Updated: May 20, 2020
So you are heading out of town but Fido can't come. Maybe you have a friend who can watch him, maybe you've taken him to a boarding facility in the past, or maybe this is your first trip since adopting Fido and you have no clue what to look for. A professional pet sitter is who you are looking for. A professional pet sitter is someone who cares for your pet in your own home. This includes dog walkers as well because they are coming into your home to provide exercise and companionship for your pet. Dedicated, professional pet sitters have proper business licenses, insurance and bonding, they can provide proof of clear criminal history, can provide client references, use agreements and contracts, they are a member of a professional association of pet sitters such as PSI (Pet Sitters International), and they are a CPPS (Certified Professional Pet Sitter) and pursue additional training in pet care, such as pet first aid and CPR. When you're going out of town, a professional in-home pet sitter is the safest, most reliable, and trustworthy care you can receive for your pet while you are away.
Professional Pet Sitters do so much more than just daily dog walking, food bowl filling, and poop scooping. We really work to build a lasting relationship with our clients (human and pets alike!) We are undeniably dedicated and caring for pets is our passion and career. We enjoy being trusted advisors when it comes to all things pet related and we advocate for the pets that we care for. We continue to educate ourselves on pets and everything pet related. A Pet Care Specialist, or Professional Pet Sitter is your own personal Pet Care Expert that can be consulted when in need of ideas or recommendations. So what do you look for when searching for a professional pet sitter? Here are a few things that separate the professionals from the hobbyists and why you should consider taking the professional route:
1. Do they have the proper business license if required by their city or state?
Different cities and states have different requirements when it comes to the licensing of professional pet sitting businesses. The City of Atlanta requires that pet sitting businesses obtain a license. If hiring someone to board your pet in their own home, another type of license, requiring evaluation of the boarding location, is required. No special training is necessary to obtain a general business license as a pet sitter in Atlanta. Having a business license as a pet sitter simply means you have the right to do business in the City of Atlanta. So why is it important that the professional pet sitter you choose have their license? First, it shows that they have made a commitment to their pet sitting business. It's not temporary or fleeting, it's not a summer job. This is their career and they have taken steps to prove that they're serious about it.
2. Are they insured and bonded?
Proper insurance and bonding is absolutely vital for pet sitters to have. Insurance covers the client's pets and home while in the sitters care. Bonding helps ensure that the customer is protected against losses from theft or damage done by a company's employees or contractors. If a pet sitting business does not have employees or independent contractors,bonding isn't a requirement. Not all pet sitters choose to get insurance or they are only minimally covered by a listing service or on-demand app based service. In these situations, your pets and home may not be covered in case of damages or loss. Please make sure your pet sitter is insured!
3. Can they provide proof of clear criminal history?
Peace of mind is important while you are away from your home. Your pet sitter will have access to your home and your furry family members and it is important that they are trust worthy and reliable. History of importance may include charges for crimes committed against animals and theft. Pet sitters often have access to keys, security codes, and other home access instructions, so determining that they are trust worthy is crucial.
4. Do they provide client references?
What do their references say? Always ask for and double check their insurance, background check, and references.
5. Do they use a service agreement or contract?
A service agreement binds both parties, the business and client, into agreements that keep everyone safe. They typically lay out expectations for both sides, regarding services, home access, payment, pet health, home safety and more. With a service agreement or contract, you have, in writing, exactly what you can expect from your pet sitter.
6. Are they a CPPS (Certified Professional Pet Sitter) and have they participated in pet care training, such as pet CPR and first aid?
Professional pet sitting is more than just loving and playing with pets. Professional pet sitters should be knowledgeable when it comes to pet health and safety, pet behavior and psychology, nutrition, behavior issues, and much more. They should know all about different collars and harnesses. A professional Pet Care Specialist is attentive to any physical or behavioral changes in your pet. They can identify stress and fear signals and know how to behave accordingly. Always prepared, they know the safest ways to end a dog fight, how to pill a cat, and may even be pursuing other pet related studies, such as pet nutrition, training, or even massage. They are dedicated and continue to study the most recent in pet care.
7. Are they a member of a professional and educational association, such as, Pet Sitters International?
Being a part of a professional association means that they have access to tons of other professionals, learning material, and a code of conduct is expected of them. From PSI, "As a professional pet sitter, belonging to an educational organization or membership association is not a requirement. However, membership in a professional association such as PSI demonstrates your commitment to your profession and the industry at large. Additionally, membership in PSI will give you access to the most up-to-date educational resources and business tools to help you provide the best possible service to clients and their pets—and clients will be impressed when they learn how your affiliations help improve the services you offer them."
When your pets are a part of the family, you want to ensure they receive the best care. Trust in a professional pet sitter that has made this their career and you should quickly feel secure in your decision. You will be able to work and rest easy, knowing that Fido is safe at home and in the care of his dedicated professional pet sitter.