by Jennifer Toussaint, Chief of Animal Control
Choosing someone to care for your pet in your absence is a big decision. Making an educated, and well-thought-out choice, is key to ensuring that your beloved family member will be cared for appropriately and safely until you return. Unfortunately, in my line of work, I have seen the results of poor choices made by owners and how it negatively affected their pets. Please keep in mind the following do’s and don’ts when it comes to finding a pet sitter or dog walker.
-Check references thoroughly! Speaking with other owners who have worked with the individual or company is important to find out the level of care you can expect your pet to receive. -Have the same person care for your pet instead of changing or rotating caretakers. You and your pet should meet the person before you go away to make sure it’s a good match.
-Ask for proof of commercial liability insurance.
-Expect a reputable pet sitter/ dog walker to ask for your pet’s vaccination history, especially rabies information.
-Make sure to check the location where your animal will be housed and ask if they keep other pets. Asking key questions about their processes of care can help you determine if this is a good environment for your pet or something that might be too stressful or not what you are looking for.
-Ask about their procedure for medical issues or emergencies for both your pet and themselves.
-Ask all the questions you may have. Professional pet sitters/dog walkers understand that choosing a person to care for your family member in your absence is a stressful process and something you take very seriously. They should be able to answer scenario questions, talk about their experience, and interact with your pet in a calm and professional manner.
-Have a backup plan, especially if you are taking a long trip and leaving your pets in your home.
-Research all your options and weigh the pros and cons. You know your pets best!
-Hand your pet to someone in a mutual location that is not their residence – this is not standard practice and should alert you that something might be off!
-Grant access to your home or your pet before checking references and doing a background check!
-Hide key elements of your pet’s behavior or discomfort. Setting your pet up for success means being honest and upfront with a potential caregiver so they can make educated decisions and adjustments about your animals’ care when you are absent.
-Wait until the last minute to find care for your pets.
As an animal control officer, I have seen the results of individuals making quick decisions in the selection of a pet sitter/ dog walker having little background information and how that has affected their pets in their absence. From dogs getting lost and never recovered, to animals left in crates for 72+ hours when the caregiver never came, to animal’s not receiving emergency medical care when it was needed – the list goes on. If you follow the key elements outlined above, you will set you and your pet up for success in the future. While we cannot endorse any specific pet sitting business, we do recommend that you seek a sitter accredited by a national organization such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.
For more detailed information including questions to ask yourself and your pet’s potential caretaker click here.