If you’re like most American families at the conclusion of the traditional school year, you begin planning a summer vacation. Although there are many pet friendly hotels, there are just as many vacation destinations that aren’t appropriate for pets.
So what do you do when you can’t take Fluffy or Fido with you? Well, you have a few options: Ask Grandma to come over to feed Fluffy while you’re gone… and hope she remembers, ask the kid down the street to come over and feed Fido… and hope he doesn’t sabotage your house while you’re away, or hire a professional pet sitter.
You’re instinct may be to go with someone you know and trust in your home. But, you should think again, and consider a professional pet sitting company. Use the friend or family member as a backup or a contact person to give to the pet sitting company you hire. You’ll feel better (especially if your pet has special needs) and so will the friend, neighbor, or family member who doesn’t get roped into the responsibility while you’re away.
The well-being of your pet while you’re away is serious business, and professional pet sitters take it as such. Still, there are some companies that won’t provide the best service for what you’re looking for. It’s important to lay out everything that you expect, and to hear everything the pet sitting company offers. If it’s not the exact fit that meets your needs, keep looking.
According to Lori Jenssen, former president of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, (a pet sitting education and support network group) “A pet sitter is better for animals that like their routines and feel most secure in their own home. In addition to playing with and feeding your pet, a pet sitter will also generally take in your mail, water plants and turn on lights so it doesn’t look like you’re away.”
Here are a 12 tips on choosing the right pet sitting service for you:
1. They should be bonded and insured for your protection.
2. They should be able to provide you with solid references.
3. They should have an affiliation with a national pet sitting organization such as National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International.
4. They should be trained and certified in first aid and CPR for animals.
5. They should have a concrete back-up plan in the event that your assigned sitter cannot take care of your pet. (If using a “solo” pet sitter, ask who is their back-up in case of an emergency)
6. They should have an emergency planning manual as their “go-to” guide in case an emergency occurs.
7. They should have you sign a veterinarian authorization form and should have emergency veterinarian procedures in place.
8. They should provide a contract describing care, services, and fees.
9. They should be available to you for pet services 365 days a year including all weekends and holidays. (They should always have a secondary pet sitter available for your needs)
10. They should provide a complimentary consultation to meet you and your pets, obtain all the information needed to care for your pets and explain the services, fees, and policies.
11. They should demonstrate a level of professionalism by maintaining a website, have a logo, and business cards.
12. They should explain how they further their education on pet care. Professional pet sitting companies attend national pet care conferences, have their sitters become certified in pet care by NAPPS or PSI, read current pet care publications, and network with other pets sitting companies and veterinarians.
When deciding what to do with your pets when you travel, consider an in-home professional pet sitting service that meets these standards. Most professional pet sitting companies adhere to these standards but do your due diligence, after all you’re leaving your family in the hands of someone new.