How to Choose a Pet Sitter and Avoid Problems

January 9, 2014 ashley Pet Care

Time and time again, I hear horror stories regarding pet sitting and even boarding facilities. It is hard enough to leave your pets, imagine if you came home to a hurt or dying pet… and it was because your pet sitter never visited? Or your boarding facility didn’t keep a close eye on him?

Professional pet sitters see and hear it all. There are times that pet sitting clients have come to me after a terrible experience. Several times clients have told me about a trusted friend or neighbor child that they had watch their pets, but came home to realize their pets were never looked in on.
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One of my clients, a sweet black lab I have visited during workdays for quite some time, was taken to a Wichita boarding facility and came home with “happy tail,” an injury where dogs wag their tail against the sides of their kennel so often that the tail splits open. My client was never told and when they brought their dog home and she wagged her tail, blood was everywhere. As a volunteer at Caring Hands Humane Society, I have seen it happen to exuberant dogs, and it is hard to miss. The kennels are splattered with blood. The client didn’t want to have me pet sit over long durations because they were concerned about her being alone (hence my existing day visits while they were at work), but have used my pet sitting services as an alternative ever since their Labrador’s boarding experience.

Truly heart-rending stories make the news, though…

Most recently in a December 2013 article, a trusted friend (not a professional pet sitter) of a Connecticut couple said she wanted to watch their dog for a few months while they were at a hospital for several months. A mail carrier looked in the window because mail was piling up and saw the starved, deceased dog inside. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/national-international/Woman-Accused-of-Starving-Dog-to-Death-235828931.html

In 2012, a two dogs died in a pet sitter’s care in Arizona. http://www.azfamily.com/news/consumer/dogs-die-under-care-of-pet-sitter-137191423.html

A family left their dogs in the care of their son’s 16-year-old friend. One of the four dogs froze to death before authorities took custody of the other three while the owners were still away. The family returned to find one of their dogs deceased in his dog house and the other three missing. http://www.wsmv.com/story/14777340/dog-freezes-to-death-after-being-neglected-1-04-2010

What should you be thinking about when hiring a pet sitter?

What matters about insurance and bonding?
It is important for a professional pet sitter to be insured and bonded. Not only does it protect you, but serious pet sitters gain such assurances early on. Not only that, but who is their company? If your pet sitter disappears, will you be able to contact their insurer? (Psst. Ours is State Farm!)

References and Reviews, anyone?
Although it is useful to call for references, keep in mind that they aren’t going to give you the number of someone that was dissatisfied. Look at online reviews (Google, Facebook) for the other side of the coin. This is where disgruntled clients go to vent their frustrations regarding dog care and cat care. One angry review may be a fluke, but a string of negative experiences is a very big sign.

Community Ties
Pet sitters that have developed relationships within their community are not going to up and leave if they upset clients and have to “move on.” What sort of community outreach are they involved in? Ask if they have veterinary staff and shelter staff from several different organizations that vouch for them.

Rates
The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” often rings true with pet sitters. Although Newton pet sitters and Hesston pet sitters are not as expensive as big city pet sitters, they shouldn’t be dirt cheap, either. For reliable dog care and cat care, clients should look for a pet sitter with rates leaning toward a livable income. Leaving home, the peace of mind that your pet’s care is someone’s priority is priceless.

Gut Feelings
Always have a meet and greet with your pet sitter before leaving. That way you may become better acquainted and he can get to know your pets. It is important during this time to judge how you feel about the dog sitter or cat sitter. Although gut feelings don’t always mean someone is a “bad” person or would be a terrible dog sitter, it DOES mean they are the wrong pet sitter for you. After all, if you don’t feel comfortable with him in your home and caring for your pets, how on Earth will you enjoy your time away???

Contact Information
Your pet sitter should always be a call or text away. It might be acceptable for them to have to call you back, but it shouldn’t be the next day. Accessibility is key for this type of care. If they don’t check their messages regularly, how will they know that your daughter is sick and you had to cancel your flight home, meaning you’ll be home a week late?

Keep these tips in mind the next time you are looking for dog care or cat care. During my time as a pet sitter, I have heard and seen so much and I know that every pet parent wants their furkids happy and healthy. Blue Skies Pet Care personifies the professional pet sitter with our cat and dog care, as well as other animals. We look forward to seeing every pet.

One Response to “How to Choose a Pet Sitter and Avoid Problems”

  • Annika Larson says:

    I have my cat that I absolutely adore, and I want to make sure she is getting the right care when I go out of town. It’s definitely important to find a reliable and experienced pet sitter. As you said, reviews are a great way to see if there are any previously dissatisfied costumers. Thanks for sharing!

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