July and August is vacation time and for many families, that entails lining up good care for their pets before leaving town. Whether you choose an in-home pet sitter or a boarding kennel, you will want to start the selection process early! Top-notch facilities can book up fast during holidays and popular vacation times. The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to help pet owners choose the best care for their furry friends while they are away.
If you believe your pet would do better in the comfort of your home, you may want to hire a professional pet sitter.
- Ask friends, neighbors or your veterinarian if they can recommend a professional pet care giver.
- Services can vary widely. Interview prospective pet sitters to find out how many hours a day they will be at your house; what their duties will entail; whether they are trained to administer any necessary medication; the nature and number of their other clients; their transportation needs; and whether they have any pets of their own.
- Check to see if the pet sitter has a good rapport with your pets. How do your pets respond when in the sitter’s presence?
- Find out what their fee includes and their payment requirements. Some pet sitters are willing to also assume non-pet related chores, such as bringing the mail in, watering plans, turning lights on or off or even staying overnight.
- Ask the pet sitter for personal references and call them. Ask the referrals when they used the person’s services; if they were satisfied with the care giver; if they would hire the person again; and, if any unexpected problems arose.
- The pet sitter will have access to your home, so you will want to find out if they are bonded and whether they have commercial liability insurance coverage. Ask for documented proof of these items.
- Are they a member of a professional association, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International? If so, ask what the membership entails and if there are standards they must abide by.
If you are considering a boarding kennel, the BBB suggests that you:
- Ask friends, neighbors, veterinarian or local animal shelter for recommendations. Also, the American Boarding Kennels Association’s Web site (www.abka.com) has a pet service locator that may be helpful to your search.
- Personally visit the facilities. Check for cleanliness and offensive odors and note the overall safety of the kennel and cages.
- If your state requires inspections, is the kennel properly licensed?
- Ask about the feeding schedule, water accessibility and frequency of or fees related to exercise.
- Note the friendliness of staff members and how they interact with the other boarding pets and ask about their background/experience.
- Make sure the facility requires that all entering pets have proof of immunization and ask about their policies regarding flea and tick control.
- Ask about the hours for drop off and pick up.
- Finally, ask what happens in the case of a medical emergency or other unexpected situation.
Whether you choose to use a professional pet sitter or a boarding kennel, contact the BBB to obtain a reliability report, before making your final decision.