Hiring a pet or house sitter can be scary since you are trusting a stranger in your home while you are away. Due diligence in hiring the best pet sitter is similar to an employer selecting the best candidate for a job position.
After setting up a meet and greet with a potential sitter, it is important to ask yourself the following questions before making the hire.
1. Does the sitter provide you a business card upon arrival?
If you are dealing with a professional sitter, expect them to hand you a card or flyer immediately upon meeting you. That way you have contact information for your wallet when you are gone.
2. Does the sitter take copious notes?
Some sitters require you to complete a questionnaire before arriving. If the sitter did not ask for the information before the visit, does the sitter note instructions and ask questions about the animal’s care, habits, needs and location of pet areas?
A good sitter takes notes for additional information, even if the information is collected electronically before the first meeting.
3. How does the sitter interact with your pet at introduction?
If the sitter does not interact with your animal or greet the animal at its level, seek additional information from the sitter. If you have a bashful pet, observe either the sitter’s actions around the pet or ask how the sitter plans to care for the animal.
For example, good sitters will arrive at your home, sit on the floor, and remain very quiet for a few minutes, to hopefully assist a bashful cat in the acceptance of a stranger. Of course, if the sitter seems turned off or nervous around your animal, you may want to seek another sitter.
4. Does the sitter ask questions about other emergency contacts?
Sitters should collect contact information for the veterinarian, but a good sitter will ask if there is a local contact should something happen around the home that constitutes as an emergency.
5. Does the sitter have signage on their vehicle?
Signage on pet sitting service vehicles advertises an absent resident. If sitters are defensive about the signage, you have another clue for concern.
6. Will the person meeting you be the same person caring for your pet?
Ensure you meet the person who will be caring for your pet. You should be wary of a contact person who assigns someone else to care for your animal. Some pet sitting companies have employees, but the person delivering the service should be the one to meet you and the animal.
Ask a potential sitter for references. Most sitters are prepared with references, even if you found their name and good record on Angie’s list. Always call at least one of the references for your piece of mind.
Finally, while you are away, the sitter should leave notes about each visit. Additionally, some sitters send text messages and even photos to add to a pet owner’s comfort level.
When you return, your animal should be calm and happy to see you. You will be able to tell if your animal received the care you expect by your animal’s behavior and cleanliness of the pet areas.
About this Angie's List Expert: Joelyn Weeks is the owner of Auntie Jo’s Pet and Housesitting Services, providing animal and house sitting in Austin, Texas. Since 2005, Auntie Jo’s has provided sitting services that range from periodic visits during the day to staying at home with the pets. She is a recipient of the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award.
As of July 25, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.