Since its opening on Fort Belvoir July 17, Patriot Pet Care has already established a reputation among the pooches on post as the spot to relax and play. Maybe it is because of the enthusiasm and joy that the staff shares with each pet that comes in the door.

“I’m not a morning person, but ever since I’ve had this job, I’m willing wake up early so I could see the babies as soon as I get here,” said Carmille Escarda, one of two animal caretakers at Patriot Pet Care.

“We have a lot of boarding dogs, and they’re here in a strange place, alone, and they can get scared, so that’s why I try to get here as soon as I can so they can see me and go out and play.”

Escarda breaks into a beaming smile when she starts talking about dogs, and what a wonderful job she has. She understands the deep bonds between owners and pets, and feels it as well.

“Most of the owners that come here don’t see them as pets, they see them as families, or kids, in a way. When I take them in, I treat them as my own as well. I have a dog and I know the love there is, so we see them as family and friends,” Escarda said.

Whether it’s a daycare drop-off, or a longer-term boarding arrangement, Patriot can handle the installation’s needs, with 48 boarding rooms offering outdoor access, and a separate outdoor play area.

There are 30 cat condos are tucked away from the noise of the kennel, with a couple of cat towers – one next to a large window.

Katie Boyette, Patriot’s business manager, comes to Fort Belvoir with her entire career in the animal industry. She has a degree in Equine Administration, and has been a dog trainer since 2007. She said making things better for animals and families is Patriot’s goal.

“I love that it’s brand new and we get an opportunity help people with their pets. That’s one of my passions in life – and why I do the training,” said Boyette. “A lot of animals are given up to a shelter or re-homed because of training problems, or because people want to go out of town more, and don’t have a place for them to go. I want to eliminate those problems for people, so that it’s easier for them to keep their pets.”

Boyette said daycare is becoming quite popular, especially for families with energetic dogs.

“A lot of people have high-energy dogs and they want them to be able to run and play throughout the day instead of sitting at home and waiting for them. It’s important for higher-energy dogs to have an outlet for that energy.”

Boyette hopes to add a full-time dog groomer to the team, but until then, she offers full-service grooming and bathing several times a week, by appointment.

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Patriot Pet Care is at 5975 Warren Road, and you can call them 703-805-1102.