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HOW TO CHOOSE A PET CARE PROVIDER

In this article I am going to offer some honest advice to anyone looking for a pet sitter who will treat their pet well and keep their home safe and secure.  After spending years studying best practices, building up a business from scratch, attending business seminars and experiencing setbacks I feel that I have learned a few things along the way.

There are many horror stories about things that can go wrong in a pet visit.  Often times, this is because a person decides one day to call them self a pet sitter without any idea of what it entails and no training other than a love of pets.   I hope to help you avoid those scary experiences.  By describing exactly what a professional pet care company should offer you will be better equipped to pick the right one for your family.

What to avoid in a potential pet sitter:

  • When you are shopping around, be sure to choose a company that is dedicated to pets – there are several in the Tri-City area.  A company that also does yard work and runs a delivery service is not going to be focused on your pet care needs.  We do not recommend asking a friend or family member.  Many times we get asked to step in after that friend becomes ill or gets too busy – and this is a confusing situation for the pets. 
  • As much as you may want to help a teenager out with a job, a young person (under age 18) is not equipped to handle all the challenges that can come up when working with pets.  We always recommend that teenagers volunteer with a rescue group to gain animal experience.
  • Are you considering hiring a person who says they “recently worked for” a local boarding facility, pet sitter, groomer or vet?  We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you call the business they worked for and make sure that this person left on good terms.  I cannot stress this enough:  there may be a good reason this person is no longer working there!  
  • Is the person you are considering hiring “just starting out”?  As a minimum requirement, they should still have liability insurance that is specific to the pet industry (homeowners insurance will not cover pet sitting accidents).  Ask to see proof!
  • Does the person you are considering have a back-up plan for if they become ill or have a family emergency?  If they cannot complete a visit will your dog be stuck in their crate until you can locate someone to check on her?  Will this back-up person have a key to enter your house?  Always ask about their “Back-up Plan”.

What to expect from a Professional Pet Care Company:

Rescue Pets:

Many pets have had a rough start in life.  Perhaps they were in a shelter before joining your family and are especially anxious when they need to go to a kennel for boarding.  Some rescue pets are also extremely nervous around strangers; especially when they walk into your home. A professional pet sitters is trained and has many hours of experience working with pets with special needs.  Are you considering adopting a Rescue pet? Some organizations will even ask you what you plan to do for pet care.

Puppies:

Are your kids asking for a puppy?  Are you reluctant because you don’t want that fluffy cuteness to spend long days in his crate?  Did you know that dogs are often destructive until age two?  Consider having your pet sitter do two shorter visits (mid-morning and mid-afternoon) until their pet is 1 – 2 years old and then go to one walk a day after it is more mature.   A mid-day walk can provide enough mental stimulation to take the place of destructive activities (and save your pillows)!  A tired dog is a GOOD dog!

Senior pet care:

Does your older dog sleep a lot?  Even your senior dog would love a gentle walk around the yard.  Older dogs will often “hold it” all day or even avoid drinking because it’s so much work to relieve themselves (we have heard that humans do this too).  A pet sitter will encourage a drink of fresh water mid-day with a quick visit outside.  A mid-day break can help avoid expensive bladder infections and provide some mental stimulation and hugs.  Paula’s Pet Sitting offers a “Single Dog Quick Stop” service especially suited to your senior pet.

Retired and rarely travel:

What is your favorite weekend activity (other than playing with your pet of course)?  Do you enjoy a day in Frankenmuth, fishing on Sanford Lake, a trip to Birch Run Outlet Mall or seasons tickets to your favorite sports team?  Maybe you have an upcoming family wedding or birth of a grandchild?  Schedule a Meet and Greet ahead of time so that later all you need to do is request a pet visit (make sure it is confirmed) and then GO!  No need to rush home and miss the fun. Do you only leave town on major holidays?  A reputable pet care company is open 365 days a year with NO blackout dates! Yep – pet sitters NEVER go on vacation!

Medication Administration:

Pet sitters are trained to do a “Nose to Tail” check  on every pet in their care, every single time they arrive at a clients home.   If they see something amiss, you will first be contacted and then if necessary take your pet to your veterinarian for treatment.  Additionally, all professional pet sitters will be trained in administering medications such as  insulin injections, trans-dermal ointment, pills and sprays. 

Home Security:

A home that has a lot of activity is less likely to be targeted by thieves.  A pet sitter can open/close curtains and turn off/on lights to make your home appear lived in and busy.  They will also will alert you to smoke, propane gas leaks, chirping smoke detectors, burst water pipes, flooding, furnace / air conditioner quitting or broken windows while you are away.  And there’s more!!  While doing a visit they can water plants, bring in the Amazon boxes, the paper or mail and take trash cans to the curb on trash day.

Pet Taxi:

Check to see if your new Pet Sitter can take your pet wherever they need to go:  The boarding kennel, Grandma’s house, a Vet appointment, the groomers or even Doggy Daycare.   

Multiple pets:

Does your family want to add a new pet to the family?  Many pet sitting companies don’t charge any more money for multiples; they charge based on the amount of time you want spent in your home. Not only does Paula’s Pet Sitting take care of dogs and cats, but we also take care of rodents, birds and fish at a shorter visit called the “Cats/Pocket pets only Quick Stop Visit“.

Temporary Care:

Do you or a loved one have an upcoming medical procedure?  A professional pet sitter will walk your dog even when the weather is not so great so that you don’t have to.  If you are facing some health challenges a pet professional can help with short term pet care while you recuperate.

Elderly family member pet care:

Unfortunately, many pets are surrendered to a shelter because their owner is no longer capable of caring for their pet.  A pet sitter can help your loved one continue enjoying the benefit of their companion pet long past their ability to care for it.  Additionally, many of the older generation are not computer savvy.  A pet sitting company can assist the older parent get signed up online and with their permission, have visit alerts go to an online family member. Not only do we take care of their beloved pet, but we can also alert family members to any concerns going on with their loved one.    

Peace of mind:

Have you ever hired the neighbor kid down the street to walk your dog or feed your cat while you were away?  Did you wonder what time they were there or if your cat came out from under the bed?  Did your dog get in a good walk every day?  Our pet sitters are tracked through GPS; when they check out of a visit you will see the exact route of their dog walk and even where they went while in your house via a Google map. Additionally you will see the exact time of check in and check out of the visit.

Quality staffing:

The pet sitters at Paula’s Pet Sitting take ongoing training through an online program called “FetchFind”.  Additionally, every one of our pet sitters have recently completed the Red Cross Cat and Dog 1st Aid training.  Our pet sitters are liability insured and bonded.  If we accidentally break something in your home our insurance will cover that.  Our background checks include state, national and sex offender registry checks to include local arrest records. We conduct random UA drug testing.  Our office manager, Amy, monitors the staff online throughout the weekdays and Paula monitors in the evenings and weekends. If something seems “Off” – we check into it right away!

We may be biased, but we feel that Paula’s Pet Sitting is the BEST place to trust with the care of your pet and the security of your home.  We have been in business since 2015 and are a full time pet care company who provides a living for 10 people. We use an extremely comprehensive software package to manage our visits, pet information, scheduling and invoicing; to sign up for services, please follow this link.  We take our jobs very seriously and often develop a very close relationship with our clients and their pets.  Please contact us at any time if you have more questions or if you have a special need. We may be able to tailor our services to meet your pet care needs.  

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