Navigation

What is required to be a ‘professional’ pet sitter?

β€œIt felt a little ridiculous,” he says. β€œI never thought this was something I needed experience for.”
–Alec Garcia, in the Wall Street Journal

And what is this quote in reference to? Being a pet sitter. Mr. Garcia was turned down by a major pet sitting company when he applied. He lacked the necessary knowledge and experience for the job.
Here’s the thing–it doesn’t take a degree in aeronautical engineering to be a dog walker. But it DOES take more than just liking animals. You have to understand the body language of cats and dogs. You must know what to do when an animal is injured. You have to know how to deal with all kinds of situations –most of us work in homes with complicated feeding and medicine schedules.

Pet sitting is a great career. But it’s NOT easy money (as the WSJ suggested), and it requires incredible stamina. Most days, we have 20 or more pet visits on our schedule. This job is incredibly rewarding, but incredibly hard. Clients move away. Or your favorite cat to sit for gets old and dies. You know the heartbreak you feel when you lose a pet? We feel it, too. Several times a year when one of our beloved pet clients dies or moves away. We work long days, weeks at a time WITHOUT A DAY OFF. Burnout is a very real danger. We work holidays. Every one. I haven’t had a Christmas at home with my family since 2002.

Pet sitting is not a job you carelessly walk into. Experience is a must. Animal knowledge is a must. Loving animals is a must. An incredible work ethic is essential.

I know Alec Garcia wanted that job. With a different approach to pet sitting, and some “homework” ahead of time, he just might have a shot.CPPS-Certified-Professional-Pet-Sitter-logo

Why do we require dogs and cats to be ‘altered’?

One of the first questions we ask potential clients is whether or not their pet is ‘altered’. But why?

Well, to begin, let’s define ‘alter’. It’s just a brainy term for spaying or neutering. At Lucy’s Friends Pet Sitting, we require all animals in our care to be altered by six months of age. We began requiring this way back in 2009, after a trip to the state capital. We went to petition the department of agriculture to stop the practice of euthanasia via gas chamber. The gas chamber was a horrible, inhumane way to euthanize unwanted animals in the shelter system–nearly 300,000 a year in North Carolina ALONE. We lost the fight that day (but not in the long term; in 2014, NC shelters phased out the use of gas chambers) and decided one way to keep animals out of the shelter, and subsequently being euthanized, was to prevent unwanted pets in the first place. Thus, our new rule regarding unaltered pets. 

But there are other benefits to altering your pets. Mainly, disease prevention. Spaying eliminates the possibility of pyometra, and reduces the risk of reproductive cancers in dogs. Males have a reduced risk of cancer after neutering, and male cats typically stop spraying once they are ‘fixed’. And there is longevity, too–the Humane Society of the United States estimates that spayed dogs live 23% longer than unaltered female dogs. Altered male dogs live an average of 18% longer than unaltered males. 

The only way we’ll ever tackle the pet overpopulation problem is to adopt homeless pets and  get them altered. Lucy’s Friends is incredibly proud to be a part of such an important solution. 

Why is professional pet sitting worth paying for?

A Google search for pet sitters yields many results, including one site that proudly announces, “The most caring sitters will pet sit for free.”
To be sure, there are many people who will watch your animals at no charge. But for those who DO charge, it has nothing to do with how much–or as implied here, how LITTLE–they care about animals.
Here’s why we, and other professional sitters, charge for our services:
1. Pet Sitting is what we DO. Most pro sitters pet sit full time (like all day, every day, 365 days a year). We don’t split our time between walking dogs and working full-time at an office. Pet sitting is how we pay our bills and care for own pets.
2. We invest in our business. Pro sitters have things that ‘hobby’ sitters generally do not–like insurance (in case your dog bites someone while on a walk, or your vase from your honeymoon 20 years ago gets smashed during a game of inside fetch on a snowy day). Those insurance policies are essential but expensive for us to have.
3. Professional affiliations. Most pro sitters are members of organizations like Pet Sitters International, and that also costs money every year.
4. We invest in ourselves. Pro sitters tend to have extra training and certificates that better prepare them for the care of your animals. All those extra classes, certifications, and seminars cost money.
5. We LOVE animals! It’s why we do what we do, and why we work so hard and stay up to date on the latest care, training methods, first aid and CPR protocols, and everything else we invest in our company.

Do the most caring people pet sit for free? Not always.