Hiring a sitter to check in on your pet and home while you're away is a way to ensure your pet and home is well-cared for and secure in your absence. Hiring a sitter also allows your pet to stay in their own environment where they feel most comfortable.
According to a nationwide Angie's List poll: Nearly 80 percent of respondents own a pet.
Pet/House Sitters: Common Services
• Provide fresh food and water
• Walks and/or yard play
• Cat litter scooping
• Provide medications
• Bring in mail/newspaper/packages
• Take out garbage
• Water plants
• Turn on/off different lights
Highly rated pet sitters on Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, caution pet owners to thoroughly review any animal sitter they plan on inviting into their home. They say prospective clients who take the proper steps to find a good cat or dog sitter can avoid coming home to empty water bowls, puddles of urine, sick pets or laundry baskets used as litter boxes.
Angie's List Tips: Hiring a Pet Sitter
• Check referrals and references: Ask for references and then follow up with them. Ask what kind of pet they have, what services were provided, how long they've been clients and any other pertinent questions that relate to the service your pet will be getting.
• Is the sitter bonded and insured? Ask to see a certificate of insurance.
• Ask about employees: If the company employs more than one person, ask if the same person will be caring for your pet every day. Many larger companies use several different employees for the same client, so your pet may see a different person every day. Make sure you understand what happens if that pet sitter is suddenly unavailable. You need to know that they've got a quality backup plan in place.
• Ask about training: Find out how employees are trained. A good pet care company will have a formal training program to ensure quality control and consistency. Do they have first aid training so they'll know what to do in an emergency?
• In-home visit: Have the pet sitter visit you and your pet at home before making a hiring decision. Make sure you and your pet are comfortable with the sitter you hire. Ask whether the sitter you're meeting is the only sitter who will be entering your home while you are away.
• How are costs determined? Most professional sitters charge between $15 and $50 per visit, depending on the distance traveled, length of the visit, and duties required. Visits can range from as little as 20 or 30 minutes to staying in the house overnight.
• Inform the sitter: Clearly communicate your pets' needs, including daily routines, medical issues and emergency plans. Be specific as possible.
• In case of emergency: A professional sitter should have an emergency protocol in case of an emergency with your home or pet.
• Read the fine print: Understand the services the sitter will provide, including frequency of visits. Make sure you're comfortable with the sitter's plans for taking care of your pet.
• Stay updated: Pet owners and sitters should discuss communication plans in advance. How will the pet sitter keep in contact with your while you're away? Provide the sitter with a list of emergency contacts and service providers of anyone who has access to the home.