We all have activities in life that take us away from home for extended periods of time. Oftentimes, these activities preclude us from taking our pets along. Maybe you’re headed to a wedding, visiting a sick relative, or taking a trip overseas. Whether it is for three days or three weeks, you are now faced with coordinating care for your pet.
The ever-present question is whether you board them out to a pet hotel, daycare, or find a pet sitter. If you own puppies or kittens without current vaccinations, pets with a compromised immune systems, skittish, elderly, or aggressive pets, you’ll need to keep them at home. Perhaps you’d rather keep your pet where they are most comfortable, or maybe a boarding facility isn’t conveniently located nearby. In any case, now you need to know how to find a pet sitter.
Well, not just a pet sitter. You need a reliable, compassionate, knowledgeable pet sitter that you can trust with a member of your family and access to your home. That’s a tall order, but there are ways to find a pet sitter that suits your needs and qualifications.
Let’s take a look at how to find a pet sitter for your precious pet.
Finding a Pet Sitter Through Recommendations and Word of Mouth
Like any service, finding recommendations can help you find what you are looking for. To go about finding a pet sitter, you can start with the following:
Your veterinarian is in the business of caring for your animal and those of others. They not only have a knowledgeable staff, but most likely a network of providers in the community that offer outside services. A simple phone call to their office or a chat on your next visit could yield a name or two of pet sitters that the doctor or staff is familiar with and comfortable recommending.
Much like your vet, your dog groomer likely has connections within their circle. There might even be a member of the staff that freelances, or they may have other clients who supplement their income with pet sitting. Again, a phone call or chat on your next visit might help you find the pet sitter that you’re looking for.
Just like finding a babysitter for your children, you can rely on family, friends and neighbors to help you find a pet sitter. In fact, one of the people you call for a recommendation just may volunteer for the job. If not, they would surely be willing to provide the name of someone they currently use for their own pet. Don’t overlook the older children of neighbors as a resource. If they have a pet, or have shown interest in your pet, they are an ideal candidate. They live close by, can see or hear if anything goes wrong, and their parents will most likely keep an eye out as well. Not to mention, they may be more reasonably priced than other options.
If you take your dog to a local dog park, query other dog owners on how to find a pet sitter. Just like family or friends, they may have a great recommendation or offer to do it themselves.
Using a Professional Service to Find a Pet Sitter
There are a variety of professional services that provide listings for pet sitters. Some have already vetted the listings, others have not, so be very diligent when finding a pet sitter through a service.
Rover.com bills itself as the “nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.” Their services include house sitting, drop-in visits, dog walking, doggy day care and dog boarding. All pet sitters pass a background check, provide a detailed profile with personal information, and require approval by a Rover.com team. They have an easy search function that produces a list of qualified pet sitters that fit your criteria. Each listing contains their name, location, years of experience, fee, available services, along with a star rating system and reviews from past customers. The pet sitter also provides a statement about themselves, which helps you get to know them!
Considered the clearinghouse for caregivers, Care.com has a whole section dedicated to pet sitters (www.care.com/pet-sitters). The site provides the ability to search based on your parameters, and provides listings that include a first name, city location, fee range, and years of experience. There are also ratings based on customer testimonials, and there is statement of experience written by the candidate. Care.com also has a number of tools available on their site to help with the search and hiring process, and they offer background checks for an additional fee.
Pet Sitters International
Pet Sitters International is one of the two national agencies that train and certify pet sitters (www.petsit.com). There are over 6,000 professional members in their network who care for more than 800,000 pets a year! The organization has extensive resource section on their website for pet owners, and a search tool that helps find members in your area available for pet sitting. Each listing has the name of the person or agency, a statement of services and qualifications, and contact information. There are no formal reviews or star rating system, but pet sitters often post reviews they have received from clients.
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters
The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters is the second national agency that certifies pet sitters (www.petsitters.org). In addition to their thorough certification, they offer information, tools, and resources to pet owners wishing to find a pet sitter. You must become a Pet Parent Member in order to use their search tools to find a certified pet sitter, so check out their website for details.
Tips on Interviewing
If you’re only going to be gone a few days and have sought out a neighbor, friend, or family member, there’s probably no need for any type of interview. However, if you are leaving for a longer period of time, and a stranger will be in charge of your pet and entering your home, you might want to have a more formal process set up.
- Compile a list of questions to ask: This is, after all, a job interview. You need to know about their previous experience, whether they are bonded or insured, how they will deal with a crisis in the house or with your pet. If you need some help formulating questions, the Humane Society has some tips and questions to ask potential pet sitters on their website here.
- Ask for references: Again, this is a job interview and you are entrusting your pet to a stranger, so you need to know that they have performed this service before and done so competently.
- Give the pet sitter a test run: To make sure that you have a good fit, try a test run with your pet sitter. Let them spend a day getting to know your pet and have them perform all the tasks they would be doing if you were gone.
- Contract: Many professional pet sitters and agencies have an official contract to sign. Make sure that you read all the fine print and verify the job is clearly delineated with inclusions and exclusions clearly stated.
One last tip: Things happen, emergencies come up, and your designated pet sitter may have to bail in the midst of their contracted time. Always be sure to have a backup family member, friend, neighbor, or even a boarding facility. While it is rarely necessary, it will save you from stress or the cost of having to fly or drive home before your trip has been completed.
Best of luck to you!