Leaving your pet for a day trip, a week or longer can be nerve-wracking. How will you know they are safe? Who can you trust to care for them as you do? Fortunately for pet parents, there are many pet care options available to suit every species, breed and pet’s personality. Should you decide to keep your pet secure and comfortable in their home environment, here is a list of 10 questions you should ask when choosing a pet sitter in Connecticut.
1. What is their background and experience?
Being a pet lover isn’t enough. Be sure to ask about your potential sitter’s background, experience, and how they stay on top of the pet care industry’s newest research.
A trustworthy, professional pet sitter will have experience far beyond caring for pets of their own. They should have experience with different sized breeds and animal species. What experience do they have with the type of animals you have at home?
Be sure to ask them about their education and job experience. For example, have they worked at a kennel or veterinary office previously? Do they have certifications in the field? Are they a part of any organizations?
2. Are they insured and bonded?
Insurance and Bonding keep you, your pet and your home protected from accidents and dishonest people. These protections should be non-negotiable in your search to choose a pet sitter in Connecticut.
Liability insurance will keep you protected if an emergency occurs, such as your dog slipping out the front door and getting injured. The insurance should also include protecting and repairing your property in the case of an accident, such as a faucet left running and ruining your kitchen floor.
Your pet sitter should be able to provide proof of insurance upon request.
When a pet sitter is “bonded,” it typically means they have insurance in place if something goes missing from your home. For example, imagine a service provider is in your home (plumber, cleaning service, pet sitter, etc.) and there is evidence they went into your bedroom jewelry box, and now your favorite necklace is missing, Bonding guarantees the value of that necklace. While a trustworthy pet sitter would never commit such a crime, they should have this in place for your peace of mind.
As a bonus, you can also ask your potential pet sitter if they (and/or their team members) have proof of a recently passed criminal background check.
3. What is their backup plan if there is an emergency?
Life happens. It’s up to a professional pet care provider to understand this and be sure they have a plan in place if something goes wrong. Ask your potential pet sitter how they would handle various situations such as if they fell ill, got into a car accident or in the case of a natural disaster. Who would they contact? Who would take over for pet care?
A professional, trustworthy pet sitter will be able to answer this question quickly and confidently. These procedures should be part of their policies and easily accessible to potential clients.
4. Do they have set policies and a service agreement?
Speaking of policies – do they have any? Policies or a service agreement are crucial to understanding what your pet care experience includes and what you can expect. Payment terms, cancellation policies, specific fees, and more are covered and spelled out here to ensure there are no surprises for you as a client and protect the sitters’ business.
5. How is your information kept safe?
You may need to provide your pet sitter with sensitive information before your trip. Information about alarm codes, garage codes, hidden keys, and the doors you always leave unlocked can be a serious threat to your security if not stored securely or kept in professional software.
Be sure to ask how this information is kept safe. Many hobby-type sitters will keep this information written down on paper. If this is the case, ask how the data is stored when not in use. Is it left in the car? In a locked cabinet? Is it shredded after the job?
Ask how your keys are stored and identified. You don’t want them to have a label with your name and address. If they got lost and found by someone, they would know exactly where they belong! Ask your potential pet sitter to explain exactly how your keys are labeled, handled and where they go when the job ends.
6. How will you be updated during your services?
Chances are, you will want to receive updates when you’re away. Be sure to ask your potential pet sitter how they handle this. Will they text you? When? How many times a day? What if you don’t have service? How will you know they were there?
We utilize a reporting system to ensure our clients always know what’s going on, when it’s going on and include GPS check-in, check-out and photos to keep you worry-free and up to date at every visit. These can be delivered via text, email and/or push notification to ensure you’ll never be out of the loop!
7. How are payments handled?
Understanding how your potential pet sitter handles payments is crucial for you to know as a client. One thing to take note of is how the pet sitter will calculate the cost of service. Does the pet sitter have published rates? Do they charge by time or by the pet or something else? When is payment due? Can you pay with cash? A check? Credit card?
Some sitters do not accept personal checks. Some accept credit cards only. Ensure that you are comfortable with the payment terms and method before service.
8. Do they have a website? Social media?
Does the pet sitter you’ve selected have a website or presence on social media? We believe transparency is important when choosing the right pet care provider for your fur-family. A website should detail policies, services, introduce you to team members and highlight why they are THE business to choose.
Social media accounts can show you even more about the business, how they interact with potential and current clients, and let you get to know your potential pet sitter before you even meet them!
9. Do they have reviews or references?
Furthermore, reviews are very important to consumers of services and products alike. Ask potential pet sitters if they have any online reviews. Legitimate reviews can be an excellent look at why clients love their pet care provider. If there are bad reviews, take a look at how the business owner responded. This can give you an idea of their customer service and how will you be treated should a problem arise.
Many pet sitters have references upon request. While we find most clients base their decision on our reviews alone, we do occasionally get requests to speak with current clients directly. Unless your potential pet sitter has a policy specifically against this, they will likely be happy to provide some!
10. Are they registered with your town? Your state?
Whether or not a pet sitter has their registration with your state is a question that comes up with clients who want to ensure they are hiring a legitimate business that pays taxes to the local and state economy. If your pet sitter is operating under a business name, they should have a DBA filed with their town. If they are a Limited Liability Corporation, S-Corp, or other business structure, they will be registered with the state and pay the appropriate taxes.
Sole proprietors do not need to register with the state but should be reporting income on their Schedule C each year to be a legitimate, tax-paying business.
Bonus Question: Do they have Independent Contractors or Employees?
The independent contractor (IC) vs employee debate is an important one. If your potential pet sitter has people working for them, be sure to ask how they are classified. In the state of Connecticut, pet sitting and dog walking team members should have an employee classification. When businesses may incorrectly classify their team members as ICs to save on labor costs they are not in control of training how or when the team member cares for your home or pets and are robbing the classified employees of worker’s compensation protection among other benefits.
Choosing a Pet Sitter in Connecticut Can Lead to a Lifelong Friendship
There’s no doubt that there is a lot to think about when choosing someone to care for your fur babies. Using the questions above and trusting your intuition will get you far and hopefully land you with the perfect pet care professional for you. When you find that right person, the friendship, trust and appreciation that blooms is priceless and worth every minute of your research.
To learn how RCO Pet Care Care can help you with your dog walking and pet sitting needs, check out our services, contact us or call us at (203) 641-2428. If you’re outside of our service area we’re happy to help you find a reputable, professional sitter. We’ve got your tail!