By Yahaira Cespedes | petMD.com
Find the perfect pet sitter in a few steps.
You might want to take your non-human family member with you everywhere you go, but sometimes, that just isn't possible.
Finding a responsible, professional individual to take care of your pet may be a more preferable option than using a boarding facility. What about a pet sitter? Here are ten tips on finding a qualified and professional.
1. Ask Your Veterinarian
Any pet sitter worth their salt will have a support network. What better place to get a recommendation than your veterinarian? Especially for older and special needs pets, a pet sitter who has an established professional relationship with your pet's doctor will provide you with peace of mind should there be a medical emergency.
2. Use Word of Mouth
Anyone can look good on paper, even displaying impressive pet sitting credentials. However a qualified pet sitter will come recommended by either a fellow pet parent or a trusted pet trainer who has experience leaving their non-human loved ones in another person's care.
3. Compile a Questionnaire
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has a comprehensive list of qualifications you can use to screen potential pet sitters. Among the pertinent questions to include: Can they provide written proof of commercial liability insurance to cover accidents and negligence? Are they bonded to protect against theft by a pet sitter or employees?
4. Ask for References
A qualified and responsible pet sitter will have a list of both regular clients and pet care services that would be willing to vouch for their professionalism. When provided with references to speak with, be sure to ask questions that cater specifically to your expectations and your pet's needs.
5. Select a Certified Pet Sitter
As an alternative to personal recommendations, the HSUS suggests contacting two national agencies dedicated to training and certifying pet sitters: The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), or Pet Sitters International (PSI). PSI even has a "Pet Sitter of the Year" award for excellence, which has been granted since 1995.
6. Find a Pet Sitter Affiliated with a Reputable Boarding Facility
Although this list focuses on selecting qualified individuals, an established pet sitter will be able to provide a back up housing plan should they suddenly be rendered unable to care for your pet. A reputable boarding facility will have equally stringent standards for working with qualified pet sitters. After all, their reputation depends on their quality of care.
7. Double-Check the Contract
The prospective pet sitter will have complete access to your home and personal belongings, as well as being entrusted to care for your pet. Take special care when studying the contract to ensure that all the discussed and agreed-upon services have been included.
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8. Let Your Pet Give Them a Try-out
Even after you've selected a potential pet sitter who has met all of your criteria, there are equally important members of your family who have yet to approve them - your pets! A qualified pet sitter should agree to your request to have them visit your home so you can watch them interact with your pet. What better way to feel at ease than knowing your pets approve of your choice?
9. Ask About Emergency Plans
Accidents and mishaps happen, and you'll want to select a person who is experienced and resourceful enough to protect your pet as well as you would. For older and special needs pets, the potential sitter should document medication, feeding, and other health-related cycles while you're gone. A comprehensive veterinary and/or partner pet sitter network should provide help if needed.
10. Decide on a Level of Service
Some services may include grooming along with live-in care, while others may offer play time, outdoor exercise, and training. Once you and your pet have determined which is the best level of care, a bit of research will have you finding the best fit for your pet care needs in no time!
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