Boarding center in Hutto is "Disney World" for dogs

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by ANDREW CHUNG and PHOTOJOURNALIST CHRIS SHADROCK/KVUE NEWS

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kvue.com

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 7:26 AM

Hutto -- From the swimming pool, to the obstacle course, to the grooming salon, the Starmark Animal Behavior Center in Hutto is more than just a boarding kennel.

Starting with just six kennels in Tucson, Arizona back in 1994, the center expanded to Hutto in 1997 and now attracts business from around the world.

It's not your typical boarding center with small kennels.

Instead, it's more like Disney for dogs.

"If someone's going to be going on a cruise, or going on an extended vacation, sometimes they feel guilty about leaving their pets behind. We create so many activities here for them; the dogs are not gonna get bored, they're gonna have a great time," said Keith Benson, the center's president and chief operating officer.

This climate-controlled boarding facility can house more than 200 dogs at a time and has some new additions that cater to the dogs, such as the obstacle course and the grooming salon.

This center doesn't just offer dogs a place to relax while their owners are on vacation, it's also a place where people can become dog trainers.

"It's approximately eight weeks to become a professional dog trainer, and then we have an additional for the specialized training - search and rescue, scent detection, and then some of the more specialized areas of training," said operations manager Jay Wilton.

Benson says the services the center offers bring lots of benefits. "It makes the pet a better member of the family, and it increases the communication between people and their pets, and that helps us to keep dogs happy in their homes and out of shelters and that's what we're really all about."

It's a place for dogs to unwind or to realize their true canine spirit.

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