Not knowing this can cost you your dog.
Pet sitters do much more than provide a pet with food and water while their guardian is away from home.
Not everyone can, or should, care for an animal. Some individuals seek out pet sitting jobs because they pay well, are short-term, and can be relatively easy.
If the wrong person is hired, he or she could put your animal’s happiness and safety in serious jeopardy.
1. Before your next trip, dedicate some time to learn about the measures every pet guardian should take when hiring a pet sitter. While these steps are simple, they make all the difference when your pet’s welfare is at stake.
2. Just because you've used a pet sitter before without a problem doesn't mean they’re not dangerous to your pets. Even if you have used your pet sitter multiple times without incident previously, it can lure you into a false sense of security.
Recommend Reading: NY Post...
Distraught owner: Dog walker ‘sold my dog for drugs’
In retrospect, other than your pets being alive and apparently healthy when you come back, how would you know what care they actually received? Animals can’t talk, and there is a lot of opportunity for unscrupulous pet sitters who are “in it for the money” to cut corners.
If you paid for 2 visits a day by our pet sitter, how would you know if she only came once? Or every other day?
3. Online reviews, a Facebook page, a professional-looking website, they can be misleading. Hiring a pet sitter or house sitter is an intimate transaction, which means there’s usually a feeling of a personal connection there. If there’s a problem, the vast majority of people don’t post bad online reviews, they just stop hiring the sitter.
People used to be able to post anonymous Google reviews without even using a nickname. Because of that, some business owners certainly previously “cheated” with Google reviews and wrote their own glowing reviews. (So take older “anonymous” older Google Places reviews with a grain of salt.)
However, now the pendulum has swung the other way: Currently, in order to post a Google Places review now, you have to be a registered Google Plus member (Google Plus is the attempt of Google to try to to compete with Facebook), which means people have to post their full name/Google Plus name in order to review a business.
As you can guess, this has a “chilling effect” on getting honest reviews… People say, “Why would I post a bad restaurant review in my town on Google Plus with my full name and picture?
If I go back I’ll wonder if they spit in my food!” so it’s fairly rare for new reviews on Google Places to be critical, especially in smaller towns where you’ll run into those people socially.
Why? Because the staff at your vet’s office is in contact with more dog owners than you’ll ever meet, and they meet them when there’s a problem. (ie, “My cat is dehydrated because my pet sitter forgot to feed it”, “My pet sitter sat on my dog and I think its leg is broken”, etc.)
Why Should You Keep Asking Your Vet’s Staff?
Because situations change. Even if you used your pet sitter for years without any observable problems. And when you started using her, maybe she didn't have any complaints at that time.
But over time, those complaints start stacking up, and it’s your job as a pet owner to stay on top of it.
Ask Friends, Ask Other Dog Owners, Check Online Reviews
Of course you should ask around from other sources as well… Friends, other dog owners, online reviews (which aren't really reliable, as shown above… Everything helps.
How Do You Know Your Pet Sitter Is Doing A Good Job?
Unfortunately, pets can’t talk. So unless they’re dead, lost, or visibly wounded, you can’t really know how their level of care was.
If you were paying for your pet sitter to come twice a day to feed your dog and cats, how do you know the sitter was really there? What’s easier for a sitter than coming to your house twice a day? Coming once a day and just cleaning up the poop your dog makes in the house. What’s easier than that? Coming every other day.
A local pet sitter told someone that a pet sitter has called her multiple times in the past to ask her to “sub out” pet sittings jobs she has.
In other words, after getting hired to take care of pets and for whatever reason she’s overbooked or can’t do it, she tried to have someone the pet/house owner has never met come to their house to do the work. Are you comfortable with that?
Does your pet sitter promise to take your dog for a long walk every day? How do you know that actually happens?
During the interview point them out to the prospect sitter, maybe gauge their reaction. No need for them to be secret or hidden.
The point isn't to catch abhorrent behavior, the point is to prevent it in the first place.
Even buying a couple of big, ugly, fake cameras with a bright red led and pointing them, obnoxiously obviously towards the door, pet area, back yard, etc., would have the desired effect… heck, they call ‘em pet cams.
At the most basic, you can set up a webcam that takes a snapshot every few seconds. And then, of course, tell the pet sitter about it. That’s half the point. Trust people, but follow up on them.
1. They're not going to sneak their friend over if there's a webcam set up.
2. They can't "just not show up" sometimes and figure it'll be OK .
3. They can't send someone else to do what they're supposed to do.
The bottom line is, most people behave better when they have to. Just like employees try to look busier when the boss is there, you need to keep your sitter on their toes as well.
Finally, have a safe and fun trip. And remember to bring your pet sitter's phone number in case your plans change - or you just want to find out how Fluffy and Fido are doing.
- Tips On Finding A Missing Pet (Hope you never need this!)
SHARING is CARING