When you decide to go out of town it often seems like a good idea and cost effective to just ask your neighbors to care for your pets. A lot of neighbors swap and take turns caring for each others pets when they go out of town. It’s all out of good intentions, but here is an example of what can and did happen when Shannon’s Pet Sitting shared a pet care job with a client’s neighbor. We felt this was a great example of the differences between a pet sitter vs. a neighbor.
The Smith’s (fictitious name) hired Shannon’s Pet Sitting to care for their 2 cats every other day while they were out of town. The cats were getting older and had some underlying health conditions that the owners wanted monitored a bit closer by a person with veterinary medical experience. The neighbors teenage daughter was going to come in and care for the Smith’s dog several times a day while they were gone. Shannon’s Pet Sitting was to come in every other day and feed the cats both dry & wet food, clean the litter boxes, and bring in the mail. As a courtesy Shannon’s Pet Sitting said we’d let the dog out while we were there.
The first visits we made to the house went fine. We took care of the cats & let the dog out while we was there. He had peed & pooped so we left a note for the neighbors letting them know what time we were there & what he did. We never received a return note nor ever saw one they wrote for the owner with updates.
The 2nd visit we made to the house the garage door was open when we arrived, telling us the neighbor was there caring for the dog. But we did not walk in to find a teenager. We walked into a strange dog greeting us when we walked in, and an older man. Where was this teenager that was supposed to care for the dog? It was obviously the teenager’s dad who had stopped by to let the dog out. The 2nd thing we noticed immediately upon walking in was the patio door was WIDE open with no screen door closed! Just letting the dogs come & go as they wished. When there are cats in a house this is a huge No, No! The 2 cats were nowhere to be found. We just said Hi and went about our business caring for the cats, feeding them & cleaning their litter box. In the back of our mind praying those cats didn’t get out because we knew they liked to lay near the back door, and possibly go out. Eventually the neighbor closed the back patio door and left. About 5 minutes later after calling for the cats they realized it was safe and came out of hiding. Apparently they didn’t like the other dog that was in the house. The cats were there to be cared for in their own home & environment, to avoid stress, and monitor for health concerns just had a strange dog come into their home, scare and stress them out causing them to hide. We are just glad they came out after the neighbor left and they hadn’t gotten out that patio door! We filled their food bowls, and cleaned/changed their litter box.
The Third visit we made to the house was just about shocking as the first. The neighbors were coming in through the garage, passing through the laundry room where the cats food bowls & litter box was, and then into the kitchen to care for the dog. We were coming through the front door when we entered the house. As soon as we entered the house the cats were ALL OVER US!! More than usual. We went into the laundry room to find both their food bowls were COMPLETELY empty. The cats sat in front of their food bowls crying. Because we were only hired to come every other day we have no idea how long their bowls were empty. It was apparent the gate had not been put up by the neighbors and the dog had gotten into the cat’s food. Plenty of dry food had been left for them & they didn’t eat THAT much of it in such a short time. But what bothered us more was the fact that in order to enter and leave the home the neighbors had to go right past the cats food bowls! The food was sitting there right on top of the washer & dryer! It would have taken 2 seconds to notice & throw some dry food down for them. Poor things! We felt awful!
We did not say a thing to the pet owner. We didn’t want to over step our bounds. There is a lot to consider when having a neighbor vs a pet sitter come in & the difference in the level of care is remarkable!
1) Even though as a pet sitter we weren’t hired to care for the dog we still let him out, gave him love, attention, treats and checked his water supply. The neighbor obviously did nothing to go out of their way to care for the cats in anyway even though another person was coming into care for them.
2) Pet sitters are aware of safety issues such as open doors, gates being closed, and encounters with animals that do not live in the home.
3) Attention to detail, updates, and photos are sent to the owner by a pet sitter. We sent pictures of all 3 animals & also told them we were unable to get the dog to come up from the basement one day. Even though we were only hired to care for the cats.
In the end the owner was gone 7 days, paid a professional pet sitter to come in 4 times costing $80.00. If we had come daily to take care of all 3 animals it would have been 3 visits = $60/day for a total of $420.00. We completely understand the cost factor and that the owner saved $340.00 by having the neighbor care for the dog while they were away. But on the other hand look at how much we saw happen just when we were there that technically was handled incorrectly and put their pets lives at risk. You get what you pay for when it comes to pet care. The Smith’s were VERY happy with the care provided by Shannon’s Pet Sitting and will hire us again to care for their cats. And as a courtesy We’ll continue to keep an watchful eye on all of their pets during our visits!