Important questions and responsibilities for owners when picking a pet sitter.
More and more owners are hiring pet sitters rather than boarding their pets, and many of them turn to you for answers or recommendations on how to choose a pet sitter. Dr. Susan Nelson, assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, has produced a list of what clients should look for in a pet sitter. You can provide the list to clients asking about pet sitters, or vet your own clinic's pet sitter choices with the list.
Dr. Nelson emphasizes that the list contains suggested traits, not necessary ones. "When it comes to pet sitters, not everyone will meet all the criteria," Dr. Nelson says. "That doesn't mean they're bad pet sitters."
She also has a list of pet owner responsibilities to make sure pet sitting goes smoothly. Here are both lists.
Picking a pet sitter
Before settling on a pet sitter, owners should consider these questions:
> What training has the pet sitter received?
> Does the sitter have written proof of insurance? Is he or she bonded?
> What services does the pet sitter offer, such as in-home grooming, walking, training, and playtime?
> How often will the sitter check on your pet, and will he or she perform any other house-sitting duties?
> Is the sitter comfortable giving medication, subcutaneous fluids, or injections, if necessary?
> If the sitter uses another veterinarian, will he or she use your veterinarian in the event of an emergency?
> Can you get a list of client references from the sitter?
> Does the sitter have a written contract that spells out services and fees?
> When you invite the sitter over before your trip, does she interact well with your pets?
> Does the sitter have an experienced backup?
Preparing a pet sitter
Before the sitter starts the job, pet owners should do the following:
> Make reservations with the sitter early to avoid last-minute problems.
> Be sure the pet is well-socialized and accustomed to strangers.
> Provide current ID tags and vaccination information for the pet as well as past and current medication information.
> Leave clear instructions for the sitter's specific responsibilities as well as any medication the pet may need. Keep food and supplies in one place, along with extras.
> Give a neighbor a house key as a precaution.
> Show the pet sitter the home's safety features, such as the circuit breaker and security system.
> Provide written authorization for the sitter to act on your behalf in case of a medical emergency.
> Discuss your wishes with the sitter in the event that your pet dies.
> Provide complete contact information to the sitter as well as information of another family member.