A reader: My husband and I are going on our first cruise. We have decided to leave Bella, our family pet, with a pet sitter. I’ve never done this before. I don’t want her to be traumatized.
I’d like to have someone come to my home so that she can stay there. I’m really nervous about letting a stranger into my house. I also want to make sure that Bella is well cared for in our absence.
How do I know they really will come in twice a day to feed and walk her? How do I know it is safe to let a pet sitter into my home?
Action Line: You sound like a caring woman who cares for Bella. Hiring a pet sitter is just like hiring any other professional. You need to do your homework and not be afraid to ask questions. Just as with any other purchase or service, price alone is not a reason to choose a sitter.
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Start with bbb.org for a list of accredited businesses. Then check with your veterinarian. Ask for recommendations and be specific about your requirements. Do you want someone who comes in twice a day? Does the sitter need to let Bella out into the yard or does she need to go for a walk in the neighborhood? Does she require any medications? Will the pet sitter need to groom her?
After you get recommendations, call each one and ask for references and actually call those references. Ask how often they have used a particular sitter and what was required on a daily basis. Ask how the pet was – other than being lonely for its humans – when they came home.
Meet with each pet sitter personally and introduce them to Bella – after all, her opinion counts as well.
You can always check with your pet-owning friends and family. Other animal lovers will be just as cautious about recommending someone if they are not truly satisfied with the level of service they received from their pet sitter.
Once you select a sitter, make sure you spell out all responsibilities in writing. Be sure to leave emergency numbers and notify your vet about who is watching Bella while you are gone. It’s also a good idea to let your neighbors know to watch for the sitter on a regular basis and casually let the sitter know the neighbors are there if needed.
Good pet sitters are bonded, so you don’t have to worry about your house. But good pet sitters are also in high demand, so act quickly to get the one you – and Bella – really like.
If you do your homework, you will likely come home to a pet who is delighted to see you and who has been well taken care of in your absence. These tips should help you enjoy your cruise, worry free.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.