Top Ten Tips on Finding a Qualified and Professional Pet Sitters

by Deb Morrison / Pet Owner Advice / 5 Feb 2017

Tips on how to find a professional pet sitter

Have a trip away and can’t find anyone to look after your pet?  More Australians are favouring Pet Sitting Service websites for the speed and easy convenience they offer. We give you tips on what to look for so that you are able to find a qualified and professional pet sitter in a shorter amount of time.

These services provide a range of options to suit the style of pet and the care they need, while having reviews from past Pet Owners to help you base your decision on.  This is a welcome relief given many of us don’t live near family to help with our pets and our hectic lifestyles and work demands mean lots of regular short trips away are needed, often at late notice. Not to mention when we need to be away from our furry loved ones for extended periods due to illness or ‘trips of a lifetime’.

1.    Research the Company.

Check if the parent company registered with ASIC and has an ABN?  Use an Australian trusted website that keeps their Pet Sitters Accountable, displays Pet Owner experience reviews on each Sitters listing, covers every Sitter with $10M liability insurance, and does the verifying of identity documents & background checks for you. Pet Sitters need support when they do their job as sometimes unexpected things can happen. So you need to research the company who will support your sitter.

The company should:
•    Offer 7-day per week telephone and e-mail support for both you as a Pet Owner and the Sitter
•    Ask you for your pet’s identity info, medical and behavioural history, as well as veterinary and other emergency contact information and passes this Pet record onto the Sitter.
•    Have “backup” Sitters in place should your sitter have an emergency that prevents them from completing your booking.
•    Be partnered with a Vet Network and Animal Welfare organisation. That way if anything unexpected happens during the stay, they have extra support and expert advice they can call upon.
•    Have an Accredited Pet Sitting training program available to support their pet sitters. 
•    Make Background checks mandatory for any Sitters who have access to the Owners home & keys while they are away.
•    Explain clearly what ‘verified’ or ‘screened’ means. Using the words ‘Screened Sitters’ is not enough. What does ‘screened’ mean? A phone call? An email verification?

2.    Find out what Services the Pet Sitter provides

•    Pet Sitters (care at a Sitters home): Recommended if you have 1-2 dogs that need care
•    House Sitters (come to stay in your home): Recommended for Pet Owners who have multiple pets or large pets.
•    Daily Visits (These are call-ins to your home 1-2 times per day): Upon recommendation through Vets at the RSPCA, through PetCloud we only offer call in visits to dogs for a period of 48 hours. Any longer than that, dogs tend to get a little anxious and may bark or howl and may become destructive in their behaviour and may even try to escape to find their owners.
•    Some Sitters offer additional care services such as Pet Taxis (to take pets to the vet to get vaccinations up to date, get de-sexing done or to take them to the groomers), Dog Walking, Dog Grooming, and Dog Training.

3.    Read through reviews & references that other pet owners have left on the Sitters Listing. 

Do they seem honest & reliable reviews of the person?

4.    Ask what qualifications & experience the Pet Sitter has.

If the Pet Sitter has done a learning course, any Accreditations need to be from a recognised institution or a widely respected animal welfare organisation such as the RSPCA who employ Veterinary staff. Find out what any badges mean on their profile. Some unprofessional pet sitting companies award sitters a badge on their profile for doing a course on how to use their own website!  The RSPCA Qld Accredited course teaches Pet Sitters how to; Decrease the risk of dog fights, Handle emergency situations, Understand diet & exercise needs, Transport pets safely, Do basic grooming care, Understand expected standards of dog & cat care. Anyone who has this accreditation has also had an animal cruelty history check done on them and the certificate and badge will not be issued without passing this check.

5.    Find out what verification checks have been done on the Pet Sitter by the company, and when they were last verified.

Email the company’s support team who run the website if you have to. Any Sitter who has access to the inside of your home while you’re away MUST have a recent Police Background Check on and will have a checked police badge displayed.

6.    Ask the Pet Sitter if they have a secure, fenced property if photos are unavailable online 

This is very necessary to find out up front. It must also be viewed and inspected at the Meet & Greet stage.

7.  Make Contact through the website & Request a “Meet & Greet” 2-4 weeks before the pet stay to view the property 

Request a pre-interview with your pet(s) present to observe interactions and establish a “comfort level” for both you and your pet(s). It is also to do a property check to ensure the Sitter has a safe backyard, secure high fence, a tidy safe internal home, and to tell them more about your pet’s health, habits, and routine. Doing it in advance will give you enough time to look for another Pet Sitter if your pet and the Sitter or their home for any reason is not a good match. Never leave this until the last minute.

8.  Ask the Sitter what they do in event of an emergency

Accidents and mishaps happen, and you need to select a person who is experienced and resourceful enough to protect your pet as well as you would. For older and special needs pets, the potential sitter should document medication, feeding, and other health-related cycles. A comprehensive veterinary and/or partner pet sitter network should provide help if needed. PetCloud utilises a 24hr Animal Emergency Vet Network and an on-online Vet Video Consultation service.

9. Find out whether the Pet Sitter is insured by the company they are partnered with.

Under law anyone doing pet sitting for money must offer $10M public liability insurance to protect against accents and negligence.  What specific things does the insurance cover?
Every Pet Sitter is covered with insurance for all bookings that take place via PetCloud.

10. Is the Sitter timely and responsive in answering your initial questions online?

How quickly does your Pet Sitter respond to any questions you ask? Being responsive is also confidence building that they will reply to your emails and SMSes once you book them too.
We expect additional normal traits such as honesty, hygiene, integrity, and being polite as a given so we have not mentioned it here in order for you to look for specific things.


Top Ten Tips on Finding a Qualified and Professional Pet Sitter

Click How to become a pet sitter to earn some extra cash.