Number 3 below is becoming more important every day!
Getting the right pet sitter can make or break a vacation, but it can also create a safety net for your pets whenever you cannot care for them. The Human Society of the United States recommends on their website that you answer these questions:
- Is the pet sitter insured?
- What training has the pet sitter completed?
- Will the pet sitter communicate with you to make sure that food, medications have been given as instructed.
- Can the pet sitter get your pet into a vet in an emergency?
- Does she have a backup if they can’t make it to a sit?
- Will the pet sitter insure the grooming, training, and other appointments are kept?
- Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
- If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
- How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
- Does the pet sitter have references?
These questions are detailed and explained on the Humane Society website at: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/choosing_pet_sitter.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/)
In today’s busy and changing environment, however, it is also important for a pet sitter to fulfill other requirements to guarantee the safety and quality of care for your pets and the security and privacy you want in your home.
To find a superior pet sitting service:
- Find a sitter who can maintain your information and your pets’ information in an easy-to-update, secure form, with a secure key or other access information system for keyless or alarm systems to reach the pets on-demand, while ensuring complete security for your home.
- Look for a sitter who treats your pet like the family member they are. Pets are our family members. We wouldn’t leave our children with just anyone, so we should apply the same standards for our pets. At a minimum, your pet sitting service should conduct criminal background checks and state child abuse checks on its employees. This will provide greater surety that those who work for them love and respect your fur babies and are trustworthy in your home, caring for your cherished possessions.
This is becoming a greater concern as many immature pet sitters will spend their time on social media while caring for your pet. The pet sitter you choose should address this in their policies and with their supervisors regularly, insuring that everyone who cares for your pet, takes your privacy and security just as seriously.
- Find a sitter who hires employees and does not use subcontractors. Under IRS rules, pet sitters who use subcontractors may not train their subcontractors, or control the work of their subcontractors without having them reclassified as employees.
Insurance is also a sticky matter with sub-contractors since the pet sitters’ insurance may not cover the work of subcontractors. This leaves you and your homeowners’ insurance open to liability for injury and damage. The pet sitters’ Workman’s Compensation Insurance is a guarantee you won’t be sued for an injury sustained on your property.
- Find a sitter with backup sitters as the Humane Society recommends, but to really ensure your pet receives care if something happens to your primary sitter, make sure they are supervised and ask about policies for employee emergencies like a death in the family, car trouble, illness or even just a better opportunity.
If you are using an individual, rather than a company, contract a back-up sitter to check in once or twice while you are gone, to verify your pets are being loved and cared for as you would and that your home is being properly secured and cared for. The backup may be made primary if the individual sitter experiences an emergency.
- Find a pet sitting service with a real on-demand service, and test it. Many pet sitters work alone, so if you need a sitter in an emergency and yours is busy, you are left to hunt for other options and in turn place security and quality of care second. An on-demand service is more than just being able to schedule you within a day or two. A real on-demand service means professional pet sitters are dispatched daily and not just scheduled in advance. A dispatcher should be available 24/7 to cover your pets’ care in case you have an emergency. You should be able to have a pet sitter at your home within hours, as opposed to days.
Adding these requirements to the questions used to evaluate pet sitters you consider and hire, may make maintaining a relationship with a single pet sitting company more challenging. The benefits, however, will be greater peace of mind, better care for your pet and home, and privacy, security, and continuity when you leave your beloved family member at home.