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Whenever I’m asked how I feel about pet sitting as an alternative to traditional kennel boarding, I always reply strongly in its favor. I treat my own pets to the safety and comfort of an in-home stay whenever I’m out of town… so why wouldn’t I recommend the same for my patients?
But as with any kind of service on offer, its success or failure depends to a very large degree on the service provider’s skills, resources and ethics. By which I mean to not-so-subtly imply that not all pet sitters are as skilled, resourceful and ethical as others — just as not all boarding kennels or even (gasp!) veterinarians are the epitome of perfection too.
I feel compelled (and qualified) to comment on this issue not just because the summertime travel season is on the horizon but also because, as a veterinarian, I’m often treated to a front-row seat when it comes to pet sitting disasters. Consider these excerpts sourced from the personal stories of friends, family, clients and colleagues:
Not impressive enough? How about this doozy:
Wow. Just… wow.
Not to scare the bejeezus out of you, but these things happen. To mitigate the risk, here are some simple tips I recommend:
1. References, references, references: It’s always easier to check out an Angie’s List or Yelp, but the truth is that asking for references and calling them yourself is a way better approach.
2. Basic professionalism: Business cards, good telephone manners, prompt email replies, references at the ready, even a website. It all means you’ll pay more, but...
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