What to look for when booking a Pet Sitter for the Holidays

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Finding a holiday pet sitterHard to believe in October you need to worry about a Pet Sitter in November, December or even January! But if you want a GOOD pet sitter, Yes you have to start thinking about booking them that far in advance!
Thanksgiving, Christmas, And New Years are the busiest time of year for pet sitters. A good professional pet sitter will book 2-3 months in advance for the Holidays. Then what ends up happening is pet owners who wait until the last minute end up with either a sub standard pet care service, college kid, neighbor, friend to care for their pets, boarding at a kennel or cancelling their trip all together. A big help is to share the knowledge of booking early with fellow pet owners! If you know people who have pets it can’t hurt to mention to them its a good idea to book their pet sitter early and refer a good one if you know of one! Pet Sitters LOVE advanced notice & Referrals! There is often a referral bonus or discount given to current clients by pet sitting services – so share the knowledge!

When looking for a good, reputable pet care service to care for you pets over the holidays there are a few things to keep in mind and to look for.
#1 You get what you pay for! The cheaper the cost most likely the less quality of care, experience and liability recognition. It depends if you want QUALITY or QUANTITY.

a)  If you want QUALITY Professional Pet Care and aren’t too concerned with price – keep reading! I’ll help you know what to look for to find it!

b)  If you want QUANTITY and COST is your main concern – go to Care.com or Sittercity.com‎ They have hundreds of people on their sites who want to make some extra money & love animals.

#2 By liability recognition I mean the ability to hold the pet care party responsible should something happen to your home, property or pet while in their care. Make sure whoever cares for your pet is BONDED & INSURED!! A neighbor, college kid, or friend will not be bonded and insured. Should in the unlikely event something happens to your pet, property or home there is no “Insurance” that you can hold them accountable. Now you are stuck in an awkward situation on how to take action and may not be able to reclaim your loss.
A PROFESSIONAL Pet Care Service is Bonded, Insured and possibly Licensed. PetSitUSA.com had a GREAT explanation of the terminology often used.

Christmas pet SitterMany pet sitters say they are “licensed, bonded, and insured” and proudly display it on their marketing materials and websites. What does all of this actually mean though? Insurance and bonding are pretty straightforward, but it’s the use of the word “licensed” that can be a bit confusing.

Insurance
Pet sitter liability insurance works much like any other insurance. It covers accidents that may affect the client’s pets or property while the pet sitter is on an assignment.

Bonding
Bonding is most appropriate for companies that hire employees. A fidelity bond (or dishonesty bond) usually insures a business in the event that an employee steals from a client. If this happens, and the employee is found guilty of theft, the bonding company will pay for the stolen items. Many sole-proprietors are bonded, but this is mostly for their clients’ peace of mind.

Licenses
A business license and a professional license are quite different, and anyone who hires a pet sitter should know what those differences are.

Business License
A business license is a permit, issued by a governmental entity, that allows an individual or company to operate a business in a particular geographical area. It can be issued by a city, town, or other entity, and can be issued to a pet sitter, a retail store, a bookstore, etc. – not just pet sitters. This type of license does not imply that the person obtaining the license has any expertise in the business he or she will operate.

Professional License
In order to work in certain professions, one must take specified coursework and then pass a test. Passing the test shows (ideally!) that people know their stuff, and it earns them a license to work in that profession.

There are no professional licensing requirements for pet sitters. Anyone who wants to open a pet sitting business can do so without any formal training, and no licensing tests are required. Many pet sitters have decided to borrow money, take pet related classes such as pet behavior, dog training, first aid, or business courses, and then open their open practice. Some pet sitters even take pet sitting business courses offered by private companies or trade groups, but classes such as this are not legal requirements to operate a pet sitting business.
– See more at: http://www.petsitusa.com/blog/?p=795#sthash.hrlMC35c.dpuf

Thanksgiving pet careShannon’s Pet Sitting is proud to say we are Bonded,  Insured & a Licensed Business.  Our business license is through the Village of Carpentersville, IL.  We are also a registered business in Kane County, IL.

How does a licensed business differ from one that is not? A licensed business shows it is in fact a legit business that has registered with the town they are in or the local county.  They often pay a small fee and provide documentation to obtain a license.

A legitimate “Business”  files taxes and is  seen in the eyes of  the government as a “business” .  Unfortunately a lot of pet sitters and those to claim to be a “Pet Care Company”  it is technically just a hobby.  Something they do “on the side” to make extra money. They don’t claim taxes on it.  It’s all money “under the table” and unaccounted for. The government does not know they are claiming to “Operate a Business” because they have not reported to the government, county or town that they are.

How can you tell if its a Registered Business or a hobbiest? You can tell by the way the party wants payment. If they want Cash only or Checks made out to them personally its not a registered business. A registered business gets a TAX ID # from the Federal Government and they have a “Business” Checking account.  Checks will be asked to be made payable to the Company instead of the individual.

Pet Care Companies who take the time, money & effort to become Licensed, Bonded & Insured want to make sure they are recognized as a “Professional Reputable Business.” They have taken extra steps & preventative measures to ensure you have peace of mind when they are caring for your pets.

Don’t be afraid to ask if a party is Insured, Bonded & Business Licensed.  Do not be afraid to ask for documented proof of it. I’m actually flattered when clients ask for it! I get to pull it out of my dusty binder & show it off!  Its an accomplishment a business owner should be proud of!

Holiday pet sitter#3  Get references and call them to find out what they have to say about the pet service. Feel free to ask them questions or voice concerns you may have. They may have had the same concerns themselves at the beginning of working with the service.

#4 Try to stick with companies that have been in business at least 2 years. This means that they are established and won’t be picking up, disappearing and quitting any time soon. A lot of people who start out pet sitting don’t always last too  long because its a lot more work than they initially thought it would be.

The rest is plain personality and seeing how your pets react and interact with the person who will be caring for them.  Pets are often an excellent judge of character!

A pet sitting service who meets all these requirements means they are good and will be in high demand! Therefore book them early!

About the Author: Shannon's Pet-Sitting