Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The PetsitUSA Blog

The PetsitUSA Blog

Five things you must discuss with your pet sitter

Posted: 19 Jan 2010 11:13 AM PST

If you’re looking for a pet sitter, there are a number of things you’ll want to talk before hiring someone. This is a short list of some of the more important topics that you should be sure to have on your list.

Emergency procedures
If your pet becomes ill while you’re away, you want to know your pet sitter will be able to handle it in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Ask your sitter if she will immediately rush your pet to the vet, call you first, call your emergency contact, or if there is some other plan of action. You’ll also need to let your pet sitter know what type of treatments – and cost – she is authorized to OK if you or your emergency contact can’t be reached. While you’re talking about emergency procedures, this is an excellent time to ask whether or not your pet sitter is trained in pet first aid.

It’s also crucial that you ask how pet sitting visits will be handled if your pet sitter becomes unable to care for your pets. Does she have a backup plan that allows another person to easily take over?

Chances are, nothing bad will happen to your pets or your pet sitter while you’re gone, but it’s best to be prepared.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Before hiring a pet sitter to care for your pets, you’ll do what’s usually called a ‘meet and greet’ or ‘intial consultation.’ This is a time for you, the pet sitter, and your pets to meet before the actual pet sitting assignment. (hint: if a pet sitter doesn’t offer this, call another one!)

During the consultation, among other things, the pet sitter will want to know about your pet – health issues, behavior, likes, dislikes, etc. If there is something about your pet that’s not ideal, don’t hold back! Tell the pet sitter. For example, if you know your dog has some aggression problems make sure your pet sitter knows this! Don’t assume that if you don’t mention it, it won’t be an issue. It may really suck to tell a pet sitter your dog bites and be turned down as a client, but it’s going to be even worse if that dog ends up biting someone while you’re away.

Sign on the dotted line
Does your pet sitter have a contract that spells out what services will be provided? So there is no confusion, it’s crucial that paperwork outline exactly what services will be provided. This way you and your pet sitter have clear expectations. How many times per day will your pets be visited? Will your dog be walked? Will he/she bring your mail in? How much will it cost? The contract should answer these, and many other questions.

If a potential sitter doesn’t offer a contract, look for someone who does.

Insurance and bonding
Nobody wants anything to go wrong while you’re away, but responsible pet sitting businesses will have each of their pet sitter insurance coverage for each of their pet sitters. General liabilty insurance covers such things as dogs that get loose from a pet sitter and bite someone, if your pet sitter accidentally breaks something in your home, or accidental injury to your pet.

Many pet sitters are also bonded, although this is most appropriate for pet sitters who are employees of pet sitting businesses.

References and experience
Ask your pet sitter about his or her experience. You want to be sure your pets are being cared for by someone who is knowledgeable about the type of pet you have. Ask how long they’ve been pet sitting and if they have any formal education in regards to pets. They may be trained in pet first aid, be a current or former veterinary technician, be a certified dog trainer, or have other pet-related training.

Ask for references, but don’t stop there. Make sure you take the time to call a few of them to hear first hand how they liked the pet sitting service.

As I said above, these are just a few of the things you should talk to a potential pet sitter about before hiring them to care for your pets. See our FAQ section for more information to help you find the best pet sitter for your pets.

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