Pet sitting is the act of temporarily taking care of another person's pet for a given time frame. It commonly occurs at the pet owner's home, but may also occur at the provider's home or at a pet sitting place of business or organization. Pet sitting is a more personal and individualized arrangement for care compared to boarding or kenneling. Specialized training is usually not required for pet sitting.
According to Pet Sitters International's 2016 State of the Industry Survey, its members completed 17 million pet sitting assignments and generated more than $391 million in pet sitting revenues in 2015. Many pet owners prefer hiring pet sitters instead of the more traditional pet care options available. Reasons people used pet sitters included:
- A possible reduction in stress levels, due to the pets being cared for in their own homes
- A desire to prevent "travel trauma"
- The minimized exposure to illnesses and parasites from exposure to other animals
- Less rigorous vaccination requirements than those necessary at a kennel.
- It allowed pets to stay on regular routines and prevented the need to adapt to a new environment
- Convenience for pets with health problems and mobility issues due to arthritis, dysplasia, incontinence, etc.
Many new pet sitting businesses are emerging due to high levels of pet ownership and relatively low barriers of entry.
In many areas, no occupational license is required for pet sitters. The term "licensed" is often used by pet sitting professionals to refer to licenses to do business, kennel licenses, and/or animal transportation permits available within the coverage area of the business. While licenses are not needed in all areas, they may be required in specific locations.
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Pet sitting may offer a variety of services including exercise, cleaning, well-being checks, and more traditional services such as vacation care.
Vacation care is the most typical instance of pet sitting. While a pet's owner is away on vacation, a pet sitter will usually visit the client's home several times. The exact length of each visit is determined by both pet owners and pet sitters, typically averaging 15–45 minutes. Common services making up vacation care include providing the pets' customary diet and exercise routine, monitoring health, administration of medications, vitamins, other special care, and arranging for medical treatment in case of illness. Most pet sitters bill clients on a per-visit or per-day basis, including additional charges for multiple pets, travel expenses, and special tasks. Less commonly, pet sitters may offer live-in care. Pet sitters may also provide house sitting in conjunction with vacation pet care.
Pet sitters commonly provide dog walking services. Clients often hire pet sitters to exercise and care for their pets if they are unable to do so. This is particularly prevalent in dense urban areas, where pet owners often lead busy corporate lives, and are hence unable to care for their pets.
Pet sitters may also offer other more aggressive methods of exercise for dogs during dog walking appointments. These methods include jogging, running, inline skating, bicycling, or dog scootering with client dogs.
Commercial dog walkers in some regions are required to obtain a license for dog walking along with inspection of the vehicle that is used to transport dogs for commercial walking. Such licenses sometimes limit the number of dogs that can be walked at one time.
Some pet sitters may also offer additional pet services, such as dog boarding, dog grooming, or veterinarian care. These additional services are often subject to special regulations and licensing requirements.
Insurance and bonding
Most professional pet sitters are insured through pet sitter insurance providers. Most pet sitting insurance providers are country-specific. The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada each have firms insuring pet sitters.
As of 2016, the major American and Canadian pet sitting liability insurance providers include limits from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000 for liability claims. They also include an uncommon endorsement that provides coverage for care, custody, and control of the client pets from $10,000 to $200,000 per occurrence. Coverage is included for fire damage, lost keys, and other negligence claims. The major UK pet sitting insurance providers claim coverage limits between £2,000,000 and £10,000,000. The limits for liability claims generally range from £2,000,000 to £5,000,000.
Most pet sitter insurance plans provide coverage for pet transport. The majority of pet sitting industry insurers also provide care, custody, and control liability coverage for all animals, excluding the loss from income from an animal that may be used for other business ventures such as farming.
Some resources recommend that pet sitters be bonded, though many professional organizations in recent years have held bonding to be unnecessary.
Pet sitters are generally not protected from injury to themselves by regular pet sitting liability coverage. pet sitter liability insurance usually covers injury to other people and pets.
A dishonesty or fidelity bond claim generally applies when a pet sitter is convicted in criminal court of theft from a client home. When the pet sitter is convicted, the bond will reimburse the client for the loss, and then seek reimbursement from the pet sitter. This process can take many years to complete, and usually relies on a criminal law court conviction.
Many pet sitters have decided to seek actual insurance coverage for theft instead of procuring a bond. Theft insurance coverage does not require convictions, and can include coverage for accidental breakage, mysterious disappearance, and accidental damage to items in a client's home.
Certification and accreditation
Pet sitting organizations offer training, testing, or review of credentials for pet sitters in the form of certification or accreditation. The curriculum of pet sitting programs may include pet care, health and first aid, animal law information, nutrition, and behavior, and/or business development and management.
Certification that is credentials-based may require the pet sitter to provide a criminal background check, proof of insurance, proof of bonding, certificate of completion of a pet first aid program, documentation of business methods and policies, or other evidence of their professionalism and adherence to industry standards.
It is common for pet sitters to obtain a separate certification for pet first aid. Hands-on training can be obtained through private businesses and organizations like Red Cross. Virtual classes are also available.
- Stultz, Beth. "Pet Sitters International releases 2016 State of the Industry Survey results". Pet Sitters International. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
- Hunter, Marnie. "Make sure your pet enjoys your vacation, too". CNN. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Dunsby, Megan (21 January 2015). "Business ideas for 2015: Pet sitting". Startups. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Griswold, Alison. "Dog-sharing is the new hot thing in the sharing economy". qz.com. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
- Williams, Kale (14 July 2013). "Commercial dog walkers must follow new law". SFGate. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- "Interim Permit Requirement for Commercial Dog Walking in GGNRA and the Presidio". National Park Service. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2015.