Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Looking for a pet sitter for your furbaby while you're out of town is a daunting task and sometimes an even scarier experience (if you haven't hired the right caregiver).
Do you ask a friend or neighbor to pop in to care for your pet? Does it matter if they're insured or not? What kind of experience should they have? Will they know what to do in an emergency? What if they get sick or hurt, do they have backup?
These are the thoughts that run through my head when I think about finding a pet sitter. I am one of "those" dog moms- my babies are my whole world and I want nothing but the highest quality of care for them and I don't stop looking til I find it.
I know you can relate, so I'm writing this post from a pet parent's perspective in effort to help you find the best pet sitter in Virginia Beach for your furfamily's needs (even if it's not us!).
99.9% of pet sitters will love your dog like their own and that's amazing and a definite requirement! But not all pet care providers are the same.
Here's how to set them apart.
How to Find the Right Pet Sitter in Virginia Beach:
When I want to find a company that's locally trusted, I typically run a Google search first and start looking at the companies with the 5 star reviews. I find it's one of the few places in which you can find honest reviews that aren't "bought," like at other popular review sites. This type of "social proof" is important to me as a consumer.
Check out their website- Do they have one? (they should have one if they're legit). Does it "speak" to you and give you a warm fuzzy feeling? As you look at their qualifications, think about what is important to you in a pet sitter. Does years' of pet experience or additional pet education matter? Testimonials from clients with peace of mind? Instant updates and photos so you never have to wonder how your baby is doing? This will be unique to you. Only you know your furbaby and what will fit your family's needs.
Take a look at their About Us page. It's normal to talk a little about the company but they should also tell you about who they are as people. Do you feel like you know the people behind the company before you even contact them?
Since we opened in 2016, I've seen a number of new pet sitting businesses come and go in the Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads areas. As much as I would love to say this job is nothing but sunshine and rainbows, it's not. It requires a very special person with a keen eye for detail. When a crisis happens, not everyone is up to the task. I always recommend finding out how long have they been in business and how long they've worked professionally with animals. When you hire a professional, you're not just paying for their time spent in doing visits. You're paying for their lifetime experience and how much they've been educated/trained. You're paying for the years spent researching animal behavior, basic psychology and training. You're paying for peace of mind from someone who truly understands your pets' special needs.
I hate bringing this up because it's awful to think about, but it's so important. Are they insured and bonded? What if an uninsured pet care provider let your dog slip passed them while going into the house and your dog got hurt? Would you want to pay hundreds or thousands in vet bills while going through that kind of hell with your baby? I certainly wouldn't!! I'd expect that pet care providers's liability insurance to pay! Or what if they forgot to turn the faucet off, ruining all your floors? You bet they'll need insurance to cover that because I doubt most pet sitters have that kind of money lying around.
Are they certified in Pet First Aid & CPR? It's so important that whomever you choose to care for your pet is ready and prepared for the worst, whether your pet has major health concerns or not. What if your pet has a blocked airway from a ball lodging into their throat while playing? That caregiver better know how to give your pet abdominal thrusts to clear their windpipe. Freak accidents can happen at any time. Your pet sitter needs to be prepared for the worst. I cannot stress this enough.
That said, do they have policies in place for emergency situations? Such as: a pet getting hurt, they can't access the home, the dog won't let anyone near them, etc? What is their default vet if yours isn't available? Do they have one?
Do they have a backup person or plan in place for if the sitter gets hurt or something happens to them? Many solo pet sitters do not. I was one of them until I realized how important it was to have a team in place for my clients' peace of mind. That's the benefit of hiring a pet care company with staff- there is always a back up person in case anything pops up, along with field support and advice should they need support.
If they have staff, are they background checked? I surely want them to be if I'm trusting them to come into my home and care for my baby. This one is a must for me.
Do they use W2 Employees that they can train and have policies for, or do they use third party Independent Contractors (technically a different company) whom they legally have no control over? (IC's are what Wag & Rover uses and why there is a growing concern). I know don't want a third party in my house caring for my babies and I don't know anyone else who would. Be sure to ask if this is important to you. What's the difference between W2 Employees vs Independent Contractors?
Will they do a Meet & Greet with you and your pet first? Some pet sitting tech apps send untrained IC's into homes sight unseen where the dogs don't know them. It has led to disastrous consequences and stories in the news. A quality pet care provider will actually require a Meet & Greet prior to caring for your pet to make sure everyone is the right fit for each other.
I hope this list is helpful to you as you search for the right Virginia Beach pet sitter for your family. There is a lot of info here, so feel free to pick and choose which matter the most to you while you search. Keep your questions handy as you call around. Good luck! If you are interested in receiving pet care from one of our amazing caregivers, please fill out the contact box below and we'd be happy to get you started.