If you’re interested in hiring a professional pet sitter to care for your pets, there are some questions that you should ask. Services offered, as well as fees and availability, vary between sitters. Remember to call for services at least 5 – 7 days before you go away, especially if it’s during a busy season, like summer and holidays. Most pet sitters will want to set up an initial interview and need enough time to schedule one before services begin.
The initial interview gives you, the sitter, and the pets time to get acquainted, as well as giving you a chance to ask questions, fill out any necessary paperwork, and give the sitter any necessary keys and information.
During the interview, there are some questions that you should ask, such as:
- Does the sitter have liability insurance?
- Does the sitter have any references?
- Does the sitter have experience caring for the pets?
- Does the sitter have satisfactory literature describing services and fees?
- Does the sitter have a veterinarian on-call for emergencies?
Most professional pet sitters will have a contract for you to fill out, which covers fees, information, and emergency care instructions. Make sure you give all the information needed for proper care and relevant information on where you’ll be in case of emergencies. Give any necessary keys, and have the sitter try them out to make sure they work right.
Notice how the sitter acts around your pets, and if your pets like the sitter. Don’t hide or downplay any information about the personality of your pet. If your pet has ever shown aggression or is “protective,” mention this to the sitter. Avoiding this important information could lead to the sitter being bitten during a visit and you being liable for damages. If you don’t feel the sitter is professional or confident enough, schedule an interview with another.
When you’ve found a good pet sitter to care for your pets, there are some important things that you need to do before you leave. Make sure necessary items are available and easily located by the sitter, such as:
- food and treats;
- clean food and water bowls;
- leashes, harnesses, or halters;
- kitty litter;
- bedding for cage cleaning;
- paper towels;
- brooms and dustpans;
- trash bags;
- supplies for plant care;
- emergency phone numbers, and location and number where you can be reached.
There are some other arrangements that should be made if you’ll be gone for more than a few days, like:
- clean out the fridge of spoilable food;
- arrange for walks to be shoveled in the winter;
- have a backup key left with a neighbor or nearby relative in case the sitter can’t visit due to severe weather;
- notify neighbors (and possibly the police) that there will be a pet sitter visiting your home.
To find out more about hiring a professional pet sitter, and to locate sitters available in your area, check the websites below:
Pet Sitters International – This organization for professional pet sitters offers a large, searchable database of members available for service.
Professional United Pet Sitters, LLC – Search for a professional pet sitter in your area who is insured with PUPS.
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters – This other good professional pet sitters’ organization offers a database of pet sitters, searchable by pet type and services wanted.
Local Pet Care – Search for local, independent, and experienced pet care professionals in your area.