When you go away, you want a pet sitter to do more than give your pet food and water. You want an individual who has the time and expertise necessary to spend quality time with your pet, allow him to exercise, and know when he needs veterinary attention. You may also want a pet sitter to offer additional services, such as bringing in mail or scooping the litterbox. If you’re like many pet owners, you may simply ask a neighbor to stop in every once in a while to replenish the food bowl. However, there is a big chance that your neighbors lack pet care experience. Pet sitters are qualified to provide the care your animal needs.
So, where should you start your search? Ask friends, neighbors, family, or your veterinarian for recommendations. In fact, some veterinary assistants and technicians pet sit on the side, so ask around the next time you’re at the vet. You can also contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International for a referral. Both organizations offer pet sitter accreditation to those who demonstrate professional experience, so you’ll know you’ll get a qualified applicant.
When searching, you should look for a few key characteristics and qualifications. Interview candidates by phone or at your home to find out the following.
- Can the sitter provide written proof that they have commercial liability insurance and/or is bonded?
- What training has the sitter received?
- Will the sitter record notes about the pet for future sittings?
- Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
- Does the sitter have a back-up in case of an emergency?
- Will the sitter provide a written service contract to spell out services and fees?
- Does the sitter have references from other clients?
Once you have settled on an individual, it is important to host a quick meet-and-greet with your pet and family. This is a great way to see how the sitter interacts with the pet, and it should serve as an opportunity to introduce the animal to a new person.