How to Sniff Out the Right Pet Sitter

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When you travel without your pets, you have two options: board them at an expensive kennel, or hire a pet sitter. Pet sitters put less stress on your pets - but choose carefully. Here's how to find the right one.

August was a bad month for pet sitters. A Long Island pet sitter was arrested after being caught on camera burglarizing a home – after he’d been hired to take care of the pets there while the owner was on vacation. And in Canada, an employee at a pet-sitting business was charged with neglect after two cats in his care went missing and are presumed dead.

Thankfully, most pet sitters are responsible law-abiding citizens. But these arrests remind us that finding the right person to take care of our furry friends demands some attention.

As I noted in the video above, you can find excellent pet sitters for around $15 for $35 a day, but you should make sure they’re bonded, insured, and certified by a professional organization. And you should ask for references. A good place to start is with your veterinarian. (If you don’t have a good one, here’s How to Find a Vet.)

You can use your computer to find the right person. Pet Sitters International (PSI) offer a Pet Sitter Locator that can help you find a certified sitter in your area. PSI says its free online service is used by 30,000 pet owners a month. Also check the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters search tool – these organizations have slightly different listings.

And as I suggested in the video, it’s important that you ask for a face-to-snout interview with you and your pet. You want to make sure the two of them hit it off.

Finally, provide detailed instructions to your sitter. Are your pets allergic to anything? What do your pets like to eat, and when should they be eating it? Is your vet’s phone number in an easy-to-find location?

“Hiring a pet sitter is a serious process,” says Monica Leighton, President of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). “Not only are you placing your pet in the care of another individual, but you are also giving them regular access to your home. Safety should always be a top priority in the selection process.”

Stacy Johnson

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