March 6, 2019
Currently there are no industry regulations, and anyone can become a pet sitter. Your kids, the next-door neighbor, a housekeeper or the babysitter can let your dog out to potty or feed your cat. However, all pet sitters are not created equal. There are many differences between a pet sitter and a professional pet sitter.
Special Needs and Senior Pets
For instance, if you have a senior or special needs pet, you want a pet care provider who has experience working with these types of pets. Look for a company that has employees with diversified expertise. Does your cat need to be pilled or dog need an insulin injection? These are specific skills that not all pet sitters have or are comfortable doing.
What if there is a problem?
If a problem arises, is your pet sitter capable of handling? If there is an accident and your pet sitter is found liable, do they have insurance to cover you?
If your pet sitter gets sick, goes on vacation, or gets delayed due to inclement weather, what is their protocol for making sure your pet still gets the care it needs?
The answers to the questions above will help you determine whether you are about to hire a pet sitter or a professional pet sitter. If you are like most pet owners, you treat pets like family. Why entrust their care to just anyone?
Here are 11 questions we recommend asking before hiring a pet sitter to care for your furry family:
- Are you insured and bonded? Professional pet sitters are happy to share this information with you and show you their coverage certification. If an accident occurs, and the pet sitter is liable, you are covered.
- Do you have pet first aid/CPR training? Pets get hurt and accidents happen. Will your pet sitter know what to do if an emergency occurs? Pet first aid/CPR training can mean the difference between valuable medical care and death. Why risk a pet’s life with a pet sitter that does not have this formal training.
- What is your approach to pet care? If there is an emergency, how will your pet sitter respond? When you rely on your pet sitter to walk your dog daily or give medications at a specific time, and they are sick with the flu, what back up support do they offer to ensure your pets are cared for?
- What certifications do you have? Ongoing training? The pet sitting industry in NH is unregulated and there are no licenses needed. However, there are several national organizations that offer different types of certifications that pet sitters can pursue to set themselves apart from the competition. These certifications require many hours of independent study to pass a certification exam. Valuable information on pet health, safety, training, body language and other topics, for many different types of pets, must be understood in order to become certified.
- How long have you been in business? If your pet sitter is new to the business, they may not yet have the experience needed if your pet has special needs. Do they have a network of support from trainers? Veterinarians? Holistic practitioners? Other pet industry professionals? Do they have references and/or testimonials they can share to support how they work and the value they offer?
- How are employees screened? Assuming the pet sitter works with a diversified team of employees, how are they screened? What types of background checks are performed both at the federal and local level? Are background checks performed annually or just when the employee is hired?
- How do you keep my information secure? Customers share many personal and sensitive details when hiring a pet sitter. You should always ask how this information is kept secure such as your address, alarm codes, garage and door codes, etc. If you have given the pet sitter keys to your home, ask how these are kept safe and what happens if a key is lost.
- Can you provide references? The best measure of a pet sitters’ skills is to hear from other pet owners who have hired that person. Ask for references of customers who have similar needs. For instance, if you have a diabetic cat, you don’t want a reference for a customer who hires the pet sitter for dog walking. You can also review testimonials on Facebook, Google and Yelp. These references are more valuable then ones found on a pet sitter’s website since they are posted by the pet owner.
- How do we stay in touch while I am away? It is important to stay updated on your pet’s care while you are on vacation or at work. It is also fun to see pictures of what activities your pet is doing. You will have peace of mind knowing your pet is happy and well cared for. Does the pet sitter use a secure online portal to share information immediately with you or do you receive a text message or an update via a paper journal at the end of the day?
- What are your rates and what services, if any, are additional? Most pet sitters have their standard rates that they will share with you based on your needs. Additional costs may be added for after hours care, weekend care, special needs care, last minute care requests and more. Be sure to ask what additional costs you might incur due to your pets specific needs.
- What is your protocol in case of an emergency? Emergencies do happen, it is inevitable. Whether an act of God or pet illness, will your pet sitter be prepared and have a procedure to handle an emergency situation? These are important questions to ask so you can have peace of mind knowing that your furry family is in good hands.