This holiday season, pet owners are in a scramble to find someone to take care of their pets. The first concern that often comes to mind is cost. People want good VALUE for their dollar, but do they consider the VALUE they get from their pets?
Example: I received a call from an elderly pet owner in November who lived in a very wealthy neighborhood. She was referred by my vet. He normally used one of the technicians from our veterinary clinic to take care of his dog overnight, but they weren’t available during the holiday season. She asked me how much I charge and I told her $65 a night. She literally gasped on the phone and said she would call me back. Obviously, she is delighted that the technician takes care of her dogs at a lower cost. When her daughter convinced her to call back to reserve it because she had no other choice, she was already booked. They referred her to my affiliate who normally charges $75 a night! However, since I referred her, she would get the attention for my $65/night rate. This was explained to him. So why the price differences?
The technician who normally cares for the owners’ dog does it as a hobby for some extra money. His main source of income is working at the veterinary clinic. They are NOT bonded or insured or have a business license. They do not have a legitimate business that they operate on a professional level and pay taxes etc.
Example: I received a call from a lady on a Monday night who needed care for her dogs from Wednesday through Sunday night. She apparently, she had asked a friend to do it and they canceled 2 days before her departure. Now she is on a panicked quest to find a sitter for her dogs before she leaves. It was already booked and I couldn’t do it 2 days in advance so they again referred it to my affiliate.
The pet owner, in an attempt to save money, asked a friend or family member to take care of his dogs. That person has no obligation to her or contract, so it’s easy for them to cancel her or she may not even show up! A professional pet sitter will have a contract or service agreement that you sign. This unites them both in the care of their pets. You get the guarantee that they will take care of your pet and you promise to pay them for that care.
Example: A couple is planning several trips to Russia to adopt a baby. The wife works at home and is with her 3 cats most of the time. She is very concerned about her cats being left alone while traveling. They have to go to a seminar for 4 days as a step prior to their adoption. A co-worker of the husband volunteers to take care of the cats. Along the way, he doesn’t want to go down a spiral staircase to the basement to see the litter box area. The couple at the bottom of the stairs have to coax her down from it and show her an alternative stairway down. While they are away, several days have passed and they have not heard from the cat sitter. No text emails or calls. They finally decide to call her and she answers the phone. Tell them that she is in the house right now and that everything is fine. When they return home and walk through the front door, the smell overwhelms them. The litter boxes obviously hadn’t been cleaned in a few days. When she is asked about the litter boxes, the person says that she has cleaned them every day and even asks/offers to take care of the cats on her next trip.
Pet owners had a friend/co-worker do it to save some money and not knowing of any other options. Obviously, the person did not know how to properly care for cats. They had no idea if the person was actually there and showed up to take care of them while they were away. The person left evidence that the cat did not receive proper care, denied it, and then offered to care for the cats again. The pet owners saw a Shannon’s Pet Sitting sign near their home and realized this would be a better option to investigate.
Even if it’s a friend, family member, or kid next door looking to earn some extra cash, do you value the life and care of your pets to save a dollar? Do you want to wait for them to appear? Or do you expect them to take care of their pets properly? People forget, accidents happen and things come up. Chances are your pet is not your first priority.
For a professional pet sitter: your pet IS the priority!
A TRULY PROFESSIONAL pet sitter is:
4) Have PET CPR, First Aid, or some ANIMAL healthcare training
5) Use a service contract and pet information forms.
6) Has a website
7) Has references
8) Has a secure key system or safe deposit box
9) Has experience and knowledge in working with animals.
10) Makes a consultation to meet with you and review your pet care routine
11) Texts, calls or emails with regular updates with photos of your pet while you are away
12) Book early – A good pet sitter is in high demand!
Now look at that list and consider how much more VALUE those items have when it comes to the VALUE of life and caring for your pets while you’re away.
The fewer items on the list, the less you’ll pay and the less chance your pet will receive good care while you’re away. The horror stories I have heard and seen over the years speak for themselves. The above stories are just a small handful of recent examples within a month period that I have heard!
When you look at websites like Care.com and Sittercity.com, there are literally HUNDREDS of people posted there who want to care for pets. They are college kids, retired, unemployed, men, women, teens and they ALL LOVE PETS, HAVE HAD PETS AND WOULD LOVE TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET! What I’ve seen as a result of these sites: People are looking for the cheapest pet care possible. I could send them the best possible resume in terms of being a professional pet care provider! Then the minute they hear my rates, the emails and contact stops.
Pet sitters seem to be a dime a dozen. It’s a quick and easy way for a person who likes animals to earn some extra money in today’s economy. The quick, easy and cheap way could endanger the lives of your pets. Is it worth your life to save a few bucks? As a client of mine repeatedly tells me, “Peace of mind is priceless!”