When google searching for someone to care for your pets, you will likely see Rover, Care. Com or DogVacay come up at the top of your search results. But are they the best place to find a great pet sitter?
Those sites will tell you that the sitter you select on their site has paid for a background check, has experience and some will even insure the sitter in your home. This all sounds wonderful, right? It actually can work out very well, but in some instances it has had disastrous results. All of these sites and many others can also attract people who are looking to make what they think is “easy money”. It might be someone who started out with the best intentions and became overwhelmed or in a few cases a dishonest person looking for access to people’s homes. I am not saying that will definitely happen if you hire someone on these sites. There are also professionals on there such as myself hoping that pet parents will choose one of us instead of the cheapest sitter, who may not have the experience to handle a variety of possible scenarios that may come up.
I know many pet parents don’t want to think about something going wrong while they are away, but what if a pipe bursts or the power goes out? What if your dog suddenly stops eating or your cat is not urinating in the litter box? A high school or college student may not recognize the early symptoms of an illness or know what to do in the event of a home emergency or worse, a pet emergency. A professional pet sitter has seen it all! My company as well as many others in our industry know the importance of getting all of a client’s emergency contacts, learning the behavior of their cat or dog and what to do when things don’t go quite as planned. A professional pet sitter has a plan B AND a plan C. We know that if a cat has not urinated in the box that he might be going elsewhere OR it might be a urinary blockage that will need a trip to the ER. We will be in close contact with the pet parent to collaboratively solve the problem. We will call their emergency contacts in the event we come in and there is a broken pipe or an extended power outage. We are all fully insured and bonded, but in my experience we have never needed to use it because we quickly get in front of any potential problem.
You can still say ” my dog is really easy” or “my cat just needs his food and water bowls topped off” but any professional pet sitter will tell you that there have been times where a simple job became quite complex and the pet owner was relieved that they hired someone who knew exactly what to do when things became complicated. We walk dogs every day and know what to do if a strange dog suddenly comes charging at your dog. We have back up leashes in our car should you accidentally leave the dog leash in your car. We have the experience that is needed when caring for a special needs or senior pet. If your cat or dog is in sudden respiratory distress or something more subtle such as your parrot is not using his normal perch, we recognize these problems because we have cared for hundreds of pets and have encountered a variety of situations. If we encounter a medical emergency we are always prepared to take your pet to the veterinarian.
So how does a pet owner find a true pet care professional? When performing a google search, try looking below the above list of directories and click on local pet sitting websites. Read through their About Us profile, Testimonial page and Facebook Business page. See what people are saying about them. Do they live in your town? How long have they been doing this professionally? What is their professional background as far as caring for pets? If you are in a hurry to find a pet sitter, besides doing a google search you can ask your vet for recommendations, your apartment complex, your neighbors or your groomer. You can also go to https://www.petsitters.org or https://www.petsit.com/locate for a directory of pet care professionals. On these sites you won’t find anyone who is just doing pet sitting or dog walking on the side. Instead, you will find pet care professionals who, like myself, own professional pet sitting and dog walking services. We all work with animals full time, every day. These two organizations, et Sitters International and the National Association Of Professional Pet Sitters have certification programs and a wealth of resources for professional pet sitters as well as annual conferences for continuing education. Most professional pet sitters belong to one or both of these organizations, look for a badge on their website.
Please keep in mind that the best sitter for your pet might cost a little more, but you will be glad you spent a few extra dollars should a situation arise that needs a professional!