Geneticist Dr. Michael Bleyman founded Carolina Tiger Rescue in the 1970s as a breeding sanctuary for large carnivores whose habitats had become unsafe. Its original intent was to protect wild species that were crucial to the survival of particular ecosystems, sustaining the populations until their home habitats were protected enough to support them without risk. Today, the organization protects wild cats in captivity and in nature by providing homes for abandoned or neglected cats, raising awareness about the threats to these animals, and assisting with conservation efforts in rainforests and wild habitats. Carolina Tiger Rescue currently houses more than 70 carnivores, including tigers, black leopards, ocelots, caracals, servals, and kinkajous. Many of the facility's residents have been rescued from dangerous situations in urban spaces and private breeding facilities. Now they have a lifelong home in re-created natural habitats.
Brier Creek Pet Hotel proprietor Lisa Sarvas is a veterinarian who also breeds and shows dogs. The pet hotel—which offers both daycare and boarding—is an extension of her love for animals.
Daycare charges enjoy several indoor or outdoor play periods, either in groups or one-on-one with staff members. Overnight guests bunk down in private suites with access to a covered outdoor run; upgrades include elevated beds, televisions, and exclusive exercise space. There's also a groomer on staff to make sure dogs look their best for any upcoming dates with fire hydrants.
Training riders and horses is a family affair at Chapel Ridge Farm, where members of the Bennett family draw from more than 75 years of combined equestrian boarding, training, showing, and sales experience. Owner and head trainer Meagan Bennett takes the reins of each riding class, teaching students how to improve their horsemanship, from basic horse care to fine-tuning their jumping skills for AA competitions. While Meagan is out with students, her mother and one-time state equestrian team coach, Linda Bennett, handles day-to-day operations at the farm. Tom Bennett, Meagan’s father, also helps out and is often available to help transport horses between Chapel Ridge Farm and other equestrian centers to save steeds the aggravation of hitchhiking without thumbs.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Wake County was originally founded in 1969 to transform the region into a humane area where every animal could find a home. Today, it works toward this goal by sheltering and securing the adoption of more than 3,000 animals every year and providing lost-and-found services for missing pets. The organization also supports pet owners with classes to help them care for their animals and addresses the problem of overpopulation through catch-and-release spay or neuter programs.
Paws At Play supports pet owners with a variety of services from doggie daycare and cat boarding to pet grooming. During doggie daycare, pets get access to an indoor play gym, multiple outdoor play yards, and a dog pool. Overnight boarders can take advantage of these amenities before hunkering down in one of 38 private suites, which feature a window, adjustable feeding bowls, and raised bedding. The facility also boasts 18 private cat suites where felines can bask in natural sunlight and sway to the sounds of classical music. Separate ventilation systems prevent the smell of canine boarders from stressing out visiting cats.
Camp Bow Wow’s canine counselors—all rigorously trained in pup health care and behavior—lavish pooches with attention and stimulation while their owners are away at work or on trips. Before being left for daycare or boarding, a dog and owner will first attend a three-hour meet and greet at any time during Camp Bow Wow's normal business hours, during which new recruits can be monitored for their play behavior, sociability, and celebrity likeness. Then, under staffers’ watchful gazes, pups can frolic all day in three spacious indoor-outdoor play areas in which they are grouped by temperament and size to prevent unfair matches of Trivial Pursuit. Dogs staying overnight receive a treat before bedding down in their own spacious cabin, equipped with a fleece blanket and comfortable bed. Feel free to peep at four-legged companions at leisure with live camper cams, which broadcast feeds of Camp Bow Wow's play rooms spliced with breaking news of royal pet weddings.