We have been getting a lot of calls lately from people who have been let down by their Pet Sitter or Dog Walker and are looking for someone new who they can trust. Here is a list of some of the things you should be looking for and questions you should be asking anyone who you are considering caring for your precious pet and your home. Remember, other than your family your pets and your home are probably 2 of the most precious things in your life.
Word of mouth is still the best way to find any great product or service. Now days, word of mouth is not always verbal. It can be online reviews, testimonials on a website, facebook, twitter interaction etc. Remember ANYBODY can put ANYTHING on their website. I could say I was the Queen of the world, but we all know that’s not true *laugh*
Ask to SEE written testimonials, look for reviews if you have time, join their facebook page and ask existing clients what they think. Any good pet care provider should be willing to give you at least 3 client’s phone numbers that you can call and speak to directly about the service.
Insured and bonded
Lots of pet care companies say they are insured when it is really nothing more than office insurance covering their office, car, supplies etc. It is imperative that you make sure they have a legitimate Pet Sitting Policy that covers 3rd person liability. Any professional pet sitter who is serious about their business will have this type of policy to protect you and them. They should also be bonded and have police background checks done on themselves and ALL staff.
If a pet sitting company has independent contractors working for them instead of employee’s, make sure they too are bonded independently, as they may not be covered under the company as Employee’s are. Ask them to provide written proof.
Able to handle and emergency.
What if the pet sitter gets sick, has a family emergency or heaven forbid an accident? Who is going to care for your pet when they cannot? Make sure there is a backup system in place, ensuring someone will be able to cover and take over with all the information they need.
What if there is an emergency with your pet or your home? Are their systems in place on how to handle it? Does the pet sitter have the basic 1st Aid and CPR for animals?
They should have you fill out forms that give instructions on who you should contact, where you would like your pet taken. If all this is done properly you will have peace of mind when you go away knowing everything will be taken care of as you ask.
We all know pets have no voice. They cannot tell you what they did while you were away; if their water bowl was filled up, if they went on a walk, or chased a squirrel. It is important that your pet care provide leave this information in way of a note every single visit. Ask them if they do. Ask their current clients if they do.
Some people say to me “Wow – so many questions, this is more than what I fill in for the babysitter” True, but a pet sitter who is passionate about pets and wants to give your pets the BEST care possible will ask a lot of questions, take a lot of notes as to likes, dislikes, what they are afraid of, what type of leash they walk on, any specific commands that you use…. and the list goes on. Think about it. If the person you are interviewing to care for your pets does not care enough to ask these questions and get as much information as possible, how are they going to give your pets the best care possible?
Last but certainly not least PASSION!
Taking all of the above into consideration, you also want a pet care provider who is truly passionate about your pets. If they have passed all the above mentioned items, it is clear they are serious about their business. They should demonstrate a desire to love your pets like their own and give them the best care possible when you can’t be there.
Now you need to see and feel this passion when you meet with them for a free meet and greet. PLEASE never leave your pets with a company that you have not met. At the meet and greet is the pet sitter paying attention to what you say, making notes, interacting with your pets? Do your pets like them? Do you have a feeling of comfort leaving your pets in this person or company’s hands?
Keeping these points in mind will help you find a qualified, pet care provider who is reliable, responsible and compassionate whether it is for daily dog walking, vacation care for your dog, cat, bunny or lizard. Once you find that pet sitter, you will realize that all your research was well worth it, as they will prove to be an invaluable part of your life.