March 7-13th marks Professional Pet Sitters Week, so it’s time to celebrate and learn about those people who care for our pets when we can’t – when we’re ill, on vacation, or busy with family or work obligations.
During the past year, pet sitters have been even more appreciated, caring for pets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professional Pet Sitters are available when you need them most and can be found in across the globe. A simple Google search will return Professional Pet Sitters in your area. Be sure to choose an organization that is “professional” – you don’t want an inexperienced person caring for your pets while you are recovering from an illness or away from your home. Peace of mind is well worth the time invested to find a responsible pet sitter.
Most professional organizations have their pet sitters undergo rigorous training. They’re experienced and have the know-how to handle any situation that may arise while taking care of your pet, such as illness. Most undergo pet care training, animal first aid, and are insured and bonded.
Before you hire a pet sitter, conduct an interview to find the right fit you and your pet. This is another investment in time, but is well worth it.
Ask the following questions to help guide your decision:
- 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.
- Have you 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.
- Do you 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?).
- Are you insured and bonded? Ask to see proof of coverage.
- Will you keep in touch with me while I’m away? Many pet sitters will offer email updates on your pet if you choose to receive them.
- How much time will you spend with my 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.
- Do you 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 your 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.
- Do you have 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.
- Do you provide 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.
During a home visit with you and your pet, observe how the pet sitter interacts with your pet(s). Does the pet sitter 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.
Make sure your questions are answered to your satisfaction. You must feel comfortable leaving your pet in the pet sitter’s care.