According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), more than 60 percent of all the households in the United States have some kind of pet. In fact, there are an estimated ll0 million cats and dogs alone, not to mention all the hamsters, birds, fish, and other pets. Therefore, there is a good chance that someone can relate to my story. If you have children and a pet or pets then you know my pain finding sitters for them. I have a dog and a daughter. My dog, which according to my vet, is dog aggressive. The cause is apparently his breed and the fact that my husband and I did not socialize him with other dogs as a puppy. We are happy to report that we do socialize our daughter with other children and she is not aggressive. However, his aggressiveness towards dogs has made it impossible to leave him in a kennel when we went away.
In the past, before our first child, we were always able to have a friend or neighbor stop by to feed and let our dog out. However, when it came to the holidays most people were unavailable to drop in to take care of our dog. Desperate, we would beg parents to let us bring our dog with us because we had no place to put him.
Enter our first child. During the holidays it was a little much with toys, food, baby carrier, diaper bag, presents, and a baby to bring our dog too. Then a friend told us about a pet sitter in the area who had taken care of her dogs. I was a little skeptical at first about a stranger coming into my house. She told me that the sitter was licensed and bonded and was wonderful. We decided to give it a try because it was either a stranger or Thanksgiving at home with the dog.
Why We Hired a Pet Sitter
What we received in return was more than what we had bargained. Our pet sitter watered our plants, took our dog for three long walks a day, and took in our mail. Our dog loves her and gets excited now when we leave. All of these services are significantly less than the cost of the kennel. In addition, it gives us a piece of mind and we don't have to drop the dog off and pick him up. On one of our latest trips we got a call from Chris, our sitter, to let us know that our dog had developed a really bad ear infection. Normally, we would have been concerned and come home to take care of him, but Chris took him to our vet and had them bill us. Pet sitters are all over the nation and international now.
Where Do I Find a Pet Sitter?
If you want to locate a pet sitter you should start by asking friends and your vet. Also, you can contact National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (800-296-PETS); NAPPS, or Pet Sitters International (800-268-SITS); PetSit, for a referral. At these sites, you can put in your zip code, what kind of pet you have, and what services you need such as walks or plant care.
What Should You Look For?
Choosing a pet sitter is not as easy as opening the Yellow Pages. There are some questions that you should ask to ensure you receive the best service for the family pet(s). The Humane Society recommends answering these questions:
- Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
- What training has the pet sitter received?
- Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet, such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
- Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
- What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
- Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training, and play time?
- Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
- If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
- How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
- Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?