H&H Founder, Alexis
The Secret to Choosing a Quality Pet Sitter
Over the past couple years, I have spoken one-on-one with dozens of pet owners who find themselves in a bind when it comes to both finding pet care in the usual ways, and knowing exactly what to look for when they start searching for alternatives.
More than ever, pet owners think of their dogs and cats as family, and with that growing connection comes an elevated expectation of standards of care, as well as a desire for professional experience that friends, family, and neighbors do not necessarily have. Think about it--you don't expect your family, friends, or neighbors to care for your kids for extended periods of time, ESPECIALLY if they are not prepared for emergencies.
The truth is, there is a secret to finding a quality pet sitter that aligns with your goals in care for your animal family: ask what kind of emergencies they've run into and how they handled them!
This question answers so many other questions indirectly. If you ask a pet sitter and they hedge away from answering, they are either ashamed of how they've handled any emergencies, or they do not have the experience under their belt. A pet sitter may say, "Oh, we've never had any emergencies."
They. Are. Lying.
You may think they are a viable option, but even if they haven't had any major emergencies simply because they are new to the game, any thoughtful pet sitter should have concrete steps in place to continue to avoid emergencies. When one in three pets needs emergency medical attention every year, it is vital that the person or business stepping in to care for your pet when you are not there knows how to handle an inevitable circumstance of the industry.
Here are some green lights to look for when searching for the ideal pet sitter:
They are insured (and bonded) by a reputable pet business-specific insurance company. We use Pet Sitters Associates!
They have an owner AND pet intake form with information on home details and pet details. Important required details would be: name, location, and phone number of regular and emergency vet; any known allergies, medications, or overall medical history; location of home breaker box, water shut off, or any other quirks of the home.
If they have employees, the employees are pet CPR and first aid trained.
If they have employees, they have more than one person trained on a home/pet to prepare for backup in case of any illness or emergency. (Even your neighbor can have an emergency, so businesses have to prepare for this, too!)
They require an emergency contact, preferably a contact that does not travel with you and can be a point of contact for the sitter or business if they cannot get ahold of you, or if their employees are in an emergency situation themselves.
Pet sitters deal with everything you as an owner deal with, except even more frequently! Pets are animals, and animals are unpredictable, even to their owners sometimes. From minor cuts on the paws, to a water heater exploding (yes, it's happened to us!), emergencies tend to wait until you're relaxing on vacation or stuck at work.
If you can't imagine all the ways something could go wrong with your animal family when you're gone, make sure you hire a pet sitter or pet sitting business who has prepared for and experienced their fair share of them!
-your Hand and Hound Pet Sitters!