Over the last couple of years, there has been a proliferation of online listing sites that advertise pet sitters, dog walkers, day cares, boarders, etc (DogVacay, Rover, Care, SitterCity). They are sort of a more organized and pay versions of a Craigslist. Be forewarned though, because someone has a listing does NOT mean they are a true, professional pet sitter. Because someone “loves pets” doesn’t make them a pet sitter just like someone who “loves cars” doesn’t make them a mechanic.
None of those sites require any type of full vetting, ie, anyone can get listed without their credentials checked. The sites will say that they screen the sitters but I can tell you from experience the so-called “screening” is just a phone conversation with a few questions at best. Most just let you set up an account, pay them and you are listed…..that’s it! No background check, no verification of experience or credentials. Yes, that means a felon can be listed on the site waiting for you to contact them to go into your home…….alone.
And as the popularity of these sites grow and the flaunting of “hey, list with us and make money playing with pets!”, it’s creating a dangerous situation for many pet owners and blurring the line of a true full-time, professional pet sitter vs a hobby/part-time pet sitter.
Tragedy In Gilbert, Arizona
You may have heard but in 2014 there was a horrible tragedy in Gilbert, Arizona. Twenty dogs died of overheating at a place called Green Acres Dog Boarding (you can read more on the story here. You can also see more information on this FB page and many more stories if you search about them). The owners claimed the dogs chewed through the AC wire and thus they overheated and perished (later reported as false). There were several horrifying facts and questions that were raised during all of this.
It was reported that the dogs’ bodies were stacked in their shed and the owners were informed that their dogs “ran away”. The owners did not inform the clients they were going to be out of town and the owners left the dogs in the care of an Arizona Senator’s son, further adding to the conspiracy. Why were they left alone so long? Why did they put so many dogs in such a small space? Why did all of the dogs, minus the one dog (who was the caretaker’s dog) have no or minimal food or water in their systems? And finally, they were listed on Rover who continued to accept reservations for this location after the deaths!! WHAT?? It just goes to show how disconnected these listing sites can be from the actual provider and, you, the customer.
This was one the worst of the stories I’ve come across, but unfortunately there have been many, many more.
Finding a True Pet Care Professional
No matter where you find your pet sitter, do your homework and ask LOTS of questions. Know who you are leaving your furbabies with and ensure they and your home will get the best care possible. You can see our top questions to ask on our What To Look For in a Pet Sitter post.
Also, even if the potential pet sitter is vet trained, ie, vet tech or worked in a vet office, be sure to still ask a lot of questions. Just working in a vet office does NOT make them a qualified pet sitter. Unfortunately, we’ve seen poor care even with providers who were vet techs. There was a local dog who died in the care of a vet tech which could have easily been avoided. Out of respect, I will not post any links to this story since it is local.
You might have even seen the most recent story this past week of a veterinarian, no less, who killed what was a originally thought to be a feral cat with her bow and arrow. (Warning! graphic pictures in that link). It was later found that the cat was a neighbor’s pet who went missing the same day. As the firestorm grew, she boasted about her posted picture “no I did not lose my job. Lol. Psshh. Like someone would get rid of me. I’m awesome!”. Thankfully, she was subsequently fired and will likely have a very hard time being a vet again in the near future, if ever again. A very sad predicament for someone who went through a lot of work to be a vet only to throw it away with such behavior.
If they claim to be a vet tech, you could ask additional questions such as how long they were a vet tech? Why are they no longer a tech (or are they still doing it)? How long have they been pet sitting full time (important to know if it was full time or just a weekend here and there for years)? Can you contact the office where they work or used to work to inquire about their professional experience at that office?
Having experience in a vet’s office is certainly a plus but being a pet sitter and caring for your home while you’re away is not a 100% crossover by any means. There are many other factors that go into being a pro pet sitter. Be sure they have all the qualifications you are looking for and again, please, ask a lot of questions!
Here at WestFetch, we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about us, our services and the care of your pets and home. We have lots of info on our website and you can Contact us anytime and we’d be happy to help!