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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities: Residents of Aachen Abandon Cats and Dogs to Go on Vacation as Luxury Pet Hotel Opens in Philadelphia

Summer vacations are far more important to Europeans than they are to Americans. Being more cultured and considerably less money-crazy, they realize that there is more to life than slaving away all the time for some sleazy, shekel-counting popinjay in a three-piece suit. More importantly, they customarily receive up to a month off from work as compared to a measly two weeks for most Americans.

Increased leisure time should not be accompanied by a corresponding decrease in moral responsibility and this is especially true where companion animals are concerned. Unfortunately, this is not a lesson that some pet owners in Europe and elsewhere have ever bothered to learn.

Instead of using their long vacations to spend additional time with their often neglected cats and dogs, many Europeans are instead abandoning their faithful four-footed companions so that they can go en vacance unencumbered.

Zum Beispiel, the animal shelter in the German city of Aachen recently reported that a record number of cats, dogs, and small animals had been dumped on its doorstep this summer by individuals either too selfish to take them along with them en vacance or too cheap to board them. Worst still, the Aachener Zeitung reported on July 17th that some uncaring pet owners were "dass Bello oder Mieze einfach am nachsten Laternenpfahl angebunden." Fortunately for them, Katerchen Anton and Hundedame Aki (See photo above) have been spared both of those cruel fates because they have a good home.

There are, of course, many options other than abandoning a pet. For instance, there a number of kennels in the Aachen area that board cats and dogs although space is limited and there are long waiting lists. A Katzenpension run by Helga Creutz in nearby Wuerselen can accommodate up to thirty-five cats but reservations need to be made at least four months in advance. The facility also requires that all of its inmates be desexed and vaccinated.

Much the same is true for the Hundepension Huenschemeyer in Baesweiler. It is fully booked for the summer and has a three-month waiting list.

The dearth of kennel space is not, however, a valid reason for dumping pets at shelters to be exterminated. This is especially the case since there are numerous pet sitters available; in fact, hiring a pet sitter is far preferable to boarding a cat or dog.

Kennels as a rule are rife with all sorts of disease but hiring a pet sitter eliminates this worry because pets never leave the sanitary confines of their homes. Perhaps even more importantly, this arrangement is considerably less psychologically stressful for them because it gives them reason to believe that their owners will return home soon.

Pet sitters are also able to give each animal individual attention. Most of them not only feed and water their charges, but they additionally spend time with them each day. At kennels, however, it is rare that cats and dogs ever receive very much in the way of individual attention.

Of course, there are more elaborate alternatives available when it comes to foster pet care. Earlier this year, Jenee and A.J. Mazzu opened Philadelphia's first luxury hotel for pets. Located along with the riverfront in the Old City, Mazzu's Canine and Feline Hotel provides a place for cats and dogs with a taste for haute couture to hang out while their owners are out of town.

In addition to two squares a day and all the water that they can drink, cats and dogs are housed in carpeted rooms that feature comfortable beds with colorful bedding and televisions equipped with DVD players. (See photo on the right of a doggie suite.) As is the case with Katzenpensionen and Hundepensionen in Aachen, space is extremely limited and in more than one way.

For starters, the hotel can accommodate only seven dogs and five cats at a time and the rooms are rather small. The feline suites, for example, consist of little more than cabinet space.

Compounding matters further is the petit fait that with rack rates starting at $155 per night for dogs and $60 for cats, this hotel is prohibitively expensive for all except the affluent.

Then there are all the extras. Add in a meal or two of either such haute cuisine staples as filet mignon or fresh salmon, an extra jaunt around the block for a dog, pickup and delivery service to and from the hotel, the administration of medications, and grooming at the hotel's spa, and the bill for a one-night stay could go as high as several hundred dollars.

Despite the cost involved, there is definitely a market for luxury pet hotels. "I know people who won't travel because they won't put their pets in a kennel," Jenee Mazzu told the Philadelphia Weekly on February 1, 2006. (See "Tails of the City.") "If my dog can feel happy, feel sad and feel scared, then she definitely has to know the difference between a very warm and cozy environment versus a kennel."

Mazzu, who hopes to open other luxury pet hotels in the future, added, "We want to deal in quality and not quantity. I've researched places that call themselves dog hotels or dog spas, and they're nicer than your normal grooming shop or boarding place, but they still haven't fully grasped it. I feel that's what we've done."

Photos: Aachener Zeitung (Anton and Aki) and Philadelphia Weekly (dog suite at Mazzu Hotel).