Hiring a pet sitter isn’t easy. Choosing one person to be solely responsible for the health and happiness of your pets while you’re traveling is nerve-wracking at best. Making the wrong choice can be disastrous. Pet sitting horror stories abound on the web and around the water cooler. Most of the time, pet sitters behave responsibly, their duties are easy and the pet parent’s return home is uneventful. But if an emergency should occur in your absence, your pet sitter’s experience and instincts make a big difference. To hire the kind of pet sitter who’ll do the right thing in a crisis, try asking these questions.
Do you have any veterinary experience?
Many excellent pet sitters have been veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants or at least interned in the veterinary field. Experience working in a vet clinic means a pet sitter likely knows how to stay calm in the event of an emergency and will know when a veterinarian is needed.
Have you obtained pet first aid training?
Basic pet first aid training is a must-have for any pet sitter. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter who didn’t know CPR, would you? Don’t hire a pet sitter who doesn’t understand first aid for pets.
Are you licensed, bonded and insured?
This question separates professionals from people looking to make a little extra money pet sitting. Professional pet sitters are licensed, bonded and insured for their own protection and your peace of mind.
Have you ever dealt with a veterinary emergency while pet sitting? How did you respond?
Pay close attention to the pet sitter’s answer. Make sure that they used pet first aid to stabilize the pet, attempted to contact the owner and headed to the owner’s preferred emergency vet immediately. A pet sitter who’s never dealt with an emergency is likely not very experienced, or maybe just very lucky.
What would you do if a pet went missing while you were pet sitting?
Sometimes this worst-case scenario does happen, even to the most responsible pet sitters in the world. A break-in or natural disaster could cause a pet to run away from home. Your successful candidate should respond that he or she would contact the owner, call Animal Control, check all the local shelters and notify local veterinarians. The sitter should also offer to place flyers around the neighborhood at the owner’s discretion.