|By Michelle Wray,
Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue
Have you ever been in the situation that you needed to
be away from home for a while, and didnít want to have to kennel your pets?
If so, a pet sitter may be a good choice for you. Hiring a pet sitter
has many benefits over boarding kennels or having family and friends watch
your pets. Your pets get to stay in their home environment, which
is much more comfortable and less stressful than putting them in a kennel.
They get to keep their normal routine of bathroom breaks and feeding.
Plus, they get loving attention every day. The benefits to you are
also numerous. You donít have to burden your family and friends with
taking care of your pets. You get someone who is trained in taking
care of pets, so you can rest easy knowing that any problems that come
up will be dealt with promptly. Your pet sitter can perform additional
services for you, such as bringing in the mail and paper, or watering plants,
usually free of charge or for a very small additional fee. Also,
you donít have to rush around right before you leave and as soon as you
get back ferrying your pets to and from the boarding kennel or family memberís
When you decide you want to hire a pet sitter, how do
you go about it? If you know anyone who currently uses a pet sitter,
ask him or her for a recommendation. You can also ask for one from
your vet, groomer, or trainer. You may also find them in the Yellow
Pages under ďPet Sitting Services.Ē If you donít see any listings
there, try one of the national pet sitting accreditation organizations.
Both the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) (1-800-296-PETS,
and Pet Sitters International (PSI) (1-800-268-SITS, http://petsit.com/default.asp
) will refer you to pet sitters in your area. Once you find a pet
sitter who services your area, how do you know youíre getting a reputable
pet sitting professional? Here are some questions to ask.
Is the pet sitter accredited with NAPPS or PSI, and what
training has the pet sitter had?
Does the pet sitter have liability insurance and is he/she
bonded? If so, ask to see copies of the policies. Donít use
a pet sitter that doesnít have these things. They protect you against
accidental damage caused by the pet sitter and theft by the pet sitter
or his/her employees.
What information will the pet sitter require about your pets?
A reputable pet sitter will want to know as much as possible about your
petsí routine, personality, health, medications, etc. They should
also want to meet your pets before hand and also have a tour of your house.
What are the fees, and what services are included in them?
These fees and services should be spelled out in a written contract that
is signed before you leave on your trip. Donít assume the pet sitter
will do anything other than what is specifically listed in the contract.
The contract should also list the approximate times of day when the pet
sitter will visit so that your pets are kept on their normal schedule as
closely as possible.
Does the pet sitter have an alternate that will care for
the pets in the event the pet sitter becomes ill or for any reason cannot
care for your pets? Donít use any pet sitter that doesnít have a
What will the pet sitter do for your pet in case of emergency?
Does the pet sitter have a vet they take pets to, or will they use your
own personal vet? Your pet sitter should also ask you for the name
and telephone number of someone who has a spare key to your house, in the
event they lose the key.
What happens if youíre delayed getting back? A good
pet sitter will continue to care for your pet until you notify them that
you are home.
Okay, youíve found a pet sitter and now youíre planning
your trip. How can you ensure the best care for your pets and make
your pet sitters job as easy as possible?
Using a professional pet sitter can be a wonderful option
for you and your pets. If you follow these guidelines, you and your
pet will tolerate your separation much more easily.
First off, reserve your time with the pet sitter in advance.
This is especially important if youíre traveling during a holiday.
Donít be surprised if you call at the last minute before a holiday weekend
and find that your pet sitter is already booked.
Make sure you have plenty of food and other supplies (medicines,
cat litter, etc.) for your pets. While itís possible that the pet
sitter could get these things for you if you run out, it will make the
pet sitterís job much harder.
Have all your petsí rabies certificates and tags available
to the pet sitter. Make sure all your pets have some form of identification
on them in case they get away from the pet sitter. Make sure the
pet sitter knows what form of ID youíre using (tag, microchip, tattoo),
and how to locate your pet if it does get away.
Make sure your pets are up to date on all vaccinations.
Even though you arenít subjecting your pets to a kennel situation in which
they would be directly exposed to many other pets, the pet sitter does
visit many other pets and some diseases can be transmitted through casual
If any of your pets have any behavioral problems or fears,
identify these clearly and detail how the pet sitter is to handle any situations
that come up. Make sure the pet sitter is comfortable in dealing
with the problems.
Give them a key to your house and make sure to check that
it works. Donít identify the key with your name. Use a number
or a petís name instead.
Give detailed instructions for each pet in regards to feeding
amounts, medications needed, etc.
Leave the pet sitter with information on how to contact you
while youíre away. Also give them contact information for your vet
and a close family member who can take messages for you if the pet sitter
is unable to reach you.
If you have an alarm system, show the pet sitter how to operate
If anyone other than the pet sitter will have access to your
home while youíre away, let them know who and when.
Lastly, most pet sitters do what they do because they love
pets, not to make boatloads of money. Be considerate by paying your
bill before you leave.
Pet Sitters International http://petsit.com/default.asp
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters http://www.petsitters.org/
HSUS, Choosing a Pet Sitter http://www.hsus.org/programs/companion/pet_care/pet_sitter.html
About.com, Considering Using a Pet Sitter http://dogs.about.com/pets/dogs/library/weekly/aa080197.htm
Two Dog Press, Selecting a Professional Pet Sitter