Unfortunately and sadly we are hearing more and more pet sitting horror stories since online dog walking and pet sitting apps have come onto the scene. Many pet owners around the country have reported that their pet was lost or died in the care of negligent pet sitters. Pet owners have reported arriving home early at their home to find their possessions being loaded onto a moving truck by their pet sitters. Pet owners have viewed their pets being beaten or hit on security cameras.
I’ve also heard personal stories from my clients of their prior pet sitter throwing a huge party while they were away. One client revealed that they saw their pet sitter on their security camera bring in multiple guests and do drugs in their home while also drugging their dog. These stories are horrific and unfortunately they are continuing to happen.
One of the challenges is that there aren't any formal certifications required to be a professional pet sitter. Plus, there are no organizations that oversee pet sitting companies. That wasn't too big of a deal in the past. However, now there are tech company apps like Rover and Wag that have popped up and that allow anyone to set up an account and start offering pet sitting services to the public. Unfortunately, these pet sitters receive minimal training/oversight and criminal background checks are only performed once and do not include any criminal animal activity.
Please understand that I am in no way saying that all of these pet sitters found on these sites are negligent or performing illegal activity. My goal is simply to educate the community and to help pet owners make informed decisions while calculating all the risks involved.
Here are several tips to help you avoid your own pet sitting horror story.
7 Tips To Help You Avoid A Pet Sitting Horror Story
1) Avoid Purely Price Shopping
When you are searching for your pet sitter a budget is important to keep in mind, but you NEVER want to hire a pet sitter based on finding the cheapest rates. Your pets and homes are valuable and if you are looking for the cheapest option you will most likely run into issues at some point.
Many pet owners enlist the trust of a neighborhood teenager, and while this can be cost effective, it can come at a price. The truth is that teenagers, while often well meaning, are still developing skills. Science says that their brains are literally still developing and they don’t always make the best decisions, especially in emergency situations.
I personally belong to several professional pet sitting groups and we share stories that we hear. We've heard stories of teenagers that forgot to take care of dogs for 5 days, doors that had been left open or not properly locked, and sadly, even lost pets.
In the end it is prudent to hire a professional pet sitter who does this for a living.
2) Hire A Professional Pet Sitter Who Is Insured & Bonded
It is very important to make sure you are hiring a professional pet sitter that is insured and bonded.
Depending on the size of the company, rates for liability insurance start around $500 per year and go up substantially from there, so it shows a level of professionalism from your sitter. You also want to make sure your professional pet sitter has a dishonesty bond. This added assurance will help you cover any costs of stolen or damaged property and cover the costs of any illness or death to your pet in the event that your pet sitter was negligent.
Always request to see this documentation and verify the dates on these documents.
3) Check Online Reviews
Always, do your homework and check online reviews. Reviews are so important to take a look at. Of course, you'll want to see that a business has nearly all positive reviews.
But, you'll also want to read any negative reviews and see if the company responded and how they responded. You can learn a great deal about a business by seeing how they approach negative feedback. Were they professional in their response? Did they take responsibility if a mistake was made?
4) Always Schedule A "Meet & Greet" Before You Leave Town Or Hire A Dog Walker
It boggles my mind, but some pet owners don’t think to make sure they meet their pet sitter before entrusting them with access to their home and their pets.
You should never consider hiring a pet sitter that is willing to enter your home without first requiring a meet and greet. This is a huge red flag. It's incredibly important to make sure you and your pet are comfortable with this person.
You can tell a lot about a person by how they conduct themselves at an in person interview with you and your pets. Your pet sitter should be professional, warm, pleasant, genuine, caring and ask the right questions. They should gather all important information about what your pets routine is and where they can find everything. They should also answer all of your questions and reassure you that they will take excellent care of your home and pets.
5) Hire A Pro Who Uses Pet Sitting Software
This will most likely not be on your radar at all, but this really says a great deal about a pet sitter. Pet Sitting software is now accessible to pet sitters and a fantastic way for pet sitters to manage their business.
At Pure Love Pet Sitting we use a software program that houses all of our clients information including pet routines, vet contact information, emergency contact information and more. With GPS tracking, you can actually see that your sitter came to your house and you can even see where they walked your dog if you'd like. Plus, through our software we send you real time photos of your pet and send you a report after every visit.
Everything is kept confidential and is password protected. Our software even has an app that allows us to review everything at your fingertips. Also, it shows that the business is professional, they take confidentiality seriously, and they are willing to invest their money into a software solution to house all of this information.
6) Make Sure Your Sitter Has An Emergency Plan For Natural Disasters, Illness, Personal Emergencies, etc.
Always find out how emergencies are handled in the event your pet sitter is unable to perform the job right before or after the job begins. Does your sitter have a backup plan if they get sick or have a family emergency?
We frequently get calls, emails and texts requesting last minute services because someone's planned-upon pet sitter was no longer able to perform the job that they agreed to. Of course this can cause a great deal of stress for pet owners that have bought plane tickets, reserved hotels, and have travel plans just days away.
Another aspect of emergency pet care to consider is what do you do in case there is a natural disaster while you are away from your pets. This can and does happen. So depending on where you live be sure to talk about what will be done in the event there is such an event while you are away.
7) Search Social Media By Personal & Company Name
It’s a good idea to learn more about your pet sitter by searching their name on all social media platforms. You can tell a great deal about your pet sitter based on what they post on their social media personal and business accounts. Many companies now do this before they even think about hiring someone for their company and you should take this into consideration too. What do they post about? Are they polite? Do they post loving photos of them with pets and animals? Do they look professional in their profile photos? What types of people are interacting with them? These are all important questions to ask yourself when conducting your search.
There are a lot of great people out there who really love animals and can take great care of them. However, when you hire a truly professional pet sitter you can reduce a great deal of stress and remove a great deal of potential risk that can go along with hiring a pet sitter.
We truly hope you found this article helpful in your search. Please feel free to share this on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or NextDoor. We are hoping to help educate our communities and keep pets and homes safe.