San Diego Mobile Pet Grooming Blog
Know What Kind of Pet Sitter You Want
As a pet parent, you typically have two choices when it comes to finding a professional pet sitter: paying a qualified house sitter who is also an expert in dealing with animals, or hiring someone to come into your house daily to check on your pets. There are advantages to both.
The first option has a skilled animal-friendly person staying in your house while you’re gone not only to care for your pets, but also to give anyone watching the impression that your property is occupied. The sitter brings in your newspapers and mail, feeds and walks your animals, turns the outside lights on and off as needed, takes out the garbage, and, in general, treats your house and pets like they were his or her own.
Your second option is to allow a pet sitter to come into your home 2 or 3 times daily to check on your pets, feed, water and medicate them if necessary, clean out litter boxes when needed, and take them outside to potty if you have dogs. You may ask this person to bring in the mail and newspapers, but they cannot be expected to stay overnight.
The type of sitter you decide to hire must, of necessity, be based on your own personal preferences. If you’re a person who prefers that your home and animals be safe to your own sense of privacy, then a professional house/pet sitter is going to give you the greatest peace of mind while you’re away from home. If you’re concerned primarily with confidentiality issues, then hiring someone to come into your home several times a day may be your best option.
Be Professional - Interview and Check References
Whichever person you choose, professional references need to be checked and a personal interview conducted with the sitter and the manager of the potential sitter’s service, if you’re using a service rather than an individual.
We recommend that during your interview you ask specific questions of your sitter-to-be and that you keep notes on the answers. This allows you to keep track of who is who if you are interviewing more than one person or service, plus it gives you a certain amount of leverage if you run into problems with the person you hire.
What To Ask Your Potential Pet Sitter
What kind of training did you receive, and do you belong to any professional organizations?
While many professional pet sitting services provide in-house training, there are both national and international pet sitting associations that train and certify individuals to handle your pets, know when they’re anxious, fearful, or ill, provide medications, and walk and play with them safely.
The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters certifies their members by providing a complete course of study in pet care, health and behavior, and nutrition, as well as a complete first aid course.
Certification by Pet Sitters International is achieved by those workers who complete a year-long educational program of on-site and online courses designed to teach them how to care for your pet and how to run a business. They must complete 37 strenuous training categories and pass a final exam to be considered a professional pet sitter.
Do your homework regarding any professional organizations your pet sitter belongs to. Some of these associations focus only on business training and assume the sitter already knows how to handle animals.
Are you – or the company you work for – bonded and insured?
“Bonded” businesses are required to perform background checks on employees. This bonding not only provides protection against criminal activity and theft, it includes coverage if the person you hire walks away from the job or if your animals are injured or mistreated.
Insurance, on the other hand, covers liability issues should your sitter suffer an injury or accident while at your home. If the sitter is hurt in a fall or your dog decides that taking a chunk out of his or her hand is a good idea, the pet sitting service’s insurance carrier provides compensation, rather than you or your insurance company.
Ask to see proof of bonding and insurance. Reputable companies and individual sitters are happy to provide them.
Have you been trained to medicate my pet?
One of the main reasons to consider a house/pet sitting service is if your cat or dog requires regular medications or is a senior citizen. You need to find out if your potential pet sitter is familiar with the various veterinary medicines, including how and when to give them. You should also determine if the sitter knows the symptoms of a possible overdose, and how to handle it should one occur.
If your pet needs medication, then how a sitter answers this most important question should determine if you hire him or her…or continue looking. If you feel the least concern about this person handling and medicating your dog or cat, find another sitter for the safety of your pet and your own peace of mind. Many qualified veterinary technicians pet and house sit for extra cash, and you can ask your veterinarian for references.
What do you know about animal first aid and have you been trained and/or certified in veterinary emergency training?
Particularly if your pet has health issues, this can be a critical factor. Find out if the sitter you’re considering has any animal behavior or veterinary training that allows him or her to notice of something were wrong with your pet. Ask if they’ve been certified in animal CPR by the American Red Cross; the ARC teaches classes and certifies pet owners and pet professionals in emergency rescues regularly. Check to see if your sitter-to-be is certified in animal first aid and if there is a veterinarian they can call in case of emergency if yours is not available.
Can you provide references?
Ask for their references and check all that are provided. Don’t be afraid to actually call the references to determine if they are real. Ask past and present clients about their experiences with this particular pet sitter or service. After all, it’s your pets’ lives and your own peace of mind that are most important when you can’t be home with them.
Finding Pet Sitters in San Diego
San Diego has many wonderful, qualified pet sitters, but sometimes they can be hard to find, especially on short notice! The best advice is to plan well in advance. Holiday periods are especially likely to be booked up well in advance. Find two or three candidates you'd be comfortable with, because when you are looking for somebody on short notice, your favorite might not be available. Many pet sitters will require that your pets have documentation of vaccinations, which you may not have time to assemble on short notice. Best to be aware of any requirements and get that information together in advance.
Keep in mind that savvy, successful pet sitters tend to restrict their service area to a particular neighborhood, or at most a few zipcodes. San Diego used to have a great pet sitter referral service a few years ago, but it isn't active at the moment. Therefore, one of the best ways of finding a pet sitter is asking other pet owners who live nearby who they use. Neighborhood vets and groomers may also be able to give referrals.
Want to Refer Your Favorite San Diego Pet Sitter?
If you have a favorite San Diego pet sitter you'd like us to know about, please contact us or leave a comment below. We're in the process of building up pages of referral links for pet services in each of the neighborhoods we service. We'd love to have your input!
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