According to Time, the most googled New Year’s Resolutions include reducing stress, quitting a job and learning to make kale chips. Then, there are the more ambitious resolutions, such as Mark Zuckerberg’s goal to build an artificial intelligence system to control his home. But, for the nearly 80 million pet-owning U.S. households and millions more worldwide, Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s leading educational association for professional pet sitters, offers this advice: Make a New Year’s Resolution to only use the services of a professional pet sitter in the coming year.
As spending on pet services continues to increase, quality pet-care providers are sure to be in high demand in 2016. Unfortunately, however, reports of theft, pet injuries or property damage at the hands of a person asked to provide pet care are not uncommon.
“Often times, pet owners, and even news outlets, use the term ‘pet sitter’ carelessly, referring to anyone—from a family friend to the neighborhood teenager asked to walk a dog—as a ‘pet sitter,’” explains PSI President Patti J. Moran. “It is important pet owners understand that pet sitting is a professional career and professional pet sitters offer peace of mind that other pet-care options cannot.”
“The good news is that with the growth of the pet-sitting industry, pet owners do not have to rely on untrained or unwilling friends, family members or neighbors when travel or long work hours keep them from their pets,” adds Moran.
Moran also notes, however, that with the influx of pet-care directory sites popping up in the few years and news stories touting pet sitting as an easy way to earn extra cash, more and more people are deciding to cash in on the growing need for pet care—and pet owners must be especially prudent when selecting a pet sitter.
PSI advises pet owners to ask seven important questions when interviewing a potential pet sitter:
- Does the pet sitter have the proper business license for your city or state?
- Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?
- Can the pet sitter provide proof of clear criminal history?
- Does the pet sitter provide client references?
- Will the pet sitter use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract?
- Has the pet sitter completed PSI's Certificate Program and/or has he or she participated in pet-care training, such as pet first aid?
- Is the pet sitter a member of a professional and educational association, such as Pet Sitters International?
“Just because you’ve seen a pet sitter in an online directory—or even on a nationally-publicized site—doesn’t ensure he or she operates a legitimate, qualified pet-sitting business,” explains Moran. “Anyone can post a profile advertising pet-sitting services, so it’s important for pet owners to take a closer look to ensure they are hiring a ‘real pet sitter’ to care for their pets.”
PSI also recommends pet owners schedule an initial consultation with a potential pet sitter prior to booking services and offers a Pet Sitter Interview checklist on its website to guide pet owners in the interview process.
Pet owners in need of pet-sitting services in 2016 can visit PSI’s Official Pet Sitter Locator™ at http://www.petsit.com/locate to find pet sitters in their areas and download the Pet Sitter Interview checklist.