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An Insider’s Perspective on Selecting a Pet Sitting Service
While the set of “recommended standards” shown below (put forth by Pet Sitters International, the largest industry trade organization) to help customers select a pet sitting or dog walking service is an excellent start, this article will offer some important additional perspectives from an “insider’s” point of view.

Recommended Quality Standards for Excellence in Pet Sitting

The sitter is bonded and insured. The sitter conducts business with honesty and integrity and observes all federal, state and local laws pertaining to business operations and animal care.
The sitter provides references. The sitter has a veterinarian on call for emergency services.
The sitter has experience in caring for pets and is clearly mindful of their safety and well-being. The sitter has a contingency plan for pet care in case of inclement weather or personal illness.
The sitter provides written literature describing services and stating fees. The sitting services provides initial and ongoing training for its sitters.
The sitter visits the client's home before the first pet sitting assignment to meet the pets and get detailed information about their care. The sitting service screens applicants for employment carefully.
The sitter shows a positive attitude during the initial meeting and seems comfortable and competent dealing with animals. The sitter calls to confirm or has the client call to confirm the client has returned home as scheduled.
The sitter provides a service contract which specifies services and fees. The sitter refrains from criticizing competitors.
The sitter takes precautions to make sure a client's absence from home is not detected because of any careless actions or disclosures by the sitter. The sitter provides a feedback mechanism for clients.
The sitter keeps regular office hours and answers clients inquiries and complaints promptly.

Copyright Pet Sitters International - All Rights Reserved

Customer references are critical. Who better to “sell” a company than its customers? Try to avoid the trap of speaking with one of a few standard references the company always uses. Ask for a lot of references, in your own neighborhood if possible, and then call a few of them. Besides asking about honesty, reliability, etc., ask how the company has managed its way through any problem situations which may have arisen over time. You’ll find that this exercise often succeeds at creating different impressions of competing services.

Will the caretaker always be the same person? (The answer should be “yes.”) Who will it be? You should be able to learn about the person’s background, aspirations, etc. before the beginning of the assignment.

“Bonding and (Business Liability) Insurance” This is a bare minimum to be a member in good standing of the industry. A more subtle but potentially as important distinction is whether or not the company carries Workers’ Compensation Insurance for its employees and/or independent contractors. If it doesn’t, a single catastrophic incident would likely bring down the whole company, including your service. As this is expensive insurance, don’t be surprised to learn how many companies do not carry it.

Internet access --- for maintaining accurate records, making reservations, receiving confirmations, receiving invoices, etc.. As time marches on, it is clear that an ever-increasing number of customers will prefer to do business via the Internet. Those of us in the service business should be at the forefront of anticipating and accomodating this need.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that Creature Comforts stands ready to be evaluated by these criteria.

We welcome your feedback, which should be sent to Info@CreatureComfortsCorp.com.

And, we look forward to serving you.