I don’t know how many people know this, but Sunday was the start of Professional Pet Sitters Week, at least in the US. I know, exciting, right? I’ve started pet sitting. Or rather, I intend to once all the deep snow melts and people can drive safely again. I’m not a professional, though.
So, you may ask, what constitutes a professional pet sitter?
A professional pet sitter will, in general, charge more than a hobby pet sitter. This is not because they’re being mean or pretentious about their services (or it shouldn’t be; there are always bad apples among the good). This is because a good professional pet sitter will have pet sitter liability insurance, they’ll have forms for their client to fill out so they know what to do to best care for their client’s pet(s) and what to do in the case of an emergency, they’ll request an authorization form from their client’s vet to ensure if something does happen the client’s pet(s) will receive the care they need from a vet the clients trust, they’ll have a lawyer help them draw up a contract to protect their business as well as their client that will detail what services the pet sitter will and will not provide, and they may even pay for membership in pet sitter organizations that will give them access to pet education classes such as pet first aid, pet CPR, pet behavior, and pet training techniques as well as access to other professionals that can help them if an emergency arises.
Now, I am not a professional. Not yet. I hope to eventually become one, but that costs money and, currently, I have very, very, very limited funds (this is what happens when you’re dealing with several illnesses for 12 years that the doctors only just figured out what they are and how best to mitigate the symptoms). However, that does not mean I don’t intend to give the pets I’m sitting the best care I am capable of giving. Besides making fliers to advertise my availability, as shown below:
… I’ve also made a basic questionnaire for the owners. It looks something like this:
As I said, not professional, but as close to it as I can be in my current circumstances.
The price of pet sitting varies from service to service and from city to city, as does what they are willing to offer their clients and their client’s pets, so do your research before hiring anyone as a pet sitter. Usually (though not always), the cheaper the price, the cheaper the service. So ask questions. How much do they know about your type/breed of pet? What services do they offer? Do they have experience pet sitting or is this their first time? Are they willing to send picture updates on a daily basis (I recommend this if you’re not sure how well the sitter will work out)?
Another question one should ask is what services they offer. The services offered between a professional pet sitting service and a hobby pet sitter will likely be quite different. For example, hobby pet sitters may offer feeding and water changes, cuddles, play, potty breaks, pooper scooping or cleaning the litter, basic brushing, baths, and daily walks. If they’re going to pet sit at a client’s house rather than in their own home, they may offer to bring in the mail or water plants. A professional pet sitter, in contrast, may offer all of those things as well as professional pet grooming, daily picture updates as a matter of course, dog training, cat training (if you want it), clean-up of any pet messes, and administration of pet medications. If they’re going to pet sit at a client’s house rather than in their own home, they may offer overnight stays, pick up the laundry, check that the house is secure, alternately changing the lighting in the room by opening and closing the blinds to give the house a lived-in look while the owners are away, and take care of the yard as well as any indoor plants. Keep in mind neither of these lists of what a hobby pet sitter or professional pet sitting service may offer is definitive and may vary from person to person and service to service. Don’t be shy, ask questions!
For those who have used a professional pet sitting service and loved it, make sure you express appreciation for all that they do! Happy Professional Pet Sitting Week!!
Have you hired a pet sitter? What was your experience? What do you look for in a pet sitting service? Do you hire a professional pet sitter or a hobby pet sitter? If you’ve had experience with pet sitters, good or bad, please tell us about it in the comments below! We’d love to hear your experiences!
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