Finding A Pet Sitter
The next time you go away, whether it’s for business or pleasure, you might want to consider hiring a pet sitter to come into your home to care for your pets. Employing the services of a professional pet sitter will allow your pet to stay comfortable in his own home, gives you peace of mind knowing he’s safe and in capable hands, and frees you from having to rely on friends or relatives. Before you hand over your keys and wave goodbye to Rover and Fluffy though, take time to educate yourself about pet sitters and the services they provide. Interview a few pet sitters, get to know them a bit, and ask questions. Find out about their experience, how frequently they’ll visit your pets, how long visits last, what they’ll do while with your pets, how they’ll handle emergencies and fees. In addition to general information about their services, you’ll want to cover a few very important points, as listed below.
– Insurance and/or bonding: This won’t prevent accidents from happening but it will protect you and the pet sitter to a certain extent should a mishap occur. Most sole proprietors are insured, and most services that employ pet sitters are bonded and insured. It’s a good idea to ask for proof of insurance.
– Pet emergency provisions: If your pet becomes ill when you’re away, it’ll be important for your pet sitter to know what measures to take if you cannot be reached. He or she should have your vet’s contact information, and the type of treatment and/or amounts you authorize if you cannot be contacted.
– Pet sitter emergency procedures: Ask what measures will be taken if your pet sitter becomes ill and is unable to care for your pets if he or she is unable to get to your home due to inclement weather, or in the event of a natural disaster.
– Key security: Ask how the key will be identified and stored. Keys should not be attached to anything with your name or address on it, and when not in use, ideally they should be kept secure in a locked safe or other secure enclosure. Most pet sitting businesses will also offer to keep your key for future pet sitting assignments.
– Contracts and other forms: Be sure that your pet sitter provides you with a written contract detailing such things as dates, times, services agreed upon, emergency procedures, key security, rates, etc.
– References: Ask for names and contact information for a few clients. Take time to talk to these people and ask about their experiences and whether or not they’d hire that particular pet sitter again. Many pet sitters are also happy to give references from other pet care professionals such as veterinarians, groomers, or trainers.
– Pet issues: Inform your prospective pet sitter of any health problems, behavioral issues, or other important factors regarding your pets. Giving your pet sitter as much information as you can about your pet will enable her to give the best care possible.
– Home issues: As with pet issues, be sure to inform your pet sitter of any oddities about your home that may arise in your absence (a toilet that overflows, doors that don’t lock properly, security alarms, etc.).
Because pet sitting is a personal service, you and your pet need to be comfortable with the person you invite into your home. Look for a sense of professionalism with a personal touch, be sure to take into account your gut feeling, and observe your pet’s reaction to the pet sitter your interview. With a little bit of preparation and investigation, your pet will be able to stay safely in his own home while you’re away and will be there to eagerly greet you with love and affection when you return.