Why a Professional Pet Sitting Company

why a professional poet sitter

You have three basic choices when you’re going to be away from home for a pet sitter:

  • Leave your pets in the care of a neighbor, friend or teen
  • Hire a solo pet sitter who does all the care, visiting and interaction themselves
  • Hire a professional pet sitting company with multiple trained providers

When you leave home, you need to know that your pets are in good hands, that they’ll be cared for as promised and that your provider will know what to do in the event of an emergency. You also need to know that the provider will show up, even if there is an emergency, and that they’ll treat your home and pets with respect and care. Which option is best for your needs? A look at the benefits and drawbacks of each care model can help you decide.

Hire a Friend, Neighbor or Teen

At first glance, this seems like an easy answer to the pet sitting problem; after all, your neighbor or a friend are just a phone call away. That teen down the street has mowed your lawn and is actively looking for odd jobs. While this approach is often the most convenient when it comes to planning and scheduling, it does have some significant drawbacks. When you leave home, you leave your pet totally in someone else’s care. If they can’t make it, forget or life simply gets in the way, then your cat could easily slip out the door – and your dog could end up spending a lonely weekend trapped in his crate or in one part of the house.

  • It’s easy:  Just track them down and ask
  • It’s cheap: None of these individuals are likely to charge much

You have no way of knowing how well they’ll care for your pet: You see them regularly, but unless your friend is also a professional pet sitter with a few coworkers, they could run into trouble when it comes to caring for your pet, particularly if they have different views on pet care. You keep your indoor cat safe by making sure she doesn’t get out, but if that teen down the street grew up with inside/outside cats, he’ll have no problem letting her outside. She could get lost, struck by a car or even picked up and delivered to a shelter.

They have no backup plan: What happens when your friend’s child gets appendicitis? Or if the teen down the street gets invited away for the weekend – or your neighbor has to work? Your pet is not their primary job, and could get shuffled to the side if something else comes up.

What happens in an emergency?  These casual helpers are well meaning, but since they have no procedures in place for dealing with illness or emergency, they won’t have any idea what to do if something goes wrong.

What about your home? Do you want a teen and potentially a few friends wandering through your home when you’re not there? Your friend is likely trustworthy, but would they know what to do if they broke something in your home? None of these convenient helpers is bonded and insured, so you’ll be left worrying and hoping nothing goes wrong.

The Bottom Line

Hiring an acquaintance, local teen or even a friend is never a good idea. If something goes wrong, they won’t know what to do for your pet and your home – and if their idea of pet care differs from yours, your pet could be in for a rough week. Even worse, if you are not happy with the care your pet received, your relationship with your neighbor or friend could suffer as a result. Avoid this messy situation and hire a professional instead. You’ll get peace of mind and know your pet is being well cared for.

Hiring a Solo Pet Sitter

This option is a little better than hiring a friend, but there are still some drawbacks, primarily in training, coverage and professionalism.

  • A business effort: The pet sitter is trying to earn money and wants to get a good referral or repeat business, so will hopefully do a good job.
  • Better care: Someone who makes pet sitting a business is likely into animals and already has some experience watching pets

They have no backup: The biggest issue with a solo provider is the lack of backup – you run into the same issues when there is an emergency on their part. Many solo pet sitters use family members as backups, so you might end up with a teen, sibling or spouse instead of the person you hired if they have a conflict.

They may not be as dedicated as you think: You can get a set of business cards that say you’re a pet sitter for under $10. Just because someone hands you a card or even places an ad doesn’t mean they are a professional sitting business. Proceed with caution, particularly if the sitter has no references or their references are all their personal family members and friends.

They may not know what to do if something goes wrong: Can the sitter recognize the signs of trouble in your pet? Do they have training? If they have simply started a business because they like animals, they may not have any idea of what your pet needs.

They may not specialize: A sitter may be able to look after your cat, but what about your parrot, rabbit or chameleon? If they have no experience with these animals, you’ll be leaving your treasured pets with a novice.

They may not be insured: A pet sitter should have liability insurance; if something goes wrong, will you be covered? If they don’t have a policy, you won’t be.

The Bottom Line

A solo pet sitter is a step in the right direction, but still not an ideal option. You may also end up paying market rates – but getting limited services. Most individuals charge the same rates as professional pet sitting businesses, but don’t offer the same benefits, so you get less value for your money.

A Professional Pet Sitting Business

Your best option, because sitters are vetted and trained for the job. A professional business has clear protocols in place for any emergency, trained backup sitters on hand and is fully licensed, bonded and insured for your protection.

  • Peace of Mind: You can go away knowing your pet is in good hands
  • Emergency protocols in place: A professional has already been trained and knows what to look for when they care for your pet. The business will have protocols already in place if your pet seems unwell and will notify you immediately. In an emergency, they will act and get your pet seen right away instead of taking a “wait and see” approach.
  • Standardized care: A professional pet sitter will be trained and arrive with everything they need to care for your pet. Each visit will have a checklist of items to be completed and you can be sure that your pet will be attended to, from a clean, full water bowl to plenty of play and exercise time. This is their job, so the pro doesn’t need to rush.
  • Special care available: Professional pet sitting teams have pet specific experts on hand, so if you have a turtle, rabbit or other unusual pet, someone who is familiar with that breed or species will be their caregiver. You don’t have to worry about relying on someone who is squeamish to feed your snake while you’re away.
  • Licensed, bonded and insured: If something gets broken in your home, a professional is insured; if a game of “chase the laser pointer” gets too active and your cat knocks something over, you’re covered.
  • 100% coverage: A pet sitting business has multiple providers and if someone gets sick, has a family emergency or can’t make it, another trained professional will be dispatched. You’ll get peace of mind, knowing your pet is always in good hands.
  • Surprisingly affordable: Most pet sitting businesses offer competitive rates – so you can secure a team of professionals for the same cost as an unskilled or solo sitter.

None – unless you have trouble finding a professional pet sitting business in your location!

The Bottom Line

Taking the time to research your options and understanding the factors that make a pet sitting business the best choice will allow you to make the best decision for your pet and give you peace of mind while you travel.  Barking Life is also a member of Pet Sitters International.  Learn more about the professional pet sitting and in home cat and dog boarding services that Barking Life Pet Concierge offers here.