How NOT To Hire A House Sitter

I’ve been “inspired” !  You can thank ( this blog post  ) for my inspiration.. throughout this blog post I’ll be referring to it as well as some of the comments. You could say this is a bit of my own commentary as a professional (paid) house sitter as well as someone who runs a business that provides live in house sitting services (using other people).

She had performed this task for us many times before, although not for about two years.

There was their first mistake. Whilst this person had done this multiple times …. it HAD been two years.  Even if someone used me personally two years ago and I remember everything like it was yesterday (which I do)… I would STILL insist on a meet n greet up-front at least weeks before-hand if possible to ensure I’m up2date.

The one possible hitch in the plan was that she was bringing her young Pit-mix dog.

OMG!  Never ever EVER allow other people to bring their pets onto your property even if they’re a well respected dog trainer.  Of course it would be different if the pet was for dog training purposes however in THIS specific case…  the person was NOT a dog trainer just an owner.  Please forgive me for the harsh judgement however common sense says that there MUST be a meet n greet done between the dogs and at least one overnighter “as a trial” done before-hand.

One of the benefits of using us as PAID house sitters is that we are not “between jobs”, have our own homes (hence the reason we’re paid – we need to pay rent or a mortgage) and because we DO have our own homes we leave our pets behind.

I wasn’t actually that worried about the dog.

Listen to your intuition. Always. If you don’t feel it is the right fit – speak up. Say so. Your peace of mind is worth it. I know we personally won’t be insulted as we realise it’s a business relationship and we won’t be the right fit for everyone.

when she showed up at our house – only about 10 minutes before we had to leave for the airport

One of the downsides I’ve commonly heard from people whom have used family and friends then decide to use us is this exact reason. They don’t take it as seriously as someone whom is professionally doing it. Also, because this IS my income (I’m doing this full time not part time) … I do NOT have any other income or job to use as a “fall back” this is it for me…  I’m going to ensure we try to arrive early.  I also try to ensure all the people that work with me are aware of the importance of such requests.

Yet, at the same time, due to the fact that I personally have never needed to bring my own cat with me NOR any of my family of helpers need to bring their own pets (just themselves) it is more feasible for us to arrive around the same time as the client is leaving or shortly there-after (whatever we’ve agreed upon).

Several times while we were gone, I texted the house sitter and asked about everyone. She posted a few pictures of a happy Otto to her Facebook page and said everyone was “fine.”

Unfortunately, this is the risk we all take and involves trusting the person no matter if they’re your best friend, neighbour, paid house sitter or anyone.  The only solution I can offer is something called the Logitech Alert system that a current client of ours uses. ( click here for more information on the Logitech Alert system please ignore the comments this product is available for Australia)

Then I got a report from one of my next-door neighbors.   …  she said, “Well, I don’t want to tattle, but she wasn’t there every night.”

In the blog post the person did the right thing by verify-ing with other neighbours this neighbour’s story. I say this because my business (involving myself and another very experienced trustworthy pet sitter as the booking was for a long period we shared the sit “thru” my business) were accused of neglect by a client all because they believed the misinformation that their neighbour (one person) had told them.  Never mind this specific neighbour had also met the BOTH of us on multiple occasions and thus had ‘seen’ we were doing everything we could to ensure the pets were well cared for…. We had even taken the pets in question TO THEIR VET due to one of them having a bad ear infection …. and that bad ear infection had cleared up because of our vigilance.   In the end, to this day, I blame that neighbour (whom obviously had her nose out of joint for some odd reason) for the dissolution of what was otherwise a harmonious relationship between my business and this specific client.

Yet honestly if they had the Logitech Alert system they wouldn’t have to worry about finding out the truth from their neighbours.

Using a house-sitter has always seemed like the best thing to do for a whole house full of pets. However, next time, I would definitely say that no other dogs were welcome. Period.

I agree with this statement 100% !  Using a house sitter IS the best solution if you have a multi-pet household and to keep a strict rule of “no other pets on the property”.  This is one of the reasons I like to have back-up sitters for all the house sitters — if one of the house sitters will be arriving a little later then their back-up can usually come to assist.

Now onto the comments:

She flushed the cat litter!! Enough to cause pipes to back up and eventually burst.

As a life-long cat owner (servant), I’ve gone thru every type of cat litter there is on the market. I’m familiar with ALL of them and which exact ones are flush-able versus the ones that WILL clog up your toilet pipes.  Overall, we generally always ASK and if you have stipulated in your account with us that we’re to flush – that is what we will do.  If you have stipulated something else, we’ll do that.

