Everyone's feeling the pinch a little these days, so it's not surprising that when going away, people are looking to get the best value for money - be it from the holiday itself to the cost of taking care of their pets.
This often translates into looking for the cheapest service, but this isn't always what it seems. I and other local cat sitters have noticed recently that suddenly there seems to be a lot more pet sitters around - often charging ridiculously small amounts that it's actually difficult to see how they can do this and not make a loss. I noticed one that invited people to name their own price, and Vanessa (a local cat sitter friend) saw one that was saying they could do visits for £3 per day!!
I contacted the lady offering to take whatever people wanted to pay, to ask her a little more about her service. She freely admitted that she was doing this as a way to make a little pocket money. I've absolutely no doubt that she loves animals as she claims, and having helped out friends with their pets when they went away, she clearly does have experience of caring for animals.
But........ there's a big difference between helping friends out and taking money from people you don't (yet) know to provide this service.
When people advertise their services at very small sums, it is extremely unlikely that they're providing a professional service. By "professional service", what I mean is that they probably won't be insured nor CRB checked, they've not been trained in animal first aid, they don't have a clear agreement for you both to sign (meaning uncertainty about the services provided), and are not undertaking any form of CPD (continuous professional development) in aspects of animal care.
When you need someone to come and care for your cherished pets while you go away, you're doing this because you care about them. You want them to have the best possible time when you're not there, and you want to feel secure in the knowledge that they will receive the highest standard of care - don't you?
So even if times are a little tough, please be sure to select the right pet sitter - after all, you're spending hard earned money on yourself when you go away, so doesn't your pet deserve the same?
Some other things to think about.........
- When comparing costs, be sure you know the time period you're being quoted for. Some offer 20 minute visits, while others offer 30 minute visits. Compare on a like for like basis. If you'd like a longer visit, most pet sitters are very happy to be flexible, so ask for a quote for a different time period.
- More than anything, ensure you meet your pet sitter first. Be sure you feel happy with this person, that you can trust them to give the best possible care to your pet and your home. Trust your intuition. If one doesn't feel right for you, then arrange to meet another.
- Don't leave booking your pet sitter until the last moment. You may find you don't have time to meet others if the first one isn't right, and at busy times you may find it difficult to find any availability at all.