Many people would not dream of taking a vacation without their pets. However it is not always practical or possible to bring our pets with us. In order for us to be happy on our vacation we want to be sure our pets are happy, healthy and safe while we are away.
As creatures of habit, our animal companions fare best when adhering to their regular daily routines regarding diet, exercise and sleep. An experienced and reliable pet sitter can keep our pets happy and healthy while weâ€™re away. But just how do we go about finding this magical being to be entrusted with the care of our beloved pets? Following are 10 tips to find the perfect pet sitter:
1) Make a list of everything you need in a sitter and a list of the needs of your pet. Will the pet sitter simply need to exercise, feed, provide fresh water and play with your pet? Does your pet require any medications? Do you have plants that need to be watered, mail and newspapers to be taken in and other household duties that need to be discussed?
2) Get recommendations from friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Ask what functions they have their pet sitter perform while they are away. Are these consistent with what you will require?
3) Seek recommendations from your veterinarian and vet techs. Some provide pet sitting services or they may be able to recommend a reputable pet sitter.
4) Contact NAPPS (National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) for referrals. NAPPS offers a certification program for qualified prospective pet sitters.
5) Speak with employees of your local pet store for recommendations. They may offer dog socialization and obedience classes, and the trainers themselves may be available to pet sit or know of qualified people to do the job.
6) Your local animal welfare or rescue organization may know of capable, caring, professional people who pet sit.
7) Meet with a potential pet sitter before you go on vacation. Familiarize him with the pet(s) he will be caring for as well as your home. Watch how the pet sitter takes to your pet and how your pet takes to him or her.
8) Write down detailed information about his responsibilities so that he can refer to them whenever necessary. Also provide him with contact information, phone numbers and addresses of your vet, friends and neighbors who can help out if necessary.
9) Make sure he is licensed and bonded and has excellent references and experience.
10) Make certain he is able to handle an emergency and is aware of the phone number and location of the nearest veterinary emergency hospital as well as your vet’s office.
Animal Behavior Expert Diane Pomerance, PhD, is author of thebook, Our Rescue Dog Family Album. She works closely with the SPCA of Texas, K-9 Friends Visiting Therapy Dogs of GTDOG, and the Alaskan Malamute Assistance League.