The neighbors said they saw her come the first week or so, not at all the last week before we came home.

The comment goes on about damage to the house etc that happened due to the obvious neglect of this sitter.  As a professional and especially a business owner, I’ve tried to contract to people whom really do care about your pets just as much as their own (if not more!). This along with the fact that the system that my business uses (Leashtime) gives me a feature/functionality that allows me to see where/when someone has done their visit (as it uses the location settings from their smartphone).

It seems that the housesitter fed her twice the amount of food listed in the instructions.

This shocks me as a pet professional not just pet parent. The general rule of thumb is the same for our pets as it is for us:  if we have active pets then their kilojoule count needs to be high as they need the kilojoules for energy.  If our kilojoule count is more than the energy we’re expending including giving of treats then yes the pet will become over-weight.   This is something that is taught in any Pet Tech class.

Plus just because someone is a pet owner doesn’t mean they know anything about animals.

As a professional Pet Sittter for 25 years, I can only mention the many clients acquired after the disastrous results they had with neighbors, friends, and the always changing ‘High School/College Student’. Even if they are paid the going rate of a professional(unlikely), they do not have the responsibilty or obligation to put the needs of your household above their own.This is especially important for a multi-pet household, and yours is not that big. Stick with an experienced professional who does this work for a living and presents a caring but business-like attitude toward your furry family. Cardinal Rule- no other pets or people are allowed in the client’s home.

Yes !

I disobeyed their instructions and fed their dogs separately. No fighting, no problem. I was also told I could not walk them at the same time as they would pull my arm out of my socket. I walk them together and they do not pull me. If they walk calmly next to me, treats appear.

Unfortunately, sometimes, people WILL disobey your instructions.  If the end result is as per above – better pets – then IMO this person was doing their “duty of care” and providing a great quality service.

Make sure you are asking the right questions and make sure the prospective caretaker is asking the right questions. There are dream caretakers out there. Just make sure you have one.

I’m in total agreement with this comment and hope that we all at Gold Coast Pet Sitting ask the right questions.

we were willing to look past some initial flakiness (including not showing up for the first appointment she made to come and meet the pup) because our friend spoke so highly of her. We shouldn’t have.

I agree. If someone is willing to flippant about something as important as the meet n greet then that speaks volumes no matter how highly someone speaks of someone else.  This is why personal recommendations from other people are great (my business has grown with thanks to it!) however always do your own due diligence. Ensure it is the right fit FOR YOU 🙂

Our sitter had developed an infected knee…

Basically this comment goes on to reflect that their specific sitter had NO BACKUP PLAN for incase she was ever ill, injured or otherwise unavailable to fulfill the tasks she needed to do !  This is why I have a family of people located all over the Gold Coast as well as networked with other pet care professionals so as we can provide continued care.  I learnt a long time ago my own personal limitations.  I always offer all clients to meet whom is my back up sitter (or offer to meet me if I am the back up).

One of the commentors mentioned the following blog post which as a Professional Pet Sitter I would request ALL pet parents read: http://loyaltypetcare.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/an-open-letter-to-the-potential-client-who-requests-shared-sitting-arrangements-with-friends-neighbors/

I would add to prevent future problems, tell your neighbors that you will be gone, and if possible, have the pet sitter meet the neighbors …  And if pet sitter has a problem, knows that the neighbors are available to help.

Exactly !  I do not mind neighbours being involved as long as we can meet them and give them a business card ourselves.  This way they can contact us directly and vice versa (thus allowing you, the pet owner, peace of mind that you’ll only be contacted if there is a real need to do so).  As a pet and house sitter I feel better about “everything” if I am able to have the contact name and phone number of any of the neighbours that know you’re away.  It’s actually one of the questions when you create an account with us (we ask for the details of a “Trusted Neighbour”).

 

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Comments

  1. It’s criminal to leave the pets alone for one week without any visits. This person not just failed at the job, but needs to be arrested for neglect.

  2. Hey Elizabeth 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

    I’m not quite sure of the law in regards to neglect however they would have strong grounds to pursue a civil trial against the person to re-coupe their money as well as for their “pain and suffering”.

    We at Gold Coast Pet Sitting use Leashtime which has a feature within it that if used properly by the pet sitter can be used as proof that a visit has been completed.

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