Hiring The Right Pet Sitter
I see a lot of ads on craigslist for pet sitters and I think about what is written and how they are conveying their message. If I was looking to hire a caregiver for my pets, I would not choose the teenager who will watch them at her family home nor would I select someone based on the cheapest rates in the area. There are important items that need to be taken in to consideration when hiring a pet sitter.
1. Raising a family pet does NOT constitute experience.
Yes, exposure to animals is good, but how much have they been around other people’s pets? Are they able to control a large dog or handle two medium-sized dogs on a walk? I look for paid experience with animals or volunteer work at an animal shelter to show familiarity. References from other pet owners are another great way to verify experience.
2. Cheap rates aren’t always the best choice.
Establishing a pricing scale requires research. Do they list what they would charge for different services or multiple pets? Their time is worth something – do the rates seem too low? Will everything be paid up front and what types of payment do they accept (check, cash, PayPal, credit card)?
3. There is no substitute for training.
The American Red Cross offers classes in pet CPR and first aid for cats/dogs. Also, pet first aid kits can be purchased or put together and carried at all times. Additionally, there are several pet sitter organizations that offer pet sitter memberships. Members have access to numerous resources and education to become a certified pet sitter.
4. Agreements should be in writing.
A sitter doesn’t have to use a contract but putting the terms in writing, even in an email, is a smart thing to do for both parties. I like to use a form to capture all of the client’s information such as cell numbers, emergency contacts, dates of service, where Fido’s food is stored or how many times of day I have agreed to check on Felix the cat. I have started sending a follow up email to pet owners after our initial meeting to confirm the dates and pricing.
5. Professionalism can be shown in many ways.
I don’t feel a pet sitter must do this full time in order to be considered a professional. However, there does need to be indicators that a person is taking the role seriously. Do they have a website, business card or flyers posted? Are they seeking out additional training? It is important to get a sense of the caregiver’s level of responsibility, either through phone or email conversations, or when you have them meet your pets.
This has been a contribution from Renee Dobrzelewski of All Paws Pet-Sitting proudly serving the Northeast Ohio area of Lorain and Western Cuyahoga Counties.