There are occasions when it’s necessary to leave your pets in the care of someone else, however distasteful you might find the idea. Vacations, business trips, family emergencies – all these call for having an alternative arrangement for your pets. If you aren’t terribly keen on leaving them at a boarding kennel, then a pet sitting service may be the answer. You have to choose carefully, however; considering that you’re leaving your pets – and home – with the sitter it’s important to know they can be trusted. Dr. Issam Kadri of Richmond Hill Animal Hospital provides a few tips for finding – and keeping – a good sitter:
Ask for Referrals
It’s always best to get referrals from someone you trust. Ask around with friends and family to find out if anyone knows of a pet sitter they would recommend. You can also ask your nearest pet store and your veterinarian. Many veterinarians in Richmond Hill are only too happy to recommend reliable individuals and services, and sometimes the veterinary technicians and groomers take on pet-sitting work to supplement their income. You can also search online for the names and websites of companies that offer pet sitting in your neighbourhood, and often you can view their rates on their sites.
Once you’ve spoken with a pet sitter or a service and obtained a quote, get references. No, we don’t mean you should believe the testimonials on their website from first-name only “satisfied clients.” Ask the representative you deal with for contact details for at minimum two references and call them up yourself. Any pet sitter worth their salt will be able and more than happy to provide references. This is particularly important if you’re thinking of hiring a private individual as opposed to a company, because chances are they aren’t bonded, police-checked and insured.
Do a Cross Check
Nothing beats a little inside intel, so don’t rule out doing a bit of cross-checking of your own. As we mentioned earlier, these are your pets and your home, for goodness’ sake! It’s not like you can take a chance on someone and just hope it will all work out. Search online for both the name of the person and the company, and see if anything unsavoury turns up. There have been people who claimed to be pet sitters but turned out to be really bad, so don’t take any chances.
Arrange a Visit
Nothing will clue you in to how the sitter is likely to care for your pets than to see him or her in action for yourself. Arrange a “meet and greet” visit for them to come to your home and see your pets in their natural environment. Anyone who seems irritated by your pet’s foibles in the first visit isn’t going to get any better when they have to look after them 24/7, trust me on that. Don’t use friends of friends and obscure relatives just because they “love animals,” either. Make sure your prospective sitter is someone with experience dealing with pets, a gentle way with them and a positive attitude to the work you want them to do.
The good pet sitters are booked up, sometimes months in advance. They also often have regular clients who use their services every year around the same time, so if you want to make sure you get the sitter of your choice you have to book well ahead. You may be required to pay a non-refundable deposit, too – this is to ensure that you don’t cancel at the last minute leaving the sitter without work, after he or she has turned down multiple gigs because of your booking.
Accidents happen! When you go, make sure the sitter has your contact info, the info of your veterinarian in Richmond Hill in case your pet needs emergency care, and the details of a trusted third party. Check in periodically to make sure all is well – not just with your pets, but with your sitter, too!