Pet sitters can do much more than just feed your pet and provide water. A great pet sitter will spend quality time with your pet and give it the required amount of exercise daily. Finding a reliable pet sitter to take care of your pet can be a challenge.
Why would someone hire a pet sitter? For some pets, a boarding facility is too traumatic. A pet sitter allows your pet to stay in a familiar environment, avoid being surrounded by unfamiliar pets and gives personal attention.
Over the last year, the Better Business Bureau recorded almost 41,000 inquiries about pet sitters across North America. Locally, BBB received about 250 inquiries about this industry.
Here are some tips on searching for a pet sitter:
• Ask friends, family, veterinarian or humane society if they recommend a pet sitter.
• Inquire about the pet sitter’s training.
• Meet in person and see how the pet sitter interacts with your pet.
• Do a background check. A reputable sitter won’t object to a background check.
• Have a list of questions to ask the pet sitter, such as how many times he or she will visit, are they willing to stay overnight and if anyone else would be involved in the care of the pet.
• Compare prices and services to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
• Get references and call them.
• Find out what services will be provided and whether they are trained to administer any necessary medications or emergency first aid.
• Give detailed instructions. This could include emergency contact, feeding schedule, vet information, as well as request to bring in mail, water plants, etc.
• Will the pet sitter provide notes about his or her visits with your pet?
• Discuss how he or she will communicate with you while your away.
• Inquire how your pet sitter makes sure that you have returned home.
• Look for someone who is insured and bonded.
• Ask if he or she belongs to organizations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International. These organizations offer accreditation to those who demonstrate professional experience, complete pet-care-related home study courses, attend conferences and abide by a code of ethics set by the organization.
• Pay with a credit card in case you need to dispute a charge.
• Get everything in writing. Make sure you read and understand everything in the contract.
• Ask the pet sitter if he or she has a back-up plan if he or she becomes sick.
BBB can also help find a trustworthy pet sitter. Contact BBB at bbb.org or call 800-776-5301. BBB can provide a list of BBB-accredited pet sitters and business profiles on ones under consideration.
The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.