FORT LEWIS, Wash. (April 25, 2008) - Dogs and cats have a new place to call their own on Fort Lewis: The Pet Brigade Dog and Cat Barracks.
The new facility opened its doors last week to the post community and took in its first four-legged clients. The barracks, Building 04907 on Pendleton Drive, North Fort; offers services like doggie day care, boarding, grooming and, in the future, training.
The Pet Brigade is a public-private venture, a new way of providing services to military folks -- the land belongs to the Army, but the facility is privately owned by Nancy and Regis Jackson, who have owned and operated for five years Pet Ponderosa Resorts and Spas in Graham.
"This is the first pet kennel PPV to date in the Army," said Scott Ballentine, an engineering tech in the Non-Appropriated Funds Resource Department of Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. "We're sort of ground-breakers."
The PPV initiative is designed to help the military offer services that it would not normally offer by allowing it to contract with civilian experts - in this case, the Jacksons.
"We are utilizing individuals trained and motivated to offer services that we have no experience with," he said. "It's a win-win as it relates to providing service to the family community."
The Pet Brigade, set back in a wooded area of North Fort, features 60 kennels and can accommodate as many as 180 dogs at one time, because many families have more than one dog, said Regis Jackson. "The kennels are large enough that they can accommodate at least two to three dogs in a kennel," he said.
The kennels are state-of-the-art, stainless steel enclosures with drainage systems and a heating and cooling system that keeps pooches at a comfortable 58 to 60 degrees with a 90 percent fresh air exchange.
Outside, the yard is divided into larger and smaller fenced areas where the dogs can play together or individually. While pups are staying at the Pet Brigade, parents can choose from various activities for their canines, like individual play time, walks, pool time or cuddle time.
Cats will be boarded in a community cat room in which the animals will have their own condos. The barracks can accommodate about 10 to 14 cats at a time.
Doggie Day Care is available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dogs must be assessed before being admitted into the day care program, Jackson said.
To be in the program, the dog must have all its shots and a recent stool sample test from a veterinarian. Once accepted, the owners are required to buy a minimum four-day pass, and the dog must come to doggie day care at least once a week to get the full benefit of the program.
"The whole purpose of day care is to socialize your dog," Jackson said. "If you only bring your dog once every four weeks, it defeats the purpose of socialization."
The barracks also offers grooming services which include baths, hair and nail cuts, ear cleaning and brushing.
Pets must have all their shots before coming to The Pet Brigade and parents must provide documentation.
For more information on The Pet Brigade, call 912-4898.

Rachel Young: