This week marks Professional Pet Sitters Week, so it’s time to celebrate and learn about those devoted folks who step in and care for your beloved pets while you vacation in the surf or snow!
We’ve all been there. We excitedly plan our summer or winter family vacation and then remember Fluffy or Rover. Who will take care of the cat and dog while we are away? Family members, friends, and neighbors are all options, but what if no one is available, or really wants to commit to taking care of your pet for a week or two?
Don’t panic! Professional Pet Sitters are available in most regions of the globe. A simple Google search will provide you with options for Professional Pet Sitters for your area. Look for an organization deemed “Professional”– not all pet sitters are experienced or professional, and you don’t want to be worrying about the care of your pets while on vacation. Peace of mind while vacationing is worth the time it takes to investigate a responsible, professional pet sitter.
Most professional organizations have their pet sitters undergo rigorous training. They are experienced and know how to handle situations that may arise while caring for a pet. Most undergo pet care training, are trained in animal first aid, are insured, and bonded – this is their career and your satisfaction is not only important to them on a personal level, but a professional one too.
Interviewing the pet sitter is important. You need to find the right fit for you and your pet. This will be an investment of time – phone interviews, meeting in person, and checking references, but consider it as a part of your vacation planning.
When you meet the potential pet sitter, be sure to have a list of questions ready and don’t be afraid to ask them all. Below is a suggested list of questions that you should ask a potential pet sitter.
- Is there an agreement or contract? A contract outlines the details of the services the pet sitter will provide. When an agreement is in place there is no question as to what services are to be provided. Ask for a description of a typical visit with your pet.
- Has the pet sitter completed a training course? Training and experience with caring for a pet’s special needs (medication, special diet), and certification in a pet first aid training course are important considerations. Ask to see certifications.
- Does the pet sitter provide references? A qualified, experienced pet sitter should have a list of client references. Be sure to check the references and ask lots of questions (How long have you used the pet sitter? What was the condition of your home when you returned? How did the pet sitter handle any emergencies that came up? How did your pet respond to the pet sitter? Was the pet sitter able administer medications to your pet?).
- Is the pet sitter insured and bonded? Ask to see proof of coverage.
- Will the pet sitter keep in touch with you while you are away? Many pet sitters will offer email updates on your pet if you choose to receive them.
- How much time does the pet sitter spend with your pet? How many times a day will she come? How long are the visits? Usually pet sitters will visit your home 2-3 times per day and each visit is usually 30 minutes in length.
- Does the pet sitter offer additional visits or overnight stays? Arrangements for additional visits can be made. Some pet sitters will stay in your home overnight with your pets.
- What are the rates and how is payment made? Most professional pet sitters have set rates for care, and if there are “add-on” visits, there should be a set rate for those as well. Most pet sitters require a deposit when the reservation is made, with the balance paid at the end of the contract.
- What is the plan if my pet needs medical attention? A plan should be in place for medical emergencies that may arise. The pet sitter needs to know which veterinary clinic you use and where to seek emergency medical care if needed. Provide your veterinarian with the name of the pet sitter who will be caring for your pet while you are away.
- During the home visit, how does the pet sitter interact with your pet(s)? Observe how the pet sitter interacts with your pet. Does she seem at ease? More importantly, how does your pet interact with the pet sitter? If your pet is aloof or standoffish, the pet sitter might not be a good fit.
- Is there a contingency plan for a natural disaster? The pet sitter should have a written disaster plan, as well as a plan to provide for your pet’s care if anything prevents the pet sitter from attending your home.
- Does the pet sitter provides other services? Many pet sitters will bring in the mail, turn lights on during the day and off in the evening, and open and close curtains or blinds.
Make sure your questions are answered to your satisfaction – if you feel unsure, the pet sitter is not for you and you need keep searching. You must feel comfortable with your choice and then you can leave your pet in the pet sitter’s hands knowing that he will be well cared for while you carve the mountain or surf the waves.