The professional pet-sitting industry is growing rapidly with numbers over 25,000 being reported because many pet owners feel that there are advantages to using pet sitters, rather than traditional pet care options. Reasons people use pet sitters include:
- Possible reduced stress on pets because pets are cared for in their own homes,
- No "travel trauma" to pets because they do not need to be transported anywhere,
- Exposure to illnesses and parasites of other animals is minimized,
- Required vaccinations are often less restrictive than those necessary at a kennel,
- Pets stay on their regular routines and do not need to adapt to a new environment,
- Not having to deal with neighbors, friends or family members feeling that they are inconvenienced,
- Convenience for pets with health problems and mobility issues due to arthritis, dysplasia, incontinence, etc.
New businesses owners are attracted to the industry because of the large number of pet owners in many industrialized countries, as well as the low input cost and entry barrier to the industry.
Professional pet sitters are often licensed, and insured for liability including care, custody, and control of the pets in their care. Many pet sitters are also bonded or insured for theft. Pet sitters usually have training, such as pet first aid certification, animal husbandry classes, or pet sitting accreditation. A number of professional organizations exist to help pet sitters improve their services. It is not entirely uncommon for pet sitters to be interviewed prior to being given the job.
In many areas, no special 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. These licenses may or may not be required, depending on the location. Licenses are not available in all areas.
There are many different services which can be offered by pet sitters.
During vacation pet sitting, a pet sitter visits a client's home several times, as required. The exact length of visit is determined by both pet owners and pet sitters, averaging from fifteen to forty-five minutes. Typical services offered include: providing the pets' customary diet and exercise routine, administration of medications, vitamins, and other special care, monitoring health 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 offer live-in care. Pet sitters also provide house sitting in conjunction with vacation pet care.
Pet sitters also commonly provide dog walking services. Disabled clients and the elderly often hire pet sitters to exercise and care for their pets if they are unable to do so.
Pet sitters may also offer other more aggressive methods of exercise for dogs during dog walking appointments. These may include jogging, running, inline skating, bicycling, or dog scootering with client dogs.
Commercial dog walkers in a very limited number of regions are required to obtain license for dog walking along with inspection of vehicle that is used to transport dogs for commercial walking and limitation over 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 industries 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, and currently are limited primarily to the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada.
As of 2016, the major American and Canadian pet sitting liability insurance providers include claim limits from 2 million to 4 million or higher per claim 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 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. That recommendation has been dismissed by many professional organizations in recent years.
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 home.
Other insurance topics
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 other pets.
Certification and accreditation
A variety of pet sitting organizations offer optional 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 to support their professionalism and adherence to minimum pet sitting industry standards.
It is common for pet sitters to obtain separate certification specifically in pet first aid. Hands-on pet first aid and CPR training classes are offered through such well known organizations in the U.S. such as the Red Cross, as well as through many private businesses specializing in pet first aid training. Virtual classes are also available for pet sitters who do not have hands-on classes available in their area.
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- Dunsby, Megan (21 January 2015). "Business ideas for 2015: Pet sitting". Startups. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- 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.