Petsitter or Boarding Kennel? Part Two

Petsitters and boarding kennels each have advantages and disadvantages for pets staying behind while owners travel. Yesterday we examined the pros and cons of choosing a boarding facility. Today, we’ll do the same for petsitters.

Some petsitters will care for your pet in their home. Others will come to your home for one or more visits each day and care for your pets in the environment to which they are accustomed. Petsitters run the gamut from adult business owners who are self-employed, bonded and insured, and may even employ others, to teenagers looking for spending money.

Petsitter

Pros:

  • In-home petsitters help keep pets’ stress levels down while pet parents are away by not removing pets from a familiar environment.
  • One can sometimes find a petsitter who is a veterinary technician and capable of caring for pets with special needs, like diabetic animals which need injections daily.
  • If your pets are fairly easy to care for, a neighborhood teenager or pre-teen may be capable of handling the job, and much less expensive than an adult professional or a boarding facility.
  • The same person will be caring for your pet each day, unless you use a large service with many employees.
  • If a petsitter practices good hygiene and declines pets suffering from a contagious illness, the risk that your pet will contract an infection is much less than it would be at a boarding facility.

Cons:

  • Anyone can hang up a shingle, so to speak, and call him or herself a professional petsitter. Boarding kennels require an initial investment from the owner, which at least gives the owner some extra financial incentive to keep clients happy.
  • Using an in-home petsitter requires giving a stranger access to your home.
  • Using a petsitter who takes your pets to his or her house presents some risks both for you and your pet: The petsitter might have other pets that aren’t compatible with yours, and your pet could damage the sitter’s property or bite a guest, making you possibly liable for damages.
  • Not all petsitters carry adequate personal liability insurance.
  • If you choose to hire a neighborhood child or teenager to watch your pets, you could be liable for damages if they are injured while caring for your pets, since a child is not a professional accepting an inherent risk involved in petsitting.

If a petsitter is the right choice for you, begin by deciding whether to hire a professional or simply offer a friend or neighborhood teenager the job. If your pets have unusual needs either behaviorally or medically, go with a professional. If you’ll be hiring a professional petsitter, look for one who is licensed, bonded, and insured. Ask for references, and make sure that the petsitter visits your pets and gets along well with them before you leave on your vacation.

Always sign a written contract for the petsitter’s services, whether it’s a neighborhood teenager or a businessperson. The contract can be as simple as a few sentences stating what work will be performed and how much will be paid, but you need one to protect yourself and your petsitter.

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