When I first started out in 2010 there were a few other pet sitters in my area. There was plenty of work to go around and we all referred to one another when we were booked.
After a few years, some services closed their doors, sitters relocated, retired, changed careers. For everyone that closed, eventually another would open up and initially I thought this was a good thing.
But then something changed. Big tech companies started to advertise that being a dog walker, pet sitter or home boarder was a quick, easy and fun “side gig”. Kind of like that app for car transport services. Like the car service, you can simply use an app to order a dog walker on demand or find a place to drop your dog off for home boarding. It’s easy and convenient, at least on the surface. What could go wrong?
I’m not saying someone can not find a good pet care provider this way, there are many responsible and even experienced pet sitters and boarders that can be found through these services. However, most of the people on these apps are not professionals. They are not vetted as thoroughly as the tech companies claim, this has been proven over and over as more horror stories are coming to the surface. A quick Google search will bring up several of these articles. This is a largely unregulated industry and as a business owner of a Professional Pet Sitting Service, myself along with many of my colleagues are calling for regulations in the pet sitting and home boarding industry.
As pet owners, what can you do? What do you look for when seeking pet care?
First, a professional pet sitter should be affiliated with a professional pet sitting organization such as Pet Sitters International or National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. You can contact those organizations to verify your sitter is a standing member. Next, check if you sitter is certified thorough that organization. This proves your sitter has passed a certification exam that covers all aspects of the pet sitting business including office procedures, animal health, safety and of course pet care. The sitter will need to complete 30 hours of CE to remain certified. This will easily separate the “hobbyist” from the professional. All certified sitters are required to adhere to a code of conduct and standards in order to remain in good standing.
After you have determined your sitter is a good standing member of a professional organization, check their online presence. Do they have a professional looking website? Are there client testimonials? Do they have proof of insurance and bonding? Do they have online scheduling software? This is proof that they are financially invested in their business. Checking social media such as Instagram and Facebook can help you discover if this sitter is a member of the local community. Do they post regularly and have pictures on there of their client’s pets, not just stock photos? Ask in local FB groups if anyone has heard of the sitter and can they recommend them. Do not rely on references given by the sitter alone, these can easily be faked. Ask about their background with animals, this is especially important if you have a special needs pet that might require medication and extra supervision.
Finally, check if there is a license required in your state for dog boarding. Ask for proof of that license before you leave your dog in someone’s home. Most sitters through apps are not licensed, leaving you very little recourse should something go wrong.
Our industry is changing and we are proud to offer modern app based software that provides the convenience that the large tech companies offer, but with the personal attention of a small boutique service.
If you are looking for Professional Pet Care in the Lower Bucks County, PA area call us today at (267) 981-4929