Your suitcase is packed, your vacation time approved, and you’re ready to head out for a little family R & R. Whatever your destination, kids are welcome but pets must stay behind (even if they are the better behaved of the two). But if kennels are full or just don’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, a pet sitter is your best bet.
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Katie Bugbee, Managing Editor at Care.com, the largest online care destination in the world, recommends a few interview and screening strategies when choosing a pet sitter. Here are her tips:
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1. Play Reporter
Interview applicants over the phone. Get a feel for their personality, love of animals and ability to handle emergencies. Come up with a list of questions to ask a potential pet sitter.
Pre-screen. Consider running a free background check (available on Care.com) before meeting someone in person.
Meet at a park or coffee shop. If you have an outdoor animal, going for a walk is a great opportunity to see how your candidates interact with your pet. Otherwise, view this meeting as a chance to ask your important questions, like how he or she would handle an emergency (name specific emergencies determine if your comfort level with the answers).
Call references. Ask for examples of how this person has engaged their animal, helped in a difficult situation, proved himself as a trustworthy person, etc.
Run background checks. Considering you will be giving this person a house key, it’s important to do three types of checks: an Enhanced Background Check, which can run several address verifications and check for arrest reports; feedback from references; and the feeling you get from your own “gut check.”
2. Know Your Non-Negotiables
Consider what factors are most important in a pet sitter and what you are open to. Make a list of your must-haves; examples might include:
Must sleep at the house/can do check-ins
Walk or feed at certain hours of the day/animal is flexible
Amount of pet experience
Experience administering medication
Active and lively
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3. Develop a Contract
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Once you’ve hired a pet-sitter and are breathing easy, put all details in writing. Go over your pet’s requirements, feeding times, walk times and all expectations of the sitter.
Include payment information and when it will be issued. Be sure to also address any of your pet sitter’s concerns here as well. Such as, will the sitter be paid if you come home early and what happens in an emergency. Once both of you sign the contract, you can feel extra comfortable that you are on the same page.
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