Monday, June 4, 2012

Choosing a Pet Sitter

Kitty 1: When do you think our humans are coming home???
Kitty 2: More importantly, when is the pet sitter coming-I am starving!
Kitty 3: Dude, she was just here an hour ago!

Everyone goes through that time when they go away on vacation, work, take care of family business, etc. and one of the biggest stress inducers is trying to find someone to take care of your furry family members, if you haven't already. There are so many choices out there now; a neighbor kid, a neighbor, a professional pet sitting company or even a semi-professional part time pet sitter. Overall, it can be quite daunting to have someone enter the house, water the plants, and care for an animal(s) you love. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right pet sitter for you; budget, level of trust, amount of care needed and length of pet sitter availability.

I work part time with a wonderful pet sitting agency, so I asked Sue Lambert (office manager, pet care expert, Jill of all trades extraordinaire) several questions and these are her answers:

Are there "red flags", in your experience, that should warn people away from certain organizations or even individuals? Certain signs or mannerisms or tag words?
I would definitely make sure you ask an independent pet sitter what their back up plan is of for some reason their car breaks down or they fall ill? We as a bigger company get a lot of calls from people whose plans for care fell though at the last minute and now they are scrambling. Companies like guarantees the visits, if the primary caregiver assigned is called away, we can still provide the care because we have a back up key and a backup plan.
The only red flags I can think of would be if they are registered pet-sitters and reputable  Do a lot of research, look at their website, google them for reviews or call references.  Make sure they are legitimate!

What does insured and bonded mean to the pet owner? How does that make a difference if they are not?
Insurance will cover things like damage at the house due to things such as letting a tap run over
or leaving door open and the dog escaping or chewing up blinds, etc.  Being bonded relates specifically to the owner's personal possessions and it covers theft of personal belongings.

Do pet services do anything else for the pet owner if they are out of town for long periods of time such as mail collections, plant watering and is it expected or does it need to be discussed?
Yes, it is standard to bring in mail and paper as well as watering a few house plants.  If substantial watering of plants and vegetables in yard, you need to discuss and perhaps add additional charge .. How much time do they want you to spend with your pets versus watering!?

Anything pet owners should ask about the service or experience that people don't but should?
The number one thing is back up plan! You don’t want to be in Hawaii and  find out your pet-sitter is sick and can’t see your pets!  Transporting your pets in an emergency (i.e. medical) are they covered?  Keys how do they label and keep track of clients' keys?  Name on tag/ address?  How long IS the visit, is the walk 30 mins or the visit? Waste bags, do they supply?  

Oh, one more thing, do research first on how much visits should cost you or what you are looking for in terms of pet-sitting companies.  Call them and/or look online and then schedule to meet pet-sitter, one at a time, if you don’t match, then pick another.  Please do not waste the pet sitter's time or yours with negligent prior research.

All in all, TRUST your instincts!  You want people who like your pets to visit your pets!

1 comment:

Jonathan Waterman said...

I agree with you about choosing a pet sitter that you trust. In this regard, it would be a good idea to ask your close friends for referrals. This way, you will have some level of trust with the capabilities of your prospective pet sitter, especially on how to take care of your pet properly during your absence.

Jonathan Waterman