Angie's List: Hiring a pet sitter

With the holidays often comes taking time off to travel, and sometimes, pets can’t make the trip.

For Peter and Erin Rusthoven, hiring a pet sitter to come into their home and check on their three dogs every day gives them peace of mind that their pets are being well-cared for while they are away.

“In addition to her obviously caring for the dogs, she's also checking the house, bringing in our mail, watering plants, those types of things,” said Erin and Peter.

Pet sitter Becki Bradford says she emphasizes safety when training her staff.

“We do a quick walk around outside the house. We make sure gates are closed if we have yard play scheduled with the dogs,” said Bradford. “We check and make sure windows and doors look secure. Part of our training program is teaching our staff what to look for that something might be out of place."

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, says 80 percent of respondents in a recent poll say kennel care is a huge factor in travel plans.

”Are you going to board your pet or have a pet sitter? The nice thing about a pet sitter is that your pet gets to stay in their own environment,” said Hicks. “Also, you get someone who is checking in on your house for security reasons and in case something goes wrong like a busted pipe."

Bradford recalls a situation when a sitter’s watchful eye spotted something more than pet mishap.

“The client had just had a kitchen remodel done and had a built-in ice maker put into the island. The ice maker developed a leak inside the cabinetry of the island so it wasn't noticeable in the kitchen itself, but a drip began through the ceiling of the floor beneath them, and we caught that fairly quickly so the damage was limited,” she said.” But had we not been there, it would have caused a lot of damage as it was an expensive repair already, but it took out a lot of the ceiling below and the structure was starting to get wet and mold in just the 24 hours between our visits."

Most professional sitters charge between $15 and $50 per visit, depending on the distance traveled, length of the visit, and duties required.

Visits can range from as little as 20 or 30 minutes to staying in the house overnight.

Hicks said seeing how potential sitter meshes with a pet is key.

“Watch them interact with your pet and see how they do,” said Hicks. “Also, because they are going to be in your home and you're trusting your pet with them, you want to make sure they are reputable so be sure you are interviewing the person that is going to be taking care of your pet and also be sure they are insured and bonded.”

Remember, before you hire anyone, make sure you understand the services the sitter will provide, including frequency of visits, and clearly communicate your pet's needs.

A professional sitter should have a plan in case of an emergency with your home or pet.

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