What to consider when choosing a pet sitter

When going on holiday, the last thing you want to stress about is the wellness of your pet. Sometimes it is impossible to take our pets with us on holiday, and then we want to know that they will be taken care of by somebody we can trust – like a caring pet sitter. Mariska Allegretti, an experienced pet sitter, tells us what to look for and what to expect when choosing a reputable pet sitter.


Start early

Mariska says that the sooner you start your search for a reputable pet sitter, the better – especially over the peak holiday seasons in December and April. You don’t want to end up with someone that you can’t trust because you delayed the process for too long.

“When you need a pet sitter for an extended stay, you would usually book at least one month in advance. If you want to book a sitter for a weekend or a day, you need to book the person at least 24 hours in advance or longer if you prefer a specific person. The reason for this is to ensure that the pet sitter is available and so that you can plan ahead for the stay,” says Mariska.


Choosing a pet sitter

Don’t just appoint the first pet sitter you come across. You want to ensure that the person will be capable of taking care of your pets and any emergency that may occur. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you interview the prospective sitters in advance, check their references and see how your pets and the person interact with each other.

“There are no required qualifications for pet sitters, but the person must have a love for all animals – from hamsters to horses and bearded dragons to flesh-eating oscar fish and anything in between with four legs,” says Mariska.


Red flags

She says that before you hire a pet sitter, make sure that they meet the following criteria:

  1. The person is punctual for the ‘meet the pets and parents’ appointment.
  2. Your pets relate to the sitter with the first introduction and are comfortable being around the sitter. Otherwise, your pets might not be happy when they’re alone with the person.
  3. The sitter should be comfortable walking the dogs if they usually go on walks with the owner. And if the cat is used to being walked, the sitter should be comfortable doing that as well.
  4. The sitter should be comfortable handling the pets, whether it is a bearded dragon, horse, chicken or bunny.
  5. The sitter should also be comfortable sitting or sleeping with the cats and/or dogs on the bed or couch if that is what the pets are used to.

“If the owner is not comfortable having the pet sitter stay over, then rather find another sitter, as there should be mutual trust between the owner and the pet sitter,” warns Mariska.


Would you like to read more about what to consider or what the pet sitter needs? Get the November/December 2023 edition of Animaltalk magazine at retailers or order a digital or printed copy from www.coolmags.co.za.



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