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Area counties require license for people boarding dogs through apps

Posted at 5:49 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 18:21:52-05

CARROLL CO. MD — “It could happen to anyone but I never in my wildest dreams thought it would happen to me,” said Brittany Grimm.

While in the care of a rover sitter, Grimm’s dog Myah and another dog boarded at the home got into a fight while they were left unattended. The other dog was fine but Myah’s injuries were so severe she had to be put down.

“I felt like I lost a part of me,” said Grimm.

MORE: Dog dies on Thanksgiving while in care of Carroll Co. 'Rover' sitter

Carroll County Animal Control determined the sitter did not have the required license because he had four dogs at his home. The sitter told officers he didn’t know he needed one.

As part of Rover’s terms of service, which all used must agree to, sitters certify that they will comply with all laws and regulations applicable and Rover recommends pet owners ask about compliance at the time of meet and greets. Grimm doesn’t know how this sitter was able to operate but it’s a question she wishes she knew to ask. Now she hopes her story prevents others from coming home to their dogs’ ashes.

“It’s not just this one sitter. There’s so many others out there that don’t know these things either,” said Grimm.

According to Carroll County official, if you are boarding more than three dogs, you have to get zoning approval after a hearing before the board of zoning appeals.

Once approved, Karen Baker, executive director of the Humane Society of Carroll County, said their animal control officers inspect the property on a yearly basis.

“They check just to make sure that things are safe, that they are in compliance with the Carroll County laws and that everybody is healthy, everyone is up to date on a rabies vaccine. Once that's done, we reissue the certificate for the year and they pay the annual fee,” said Baker.

In Baltimore City, there’s a similar annual inspection but it applies to any facility accepting money to board animals. Those facilities need a license applied for through animal control.

Baker said while it’s important to make sure the sitter has the correct license for the county, that still doesn’t guarantee it’s safe.

“Things change within the period of a year so you should always thoroughly inspect any property you leave your animal with,” said Baker.

She said it’s on the user to really do the background work. She recommends meeting the sitter, visiting the home, getting references and checking on training and licensing.

“You should treat anything like that as a dating app. They might show up and may not be the person they claim to be online and you have to keep that in mind,” said Baker.

There is also a kennel license required in Harford County through the zoning department. Fees are based on how many dogs will be boarded, from 6 to over 25.

In Baltimore County, holding facilities, like commercial kennels, are required to have a license, applied for annually through the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections.

Rover said in a statement, "Because sitters operate as independent businesses, they set their own boundaries for size, type, and the number of pets under their care. Our platform allows owners to search for sitters who care for one pet at a time or care for multiple animals, depending on the desires of individual owners for their pets. We also encourage owners and sitters to discuss all details of the stay, including other pets who may be on the premises."