This is National Pet Sitters Week, and you want to be sure you always have the best in mind for your little fur-baby. If you haven’t already, it’s a good time to think about what you’d want in a pet sitter. Even if you have a trusted friend or family member, he or she may not be available if you have to take a sudden overnight trip–and the last thing you want to do is scramble to find someone, especially if their quality is sub-par, at the last-minute.
The first thing you should know is that there are two kinds of pet sitters: One is a dog-walker or cat feeder who comes into your home once or twice a day. Ask if they’ll also do things like pick up newspapers, remove trash or rotate the curtains. The downside with this is that your pet will be alone much of the time.
The other is a house sitter who, just as the word implies, moves right into your home while you’re gone. While a little more pricey, it provides the least disruption to your pet; there is constant supervision and, of course, your house is always occupied.
The second thing you should know is that you shouldn’t be afraid to interview several candidates or ask a lot of questions. If the person seems abrupt, discourteous or unprofessional in any manner–or if your animal appears not to like them (and, remember, animals are great judges of character)– that won’t be the person for you to hire. Also, it’s a red-flag if the person shows up late–would that mean the person would skip times to come in for walking and feeding??
Third, check with your local ASPCA or Humane Society to see if they have guidelines on selecting a pet sitter.
- Ask for referrals: This includes veterinarians, groomers and neighbors.
- Check fees and services: Sometimes a pet sitter will also take animals to the vet or groomer–but be sure to ask if it’s included as part of the overall package or if it’s an additional fee.
- Ask if they are members of organizations such as NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) or PSI (Professional Pet Sitters International). If the candidate is certified in animal CPR, that just adds more marketability!
- Ask for references, and check them. Be sure to ask any reference whether they have a cat or dog, because you don’t want someone who’s inexperienced with your species; for instance, you wouldn’t hire a dog sitter if the person’s only experienced with cats–and vice versa.
- Find out if he or she insured and bonded. This is a legal agreement and gives an element of trust when deciding to hire a pet sitter. Liability insurance to protect the client’s pets or homes in the event of an accident, as well as insurance that covers bodily injuries while caring for a pet. Remember, this person will have full access to your home. They can easily get it through NAPPS or PSI.
- Get everything in writing. It’s a good idea to have a contact to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Once you go, leave detailed instructions, with your’s, your vet’s and a family member’s contact information.
Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is an integrative nutrition and wellness coach who helps people alter unhealthy habits so that they can balance their lives. She works with both people and pets because, “Our pets are prone to many of the same things we are, from the obesity epidemic to lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”
Author of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways To Fire Up Your Day: Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, her website is: http://www.irenefross.com.