The Pet Sitting Predicament

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on April 16, 2007

I worry every time I go out of town and leave my pets with a “sitter”. Will the sitter feed them the correct amount? Will they let them out when they need to go potty? Will “the kids” behave?

Normally, I hire professional pet sitters from a pet sitting service that came recommended by my veterinarian. I know the owner of the pet sitting business, as she is a veterinary technician with the office I take my pets to. This comforts me in knowing that she is not only knowledgeable about animals but also kind in her interactions with them. I trust her with my “kids.”

Recently, I recommended my pet sitter to a friend. She wasn’t available but “Kathy,” a college student that she had hired onto her staff, was. Kathy had also stayed at my house before and cared for my pets. It seemed to go fine without incident. Unfortunately, my friend did not have the same experience. Kathy didn’t care for my friend’s pets as she should have and in turn, one of his dogs required emergency veterinary care. Thankfully, all turned out okay and his dog only required an overnight visit at the vet for observation. But this incident left me with questions. Did everything go okay when she stayed at my house? How do I really know? One of my cats is now blind in one eye from when one of my pet sitters (before my current one) neglected to take my injured cat to the vet when he needed to go. The only reason we know she was negligent was because of the physical evidence. How many negligent actions haven’t left a mark?

The Actionline alert ALDF recently posted to the website regarding a Cornell student who allegedly severely beat and doused with bleach a friend’s dog he was caring for is a nightmare come true for any pet guardian. While feeling enormous amounts of sympathy for Princess, the victim, and her guardian, the fear of something like this happening to my pets sent a chill through me. What steps can be taken to help ensure your pets are being properly cared for when you need to leave them with a friend or pet sitter? I don’t have all of the answers, but here are a few things I do when having a pet sitter staying at my house to care for my kids:

  • Know who is caring for your pets. If you have a pet sitter from a service that you haven’t met before, meet with them and watch how they interact with your pets. Go through your routines with the pet sitter.
  • Leave instructions. I go as far as writing down what “commands” I use with my dogs, our feeding routine, and personalities of each pet. (My notes are almost 5 pages long. Don’t worry about giving too much info!)
  • Know when the pet sitter is supposed to be at your house caring for your pets and call to check in.
  • Let a neighbor or friend know a pet sitter will be staying at your house and ask them to be available if you need them to stop by your house to check in on the pet sitter and your companion animals.

One thought on “The Pet Sitting Predicament

  1. Garett says:

    I agree with you and have the same feelings whenever I go out of town.

    I work at a veterinary hospital, and hate to leave my dogs at the kennel.

    At the same time, I am fearful that they will not be taken care of properly by the pet sitter.

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