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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — There’s no place like home, but base officials say they hope a new kennel for dogs and cats preparing for a permanent-change-of-station move with their owners will be the next best thing.

Big enough for 20 dogs and 14 cats, the kennel is due to open here sometime this fall. Base officials said they hope it temporarily will ease the crunch of boarding transient pets during busy PCS seasons.

The kennel is for pets of families in temporary lodging, whether they are arriving at or leaving Misawa. The facility is to replace the so-called pet suites — 1940s-era base houses converted to temporary lodging facilities for families and their pets. The eight houses are scheduled for demolition by the end of September, said A.J. Borders, Misawa Inn lodging manager.

“During the PCS season, those units have an occupancy anywhere from 87 to 98 percent and it’s pretty consistent,” Borders said.

The new kennel, he added, “will definitely meet the demand of the base.”

Pet owners won’t be able to board with their pooch or feline but the base is designing the kennel to make pets as comfortable as possible, said Bob Smith, 35th Services Squadron community support flight chief.

Services, the agency heading up the project, is converting a former storage building near the Air Mobility Command terminal into a kennel with help from the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron. The project’s estimated cost of approximately $190,000 comes from nonappropriated funds, according to Smith.

Base officials plan to submit a proposal for a new, permanent kennel in 2009. Its size and location have yet to be determined, Smith said, though he said officials are considering placing it near the veterinary clinic.

In the interim, “we needed something for the pets” since the pet suites are going away this fall, he said, adding: “They will not tear them down until this is open.”

The temporary pet motel will have spacious, partitioned kennels; the cats get their own room and dogs will board in four separate rooms, each with heat and air-conditioning. Other features are to include:

An indoor and outdoor play area where owners can visit with pets;A quarantine area for one dog and two cats, if an animal gets sick;A place to wash pets;A secure storage area for food (owners must provide the chow).The base veterinarian will visit as needed and three employees will be hired to work at the kennel, officials said.

It won’t be solely for PCS pets. Pet owners planning a vacation also may make a reservation at the kennel if space is available. A yet-to-be-determined boarding fee will be charged.

“For the pets, this is going to be nice,” Smith said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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