This week marks the 20th annual Professional Pet Sitters Week (PPSW). Pet Sitters International (PSI) was founded in 1994 by Pat Moran and is now the leading educational association for pet sitters. While not everyone can afford a professional pet sitting service, PSI does offer some excellent advice about what to look for when finding a suitable sitter:
References—Friends who have pets are like friends who have kids; they understand the importance of making sure that the right person is watching your loved ones, so ask around. The saying “your reputation proceeds you” is certainly something to consider when searching for a sitter, and PSI strongly encourages pet owners to thoroughly vet those you’re considering hiring, and that includes references.
Rapport—PSI recommends having in-your-home meetings, so you can see how a potential pet sitter will behave around your beloved fur baby. Do they immediately act in an overly familiar fashion? Do they seem indifferent? Do they demonstrate an understanding of people-pet relations? A pet sitter should give a pet the time and space it needs to warm up to them.
Reliability—A pet sitter should be someone you can count on. It's important that you choose someone who isn't going to flake on you at the last minute. PSI offers a handy Pet Sitter Interview Checklist that encourages you to ask about cancellation policies, lead time on requests for them to sit, and contingency plans in the case of inclement weather or emergencies. While your relationship with your pet sitter may not be quite so formal, it can be helpful to set a precedent of boundaries and courtesy. Some folks are better with pets than they are with people, so make sure to keep the lines of communication open from the very start and you should be on your way to a steady sitting relationship.