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9 Pet Sitter Booking Blunders that could Wreck Your Holiday

9 Pet Sitter Booking Blunders that could Wreck Your Holiday

If you are travelling this holiday season, you are not alone. Pet Sitter websites are increasingly popular, but it is easy to make poor assumptions that could drain your bank account and put your pet at risk of escape, injury, or death. This article takes a look at nine of the most common pet sitter booking blunders and how to avoid them.

#1 Assuming their standard of care for your pets, is just like yours.

neglected dog
Pictured: A tethered neglected dog with dirty empty water bowls & matted fur

In unregulated industries such as Pet Sitting, people aren’t required to prove they know how to care for animals. Some companies don’t provide any training or sub-standard training. Their number 1 goal is to get as many customers and bookings and make as much revenue as possible.

Do the Sitters do daily nose to tail body checks? What is their action plan in the event of an emergency? What is their care technique for correcting behaviour? Do they use positive reinforcement? Or are you okay with them smacking or yelling at your pets? How will they prevent dog or cat fights breaking out? Are they aware of council by laws and their obligations when out in public with your dog? These are just a few of many things a Pet Sitter needs to know before caring for pets.

#2 Assuming they have common sense

dog in hot car
Pictured: A vehicle can get hot even with the windows down in a cool, shaded position – the clouds and sun can move quickly.

The reality of pet sitting is that there are many different scenarios that arise every single day, and it takes someone who has at least an average amount of intelligence, is proactive, who has foresight, and good problem-solving skills.

Unfortunately, good judgement doesn’t come naturally to some people. It can take as little as 6 minutes for a car’s temperature to heat up and can quickly become fatal for pets. Will they leave your pet in their car while they go grocery shopping for 20 minutes? What about leaving two unknown guest dogs alone and unsupervised at home and a fight breaks out? This could be fatal. This is where industry-recognised accredited pet care training can greatly improve the Pet Sitter’s sense of judgement.

#3 Assuming the Sitter will pay an Emergency Vet Bill

Pet Sitter refusing to pay
Pictured: Pet Sitter refusing to pay or unable to pay for an Emergency Vet Bill

Everyone starts off friends in the beginning, but what happens if an incident occurs costing tens of thousands of dollars in emergency Vet bills? Solo Sitters can just say no and become uncontactable.

It can cost upwards of $16,000 to operate and remove a swallowed object if it was the Sitter was proven negligent for not providing supervision, injuring your pet, or making them ill.  That sort of debt can set you back financially for years.

When you look for an Insurance Policy on some of the largest Pet Care Service Booking websites, they will instead choose unclear, sneaky marketing words such as we have the “XYZ Company Guarantee” instead of using the word “Insurance”. This is likely because no Insurer wants to insure the company anymore due to the lack of training provided to Sitters, and the historical high volume of incidents, the company is now deemed too high risk. So you should avoid them.

#4 Assuming their Reviews are real.

fake reviews, mad paws
Pictured: Fake online reviews created by individuals or organisations are rife

Fake reviews are easy to create and are prolific across the internet by both unethical companies and individuals. Do they have only positive reviews? Where are all the bad ones? What third party animal welfare body is keeping them accountable?  PetCloud provides historical reputational reviews of Pet Sitters on our site. These reviews cannot be edited by Pet Sitters.  PetCloud has purposely chosen not to be invested in by Venture Capital companies who want ‘growth at all costs” so they can line their pockets with money, at your pet’s risk. This pressure can create some companies to do unethical things such as create fake 5 star reviews on Sitter listings to persuade Customers to book.

#5 Assuming they will be the only ones at the property

Pictured: A guest smoking at a Pet Sitter’s home

Always ask what other pets will be present during the booking and work out a plan what to do if your pet is increasingly incompatible with another pet staying at the property and you are 10,000 miles away from being able to do anything about it. Finding out what other visitors will be present (children or adults) who could leave the gate open, or could smoke.

unsocialised dogs
Pictured: Pairing unsocialised dogs with high prey drive with smaller lap dogs is a recipe for disaster.

#6 Assuming they will be reliable and contactable

Pictured: Sitters not held accountable by a third party company are more likely to do what they want.

Some solo Sitters may verbally take on your house sitting booking, but after it starts, may try to abandon it if something better arises, like a new boyfriend, a bigger booking elsewhere, a party, or fake sickness etc.  A Sitter with no accountability will tend to do what they want, when they want. No backup network to rely on will mean that you have to choose between coming home early from your holiday or having a total stranger in your house take over the booking, recommended by the person who abandoned your booking.

#7 Assuming they’re Police checked

Pictured: A puppy being stolen by an unverified person.

Some Pet Sitter Booking websites deliberately use the ambiguous term, ‘vetted’ in their marketing when saying “All our Pet Sitters are vetted”, so most Pet Owners make the mistake of assuming a Pet Sitter has been Police checked – when all that’s been obtained by the company is an email address and a phone number. Not having a police check on a Pet Sitter means that you could be placing your property and pet in the hands of a criminal.

#8 Assuming their property is safe and secure

Pictured: A dog sniffs a toxic mushroom, known to spring up after rain

Skipping a full property tour prior to the booking is never a good idea.  Nice people can still have hazardous, or easy to escape properties. Toxic plants, unseen pesticides, unfenced bodies of water to fences that can be squeezed through, dug under, or jumped over. Pet Owners must be assertive and request for a full property tour from Sitters as early as possible and work on solutions together if hazards or escape routes are identified. Or, choose to meet with a Sitter with a more suitable property for your pet. PetCloud has an RSPCA Property checklist of hazards to look for, provided to Pet Owners when they book.

#9 Assuming they’re of ‘good character’

Pet Owner stressed on Holiday
There’s no point in spending thousands on a holiday only to be stressed the whole time.

Some Pet Sitters offer to pay in cash, enticing you with a discount.  This is called “Tax Evasion” and is illegal in Australia. Unfortunately, the price of Pet Owners paying cash and accepting service from a solo Pet Sitter means that

1) Insurance will not be available to cover your pet’s enormous Emergency Vet Bills in the event of an incident

2) They have no support network to rely on to replace them if they have to attend to a family emergency and can’t complete the booking. 

3) There’s no trace of agreement for services. 

4) There’s no accountability for them to even carry the job through to completion diligently every day.  What happens if you want a refund? Solo Sitters can just say no, and become uncontactable.

5) There is no third party keeping them accountable or contactable. Remember, con artists usually con people because they initially come across as nice people.

PetCloud is redefining pet care in Australia.

Before RSPCA Queensland agreed to partner with PetCloud, round table workshops took place, with Animal Inspectors, Foster Carers, Senior Vets, Animal Behaviour Specialists to walk through the onboarding and booking process of Sitters and Pet Owners to decrease the risk of harm or escape to pets in care.  Together, we then collaborated on the creation of an online Pet Care course, leading the industry in how to take care of pets so that they are happy and safe.

If you want a reputable, Australian-founded platform that does actually Police check and insure every single Sitter, and provide them training, and you like what we are doing, then join PetCloud today, share our links, like our social media pages, and help us grow!

PetCloud is a corporate supporter of RSPCA Australia nationally. Every booking is an opportunity to make an impact on the welfare of animals, great and small, across Australia.

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