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Why Hire a Professional Pet Sitter

Attention: This article was written by Heather Barker during the time of Petcetera's inception in 2007. Since then, it has been stolen and plagiarized by many other web sites. If you come across this article, please send Heather a link to the published URL at info@petceterapetservices.com. Thank you!


Our story begins four years ago when my family left our house and our American Eskimo, Rocky, in the care of a close family friend during the holidays. Like many other individuals out there, we’d had friends care for the house and the pets before and we’d never had any problems. In fact, it seemed like the best possible solution – our dog would be allowed to stay in the comfort of his own home; we’d have someone on hand to care for him during the same hours we would; and even though we didn’t have to pay for their time, we always made sure to give them something for being such a good friend, and for helping us out during the holidays.

Four years ago, we set off on our trip, making sure to check in with our friend every other day. Things seemed great until we came home early to find the house abandoned, urine-soaked with feces throughout, and our dog without water or food. Fortunately, Rocky himself was fine. He was overly eager to see us, but obviously we were extremely upset. When we were finally able to contact our friend, we learned that his car had broken down, leading to various other excuses that kept him from our home. In the end, it became obvious that our friend’s car took precedence over our pet, especially since instead of hearing about his ordeal and being able to arrange alternate care, our beloved dog was quickly forgotten while the friend focused on the life of his car.

 

We want to be able to depend on our friends, our family, and even our neighbors, but there is a truth that separates them from a professional pet sitter:

Your pet is a professional pet sitter’s first priority. A professional pet sitter has an obligation to care for your pet whether their car breaks down or not. Here’s why:

  • When you hire a professional pet sitter, you’re hiring someone who has made a life commitment to the care of animals. Most professional pet sitters not only have pets of their own, but have chosen the profession precisly because their care for the animal kingdom is immense. A professional pet sitter not only invests in the life of your pet, but understands your care and concern as an owner. Hiring a professional pet sitter guarantees that you are hiring someone whose going to think of your pet’s needs before their own.
  • Professional pet sitters make sure to protect you, your pet, and even your home. Not only will most professional pet sitting services require you to sign a legally binding general service contract and veterinarian notification form, they’ll also have acquired insurance and bonding created specifically for professional pet sitters and agencies.

These two reasons alone are those that I feel are the most important factors that separate hiring a professional pet sitter from enlisting the help of a friend. Friends are wonderful to have, but I have heard from countless clients, and experienced myself, the first hand reality of what can go wrong when your pets’ lives are not in the hands of a professional.

Some other great reasons to hire a professional pet sitter?

  • Your pets will never have to leave the comfort and security of their own home. This includes the added amenity of never being exposed to kennel-related diseases, or having to endure extra vaccinationssimply in order to be kenneled. For many pets, life at the kennel isextremely stressful; this added stress can actually weaken your pet’s immune system and make them even more susceptible to disease.
  • Your pet will be able to stay on its daily food, break, and playtime schedule.
  • Professional pet sitters provide focused one-on-one personal care for your pets. When you hire a professional pet sitter, that specialized attention is included in their fee, not added a la carte. This one-on-one approachprovides the focus needed to spot acute illnesses, changes in behavior or diet, and can prevent medical emergencies before they occur.
  • Professional pet sitters are often certified in pet first aid and CPR.
  • A professional pet sitter forms a strong bond with your pet. This bond reduces stress, provides your pet with a sense of protection and security, and prevents fear and confusion caused when multiple people are responsible for your pets care.

There are many, many more reasons to hire a professional pet sitter. In the end, both you and your pets will rest easy knowing that they’re in a professional pet sitter’s care. Your pets will spend your vacation playing, snuggling, and enjoying the quiet house, while you relax on a beach in Hawaii, or – in most cases – work non-stop on that company project you’ve had to fly to another state for!!

 

Keys to Hiring a Professional Pet Sitter

Pet sitting has become a very popular profession in the recent years, but not many pet sitters who advertise these services are actually professionals.

Here are several ways in which you can confirm that a pet sitter is truly a professional offering a valid service:

  • Ask to see a pet sitter’s business license. Most professionals will be registered not only with the state but with the city they reside or work in. Not every city requires a license for pet sitting, but most DO require licenses for boarding animals of any kind on the business’ premises.
  • Ask to see a pet sitter’s proof of insurance. All professional pet sitters will be insured and bonded. Petcetera is insured through Pet Sitter’s Associates, LLC.
  • Ask to see a pet sitter’s proof of first aid certification. Petcetera’s certification is through the American Red Cross.
  • A professional pet sitter should always provide you with a general service contract that is legally binding. This contract protects the pet sitter, the client, and most importantly, the pets involved. Please be cautious of a sitter that does not provide these documents; you are placing your pet’s life at risk!
  • Request references from your pet sitter. An established professional will be able to provide you with the references you need. An established client base is an important factor in choosing a pet sitter!
  • Ask for a business card – a professional will always be happy to give them out!

Per the recent trend of professional sitters offering grooming services, please take caution when hiring individuals to perform grooming on your pets. Grooming is not covered under general insurance through most companies and must be purchased additionally. Ask for proof of this insurance before allowing your pet to be groomed!! If your pet is injured you will not be able to seek compensation for veterinary care. This applies especially to birds, as an incorrect wing clip could cause the bird to lose the ability to flutter to the ground and drop or fall to the ground instead. Blood feathers are easily clipped by inexperienced groomers and toenails can be trimmed into the quick – any major blood loss to a parrot by this means could be deadly!! Please make sure you are hiring an experienced professional with insurance to groom your pet!

I feel that it is also important to point out the importance of a professional service rate. A professional pet sitter will construct their rates based on several factors including geography, business expenses, & the national average for pet sitting services. In 2008 the average 30 minute visit was $18.50. Petcetera charges $15 per half hour visit. Taxes, mileage, vehicle coverage, and all business related expenses are considered when a pet sitter creates their fee structure. Selling one’s services at too low of a rate is the first step to putting one’s self out of business. Don’t strive for the cheapest pet care available – you typically aren’t hiring a professional when you choose to do so, and could wind up without a sitter down the road.

Finally, please do not hesitate to contact Heather if you have any questions about hiring a professional pet sitter or confirming that a service is a valid business entity. I’m always happy to assist pet owners in finding the right professional service for their pets!


© Copyright 2007 - 2013, Heather Barker, Petcetera Pet Services, LLC