutshell, I work SO hard to ensure all dogs are treated well here, no matter how long their stay with us is going to be. I am constantly striving to ensure that the animals' parents are also as satisfied as they can be. But this experience -- Honestly, I have NEVER been so upset & offended by anyone in my life, as I was when this person threatened to ruin my business if I did not give her a refund. Could I have avoided all of this by giving this customer her money back? YES!!  And when BYK makes a mistake, & a customer does not get what they pay for, I offer a refund or a partial credit, immediately. Nevertheless, that is not what happened here. The customer paid the very minimum amount of money for her dogs' stay -- she paid for no frills; no off-the-floor beds; no purified water; no groom or bath. Nothing "extra" whatsoever. She wanted only the very least we offered. That said, we gave her day care, anyway.

The amount we charge each boarding customer for a single night's stay is not sufficient to make us a profit -- we make a small amount of money only when an animal is with us for more than 3 days, and when we have at least 30 dogs boarding with us at one time. Otherwise, we don't even cover payroll. I can't give a refund to customers when they already received MORE than what they paid for??  No business can sustain itself that way.  If I gave that customer a refund, then I am in essence paying her to give me a good review!!  That's just as bad as threatening to give me a bad review if I don't give her money!!  It's wrong. I won't do it. I have far more integrity than that. 

My employees, many of whom are single parents, rely on their BYK wages to support their families. I cannot pay them if someone intentionally tries to ruin my business because of some "perceived injustice," or even when they only "threaten" to ruin my business if I refuse them a refund. This customer is welcome to post a bad review on the internet (for what, I cannot imagine); she is, in the alternative, welcome back to BYK any time, but she is NEVER welcome to publish lies about BYK. Shame on her for even threatening to do so. I feel quite badly for her, & for whatever it was in her life that caused her to get to the point where she thinks this is acceptable human behavior.  .

-MW

Super Service Award Winner

SALT LAKE CITY kennels

Congratulations to staff and management at Brickyard Kennel for receiving the Super Service Award from Angie's List, for providing Super Service to its kennel customers!!  Thanks to everyone who contributed to this win by leaving great Reviews on Angie's List. Our Angie's List promotion is ongoing, so continue posting your Angie's List Reviews to receive awesome BYK Discounts!!

Thanks,

Margie & Jon Wakeham, Owners