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BBB on Homes Take steps to find a qualified pet sitter

February 1, 2019 GMT

If you plan to travel or you work long hours, who will care for your pets? You love your pets like your children, but your relatives or neighbor may not be so enamored. Therefore, you may need professional assistance.

A good pet sitter will usually do much more than provide your pet with food and water while you’re away from home; they will also spend quality time with your pets, give them exercise, and will know if your pets needs veterinary attention.

Many pet sitters typically offer additional services, such as bringing in mail and newspapers, watering plants, turning lights on and off, and providing homes with a lived-in look to deter crime.

The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas offers the following tips for finding a pet sitter:

Where to find a pet sitter. You can check with friends, family or your veterinarian, and you can also check BBBHouston.org for accredited pet sitters in your area.

What to look for. To learn about your potential pet sitter’s qualifications and services, first interview your candidates on the phone and consider the following. Although there is no law that requires pet sitters be bonded, many of them are. Ask the sitter if they are bonded, and if they can provide written proof they have commercial liability insurance.

This ensures you are protected in case of an accident or theft. Ask what types of background checks are done on their employees, and if they have received proper training, including any special certifications.

Check if the pet sitter is associated with a veterinarian in case of an emergency. Ask if the pet sitter provide you with at least three phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to provide references.

Make sure the pet sitter will provide a written contract verifying services and fees.

Determine how the pet sitter communicate with you while you’re away. Many pet sitters will record daily notes about your pet’s activities and may send these to you in daily text messages to put your mind at ease. Also, verify what happens if the pet sitter becomes ill? Do they have a back-up?

Meet with the pet sitter. Have the pet sitter meet with you and your pet in your home to make sure they interact well with your pet and that you feel comfortable with the sitter.

Ask if If your pet has any special needs or behavior issues, make sure the sitter will be comfortable managing them while you are gone.

Ask how many visits will occur eacqh day and if the sitter will clean up any accidents.

Help the pet sitter help your pet. Here are some important things you should do to ensure you and your pet have the best experience possible: Make your reservations early, especially during the holidays, attach ID tags to your pet’s collar, maintain current vaccinations for your pet, leave clear instructions for pet care and emergency contact information, and leave pet food and supplies in one place. Also, show the pet sitter your home’s important safety features, such as the circuit breaker and the security system.

The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For information or to check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit www.bbbhouston.org, which includes our BBB Accredited Business Directory, or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send homeowner questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail lnapoliello@bbbhou.org. Include mailing address and phone number on letters and emails.