I mentioned over the summer that I had taken a temporary freelance copywriting job that required me to be on-site all day. Luckily, I found the greatest pet sitters imaginable! (Click on their site and you just might see some familiar faces! 🙂 ) Ann from Bloomington Pet Pals wrote this awesome guest post sharing her professional advice for looking for the right pet sitter… since the holidays are just around the corner after all!
We’re getting close to the holidays – a time when many people travel and face the dilemma of what to do with pets who can’t go with us. Friends and neighbors may be your usual option, but over the holidays they may be busy with their own plans and not have time to babysit. In-home pet sitting can be a great option if you find the right sitter.
If you don’t have a regular sitter, now is the time to start looking to make sure you get the best.
The key to success is doing your homework and understanding that not all pet sitters are equal. It takes more than a love of dogs and cats to be a good pet sitter. As someone who has been doing this for a while, I am often amazed at how easily people turn over their homes and pets to our care with few if any questions about our background or what will happen while they are away. We offer these suggestions to help you find the best sitter for your family.
1. Interview. Pet sitters are working for you and you should feel comfortable interviewing them as if you were hiring them for any job. Ask questions about experience. Ask how they will spend their time with your pet and how long each visit lasts. Pay attention to the sitter’s interests – are they more concerned about learning about your pet or how your big screen TV works? What questions does the sitter ask you – do they just cover the basics about where food is kept or do they go in-depth to learn about your pet’s habits, history, likes and dislikes?
2. Meet. Arrange a meeting with the sitter well in advance so if you don’t click, you have time to find someone else. Pay attention to how the sitter greets your pet and how your pet reacts to them.
3. Insurance and bond. I’m stunned at the number of pet sitters who operate without these protective measures. You are turning your home, your possessions and your beloved pet over to someone else and it’s irresponsible of them not to do everything possible to protect it. Even if the sitter you select is as honest as Mother Teresa, insurance is still mandatory. Insurance covers damage to your property and pet, as well as coverage for lost keys. Accidents can and do happen and if a sitter unintentionally breaks something or any unexpected accident happens, you don’t have to worry about who will pay for it if the sitter carries liability insurance.
4. References. Ask for the names and contact information of other customers and follow-up by calling those customers and asking questions. Ask the sitter for the name of a veterinarian who would recommend them because a good sitter should have relationships with doctors in your area. Call the veterinarian and ask if they recommend the sitter.
5. Accountability. Hopefully a sitter will provide you with a contract that spells out exactly what they will and won’t do, how much time they spend at your home and what they charge. If they don’t offer this in writing, ask for it. In-home pet sitting is a personalized service and you should expect personal care. The sitter should be willing to check in with you regularly while you are away to provide updates on how you pet is doing. You should also be provided with a way to easily contact the sitter while you are away.
Suggested Interview Questions
- Ask for ID! Get the sitters DL number, social security number or federal employment number. Ask for proof of insurance and bond.
- What protection does the sitter have in place to guarantee they do not bring fleas, parasites or disease to your pets and home?
- What would happen if the sitter became injured or ill while you were away and could not get to your pet?
- What contingency plan is there for protecting your pet in severe weather, natural disaster, etc?
- Is the sitter you meet the only one who will be caring for your pet or be in your home?
- Who has access to your keys, security information?
- Does the sitter have a criminal background? Have they ever been sued?
- What recourse do you have if you are unhappy with service? Do they offer a satisfaction guarantee? How are disagreements resolved?
A final word of advice:
Many of us think of our pets as children. When choosing a pet sitter, be as selective as you would if you were hiring someone to care for your child.