If you have pets, you know that leaving them behind while you go on vacation can be stressful. You can minimize that anxiety by hiring a good pet sitter. This article has some advice to make the process easier.
The best way to find a pet sitter is to ask your veterinarian or friends who have pets for recommendations. There may be people who do it occasionally, like I do, just not as a business. Some pet sitters will advertise in the yellow pages or newspapers. Most will leave flyers or business cards with veterinarians.
Many pet sitters belong to professional organizations, and some of these have websites you can visit. Some of them offer a search feature, but remember that only their members will be listed. Some smaller towns may not have local professional pet sitters.
Keep your expectations realistic. Normally, a pet sitter will feed the animals, let them out or walk them, change litter boxes and do whatever else is needed to care for the animal. They will spend an average of thirty minutes for each visit. They might even pick up your mail and water your plants.
There is usually an extra charge for additional visits during the day. Some sitters may be willing to spend the night – something you may desire if you have older or sick animals.
A “meet and greet” visit should be arranged before you are to be away. It is important that both the animal and the sitter be comfortable with each other.
Be sure to plan well in advance, as pet sitters are usually in heavy demand. You should ask for the pet sitter’s fees and policies in writing, so you know exactly what to expect. I would suggest getting references; a trustworthy businessperson will have these readily available.
Ask what other kinds of animal experience the person has. Someone with veterinary experience, such as a technician, is a good choice for special needs pets. A dog trainer, or someone who has trained a few animals will know how to handle dogs with behavioral issues. A pet groomer will have experience handling both dogs and cats in stressful situations.
Pet sitters are not required to have any special licensing, but those who have gone to the trouble of acquiring accreditation from one of the pet sitter organizations show a high degree of professionalism in my opinion. They will have been required to take a course that usually includes business management, animal care and animal health instruction. Accredited pet sitters will therefore likely have more diverse knowledge and experience than someone who has not been through the course. Once you have found the right sitter for you, be sure to give and get all the information you both will need.
You will want to leave phone numbers for where you can be reached, as well as a friend or neighbor who might be able to answer questions or help out in emergencies. Provide the sitter with the name, address and phone number of your veterinarian, and leave a signed letter giving permission for necessary medical procedures to be preformed. Additionally, make sure you have a way to reach the sitter at all times, in case something comes up.