As Halloween approaches, we all know what that means – the holiday season is upon us! With that in mind, you and your loved ones may already be making holiday travel plans, and though we’d like to take our furry family members with us everywhere we go, it’s not always possible. Thus, pet owners are left with the dilemma of pet care.
While there are many different avenues for pet care and boarding, pet sitting and pet sitters are one of those options. Sometimes, depending on your pet and situation, the option of a boarding facility may just not be in the cards. Fortunately, you can still find a responsible, professional pet sitter to take care of your pet(s) right in your own home. But, finding the right one is key. So, here are eight tips on what to look for and how to go about finding the perfect, qualified, professional pet sitter to care for your beloved pet:
- Ask Your Veterinarian – When it comes to finding a pet sitter, one of the easiest things you can do is ask your veterinarian for recommendations. All of the best sitters will have a solid support network, so try them first to see who they might know to help you and your pet. You might also simply try asking around. Word-of-mouth is always sure to turn up recommendations.
- Service – Like most professional services, pet sitting duties can be varied. In addition to the basic needs of feeding and walking, some pet sitters might also offer play time, outdoor exercise, training, grooming, live-in care, and more. Decide the level of care that you want for your pet while you’re away, and then you’ll know exactly what kind of sitter to look for.
- References – Always ask for references when interviewing pet sitters. Remember, this is someone who you need to trust to come into your home and care for your furry loved ones. Qualified, responsible sitters should have a list of references available to you, from both clients and professional care services, who can attest to their knowledge, skill, trustworthiness and professionalism.
- Interviews – When you meet to interview your chosen pet sitters, have a thorough list of questions ready. If you’re not sure where to start, the Humane Society of the United States has a great comprehensive list of questions that you can use to help screen candidates. These include two points often overlooked – Can the pet sitter provide written proof of commercial liability insurance coverage in the event of an accident or negligence? Is the pet sitter licensed and bonded?
- Emergency Plans – In the event of an emergency, find out your pet sitter’s emergency plan of action. Accidents do happen, so you’ll want to work with someone who is experienced, resourceful and can handle the unexpected in order to protect your pet. Be sure that both you and your pet sitter have a list of any medications, emergency numbers, veterinary numbers and any health-related issues documented.
- Try it First – Once the interviews are complete, be sure to let you pet do their own interview in the form of a meet and greet. Even if your chosen sitter meets all of your criteria, it’s just as important that your pet approves of them. Have the pet sitter over to your home and watch how he or she interacts with your pet.
All it takes is a little early planning, preparation and awareness, and soon you and your entire family will be relaxing for the holidays.