Being in business since 2007, I have seen pet sitters popping up left and right over the past several years. As with every industry there are good ones and there are not so good ones. I am going to fill you in on how you can identify a reputable PROFESSIONAL pet sitting company.

Anyone can print business cards, slap some vistaprint magnets on their car and call themselves a pet sitter. So, what sets a professional pet sitting business apart from a hobbyist?

Here is a list of requirements that I recommend:

1. Business license

2. Liability insurance specific to the pet sitting industry: They should have enough coverage for the value of your home NOT THE MINIMUM coverage. They should also have a Care, Custody & Control rider added to their insurance policy. According to Pet Sitters International, “Most insurance policies today exclude coverage to property in the care, custody and control of the sitter or contractor that comes onto/into your premises/home.” Also, if the business has independent contractors (meaning someone who has their own pet sitting business) each IC should also have their own business license & liability insurance policy. Trust me on this one. I did my research years ago, and my insurance company (Business Insurer’s of the Carolinas) told me that they cover “IC’s, employees and volunteers of For Your Spot pet sitting. Then I called the State of Delaware, and the state law is different. An independent contractor is just what it sounds like INDEPENDENT of my business, and Delaware requires that they have their own. VERY important to know!

Don’t be afraid to ask to see their insurance policy and call the insurance company to be sure they are in fact covered. You are handing over the keys to your home and the life of your pets.

3. Pet First Aid & CPR certified

4. Clean background check

5. Obtained the Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting

6. Has a professional website (Not a requirement, but certainly is evidence that they aren’t a hobbyist)

7. Pet sitting references ( keep in mind these are easy to fake by giving friends and family as references). This is another benefit to the website if they have a testimonial page. Online reviews linked directly to the website are even better!

Here are 5 signs of a bad pet sitter

1. Messy feeding area: bowls should be washed and dried after each feeding, water bowls should be washed at least once a day. There should not be food scattered around the feeding are. This shows a lack of attention to detail (what else are they missing?), it’s gross, and it attracts bugs.

2. Evidence of accidents in the house: Are they missing visits?

3. Lack of respect for your property: This is just plain unacceptable! My motto is leave it cleaner than I found it. They should not be smoking on your property, leaving their trash behind, leaving the toilet seat in a position other than the one they found it in, etc.

4. Unexplained injury: I don’t think this doesn’t need further explanation. Negligence

5. Fearful or hostile pets: Animal’s primary language is not English, it is body language. They tell us everything we need to know with their actions & body language. If you return home and your pet’s demeanor is off be concerned about what has happened in your absence, and don’t take “nothing happened” as the final answer.