How to Select a Pet Sitter
Nothing strikes as much fear in the hearts and minds of a traveling pet owner than worrying if Fido or Felix is being properly cared for while they are away. In fact, an ever-growing number of pet parents are avoiding kennel, boarding and daycare facilities, and even family members or the neighbor's kids, in favor of home-based pet care out of concern for their pet's physical and emotional health, well-being and safety. This, coupled with the difficulty of finding reliable, around-the-clock animal care service, has spawned the need for firm guidelines on selecting professional care for pets.
For guilt and worry-free vacations and work days, pet owners wanting complete peace-of-mind opt for sitters who have undergone their own professional training, are bonded, insured and have been criminal history background checked such as those provided by FETCH! Pet Care (www.fetchpetcare.com) - America's largest and most sophisticated pet care franchise offering professional at-home pet sitting and dog walking services.
"Selecting just the right sitter to care for a pet and home is a very personal decision that should not be taken lightly," notes Paul Mann, founder and CEO of FETCH! Pet Care. "There are a number of hard, fast 'do's and don'ts' for contracting a sitter to best meet each pets' unique needs - and the owners' appropriately high expectations. Taking even a few relatively simple steps into account before entrusting your pet to a sitting service can better assure your loved one receives affection, attention and skilled treatment it needs and deserves. The comfort in knowing your pet is in good hands is priceless."
"Despite conventional thinking, however, all pet care services are not alike," Mann cautions. "A touch of due diligence is key to ensure you find a highly trained, reliable and well-screened animal caretaker."
For the throngs of pet owners who do plan to use a sitter so their animals can maintain good health, normal activities and be nurtured in familiar surroundings as they travel, commute for business, work overtime, or are otherwise away from their pets for extended periods of time, FETCH! Pet Care offers this advice on "Pet Care Selection Do's and Don'ts":
·Do diligently check all of the pet sitter's references - at least three should be voluntarily provided
·Do ensure the sitter is fully bonded and insured
·Do confirm that your sitter has undergone a criminal background check and has undergone their own proper training
·Do pre-interview your sitter with your pet(s) present to observe interactions and establish a "comfort level" for you, the pet(s) and your sitter
·Do ensure the company offers 7-day per week telephone and email availability and rapid response
·Do make sure the sitter can accommodate both your desired vacation schedule, especially during busy holidays, and the pet's daily feeding and walking schedule
·Do ensure the sitter has pre-planned and readily available "backup" sitters in place should your sitter have an emergency that prevents them from completing your assignment
·Do confirm that your sitter will leave you a report card at the completion of their assignment so you know what occurred while away
·Do determine if the service offers a satisfaction guarantee policy in case you're unhappy with any aspect of the service provided
·Do clearly state how you would like the sitter to use his/her visit time in terms of walking, playing, feeding, cleaning, etc.
·Do provide medical and behavioral history about your pet(s) as well as veterinary and other emergency contact information, and gather all necessary supplies, including food, vitamins, treats, and a leash, in one central location
·Don't assume that you can leave your pets alone and unattended in your home with a large supply of food and water while you're away. Pets can easily knock over their food bowls or feeders, lock themselves in rooms, get their claws caught in soft materials, choke on food or hairballs, cause unforeseen damage to items in your home, and could be trapped should a fire or other unforeseen emergency occur in or near your home or apartment
·Don't believe that pets left alone for long period of time are immune to emotional distress. Complete solitude for days on end can make an animal depressed, lethargic and possibly aggressive toward its owner when they arrive home
·Don't stick your dog in the back yard unattended. They could be affected by unusual and expected weather conditions, be vulnerable to nighttime predators, try to - and successfully - escape through a weak point in your back yard, or bark incessantly causing neighbor frustration and worse, impoundment by officials
·Don't leave your pet care to the local neighbor's kid. Children and teenagers can be forgetful and may not live up to their full pet care responsibilities, possibly forgetting to show up on your requested dates. Even those with the best of intentions and efforts can still fall far short in properly caring for your pet or acting on an emergency with your pet or home
·Don't unnecessarily subject your pets to crowded kennels, boarding or daycare facilities. These are the primary breeding grounds for airborne diseases such as kennel cough and the potentially deadly canine influenza. If your pet is lucky enough to avoid disease, they may still have psychological trauma from being confined in a cage with non-stop barking around them, picked on by an alpha dog, or through experiencing separation anxiety from their home environment and their owners
·Don't shop for a pet sitter on price alone. Often, the lowest-cost providers lack insurance, bonding, professional training and backup staff. If something goes wrong with your pet sitter, your pet or your home, you could be stuck without pet care, left responsible for paying a large repair or veterinarian bill, or worse. The old adage remains true even for pet care: you get what you pay for
·Don't wait until the last minute to reserve your pet care service. Top-notch pet care providers typically book up quickly and you don't want to get stuck at home or have to make critical sacrifices in your pet's care this season
Mann concludes, "These tips are what we consider to be the cardinal rules of picking a professional pet sitter. If a pet owner takes these relatively simple tips into account before they entrust their pet to a pet care provider, they can rest assured that their pet - and their home - will be well cared for."
FETCH! Pet Care provides pet owners with a range of services that meet their every need and budget, including boarding and daycare in the sitter's home, overnight sitting and daily visits in the client's home, private and group dog outings, pet taxiing, Go FETCH! four-legged fitness, yard pet waste removal, and miscellaneous home care. A free in-home consultation permits clients, pets and sitters to get pre-acquainted and address each pet's unique needs.
To aid you in rapidly finding a reliable pet sitter near you, FETCH! Pet Care has set up a toll-free consumer help line at 1-866-FETCH-ME (1-866-338-2463), as well as an online pet sitter locator at www.FetchPetCare.com, where you can simply enter your 5-digit zip code to be quickly connected to a qualified pet sitter near you. Pet owners, interested franchise prospects and business affiliates can also reach FETCH! Pet Care through its Web site at www.FetchPetCare.com.