By Randal Griffith,
The holidays are fast approaching and when thinking about traveling to see your family, you might also want to think about the best choices for Fido. Pet sitting is still a relatively new alternative to kenneling, with the benefit of keeping your fuzzy loved ones in a familiar, stress free environment. Finding a pet sitter over the Internet, through your vet or through a pet owner’s network may be easy, but how do you screen for the perfect fit? Here are a few key points:
Setup an interview session with your pre-selected pet sitters. It’s very important to have more than two potential pet sitters for your interview process. Leaving someone in charge of your pets is a very important decision, should anything happen. While in the interview process, take note of how the pet sitter reacts or receives the information you’re giving them. Are they taking notes on what you’re saying? Do they know how to get to your vet’s office? Do they look like they are concerned about what you are saying? Do you feel a connection with this person, or do you feel they are there just because you called them? If you don’t feel 100% comfortable with your potential pet sitter, interview another. You should feel no doubts in your pet sitter’s ability to take care of your animals throughout their daily routine.
Above all, observe how your pets connect to your potential pet sitter. As with any animal, it will take time for the animal to warm up to a stranger. For most animals, it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes. Remember, you’re not the only one interviewing the pet sitter. If your pets don’t respond well with the sitter, you’re not dealing with a bad sitter, just a bad fit.
Reliability is key in selecting a pet sitter for many reasons. If your pet is reliant on medications at specific times of the day, your pet sitter is pivotal to your animal’s health. If you have to visit a family member overnight due to health reasons, are you confident your pet sitter will be there? These are very important benchmarks. One simple way to determine initial reliability in a pet sitter is to test how often they answer the phone, or how fast they return an email. This test is free and requires no bookings!
Don’t be shy about asking your potential sitter for their credentials. Although insurance and animal certifications are not required to become a legal pet sitter in the State of California, you have to keep in mind that your pet sitter is going to be your pet’s first responder. Just like with humans, knowing CPR can be the difference between life and death. Each pet sitter who completes a pet CPR and First Aid course receives a certificate and it should be carried with them at your initial consultation.
There have been many misconceptions regarding insurance, licensing and bonding. Insurance, although not required, is certainly a plus when dealing with a pet sitter. Just like in the automotive world, you have no control over what the “other guy” does. If someone else is walking their dog without a leash, there is potential danger for your pet. If your pet runs out the front door when your pet sitter arrives, this, also, presents a potential danger for your pet. Consider this: If the pet sitter can’t afford insurance, they certainly can’t afford a vet bill.
When a pet sitter advertises that they are “Licensed”, this means they are licensed for business in the State of California. This is not certification of their skills as a pet sitting business. In the State of California, there are no certification requirements for doing business as a pet sitter. This is usually a cause for confusion.
Bonding is another source of confusion. Bonding is a policy designed to ease client’s concerns about theft. For example, if a pet sitter steals a valuable from your home and you report it, the business makes a claim to the bonding agent. The bonding agent will not release money to replace the value of the item until the pet sitter is tried and convicted of the theft. The process usually takes one to two years to bring about complete resolution. If the process finds the pet sitter responsible, the bonding agent pays the claimant and charges the pet sitting business the valued amount plus interest. Pet sitting businesses without employees do not benefit from purchasing a bonding policy, nor is it necessary.
The Holiday season should be filled with joy and happiness. With these tips you can be confident in making the important decision of who will care for your animals in your home.
© 2014 Posh Paws Pet Sitting