During holiday seasons pet owners are in a scramble to find somebody to care for their pets. The first concern that often comes to mind is cost. People want a good VALUE for their dollar but do they take into consideration the VALUE they hold of their pets?
I received a call from an older pet owner in November who lived in a very wealthy neighborhood. She was referred by my veterinarian, and normally used one of the technicians at our veterinary clinic to care for her dog overnight but they were unavailable for the holiday season. She asked me how much I charge & I replied $65/night. She literally gasped on the phone & said she’d get back to me. Obviously she is spoiled having the technician care for her dogs for a lower cost. When her daughter convinced her to call back to book it because she had no other choice I was already booked. She was referred to my affiliate who normally charges $75/night! However, since I referred her, she’d get the care for my rate of $65/night.
So why the price difference?
The technician who normally cares for the owner’s dog does it as a hobby for some extra money on the side. Their main source of income is working at the veterinary clinic. They are NOT bonded & insured or have a business license. They don’t have a legitimate business they operate on a professional level & pay taxes on etc.
I received a call from a lady on a Monday evening that she needed care for her dogs starting Wednesday through Sunday night. Apparently she had asked a friend to do it & they cancelled on her 2 days prior to her departure. Now she is in a panicked search to find a sitter for her dogs before she leaves. I was already booked & could not do it on 2 days notice so again she got referred to my affiliate.
The pet owner in an attempt to save money asked a friend or relative to care for her dogs. That person has no obligation or contract with her so it is easy for them to cancel on her or not even show up! A professional pet sitter will have a contract or service agreement that you sign. This bonds both of you into the care for your pets. You get the guarantee they will care for your pet & you promise to pay them for that care.
A couple is planning a trip to Russia to go adopt a baby. The wife works at home and is with their 3 cats most of the time. They are very concerned about their cats being left alone while they travel. They have to go away for 4 days to a seminar as a preliminary to their adoption. A co-worker of the husband volunteers to come care for the cats. At the walk through she doesn’t want to walk down to the basement on a winding staircase to see the litter box area. The couple had to coax her down & show her an alternative way to go downstairs.
While they are away several days go by without hearing from the cat sitter. No text emails or calls. They finally decide to call her & she answers the phone. Tells them she is at the house right now & everything is fine. When they return home & walk in the front door the odor overwhelms them. The litter boxes obviously had not been cleaned in a few days. When confronted about the litter boxes the person states that she had cleaned them every day & even asks/offers to care for the cats on their next trip.
The pet owners had a friend/co-worker do it to save some money & not knowing of any other option. Obviously the person did not know how to properly care for cats. They had no idea if the person was actually there & showed up to care for them while they were away. The person left evidence that the cats were not properly cared for, denied it & then offered to care for the cats again. The pet owners saw a pet sitting sign near their home & realized this would be a better option to look into.
Even if it is a friend, family member or kid next door looking to make some extra money, do you value your pet’s life & care to save a dollar? Do you want to hope they show up? Or hope they care for your pets correctly? People forget, accidents happen & things come up. Most likely your pet is not going to be their first priority.
To a Professional Pet Sitter – Your Pet IS the priority!
A REAL PROFESSIONAL Pet sitter is:
- Has PET CPR, First Aid or some ANIMAL medical care training
- Uses a service contract, and pet information forms
- Has a website
- Has references
- Has a Secure Key or Lock Box system
- Has experience & knowledge in working with animals
- Does a consultation to meet with you & run though your pets care routine
- Text, calls or emails regular updates with pictures of your pet while you are away
- Books up in advance – a good pet sitter is in high demand!
Now look at that list, and consider how much more VALUE those items have and hold when it comes to the VALUE of your pet’s life & care while you are away.
The less items on the list mean less you will pay & the less your chances are of your pet receiving good care while you are away. The horror stories I have heard & seen over the years speak for themselves. The stories above are just a small handful of recent examples within a one-month period I have heard!
When you look at websites such as Care.com and Sittercity.com there are literally HUNDREDS of people posted on there who want to care for pets. They are college kids, retired, unemployed, men, women, teenagers & they ALL LOVE PETS, HAVE HAD PETS & WOULD LOVE TO CARE FOR YOUR PET! What I have seen as result of theses sites – people are looking for the cheapest pet care possible. I could send them the best resume possible in terms of being a professional pet care provider! Then the minute they hear my rates the emails & contact stop.
Pet sitters seem to be a dime a dozen. It’s a quick, easy way for a person who likes animals to make some extra money in today’s economy. The quick easy cheap way could put your pet’s life in danger. Is it worth their life to save a few bucks?
As a client of mine repeatedly tells me: “Peace of mind is priceless!”
This has been a contribution from Shannon Cole, owner of Shannon’s Pet Sitting, a Better Business Bureau accredited and award winning pet care service in Chicago’s NW Suburbs that specializes in pets w/ behavioral problems, medical needs & senior pets.
With over 15 years experience and being a certified veterinary assistant specialized in internal medicine, Shannon has built a strong reputation as an expert in the pet care industry. Shannon has been a featured guest several times on internet radio shows, and been interviewed about operating a successful pet care business by Angies’s List magazine and author Georganne Fiumara, in the book “How to Start a Home-based Business to Become a Work-At-Home Mom.”
She enjoys working with “Special Needs” pets and mentoring pet sitters that are new to the pet care industry.