Dog Sitters

One of the greatest difficulties when planning a vacation is finding a dog sitter.  Sometimes, family members or neighbors are pressured into the task of caring for a vacationer’s pet(s).

While working in Roanoke Virginia, I was shocked at the number of incidents in which pet sitters began turning in the pets (in their care) as strays.  In many incidents the pet sitter got tired of the task or just felt bullied into the job.  In most cases, the owner decided to extend their vacation without consulting their pet sitter.  In most of the cases, the pet sitter did not make the owner aware that their pet had been turned in to the shelter.

When surrendering a pet as a stray, the shelter staff conclude that the owner is unknown and will eventually discover their pet missing and will start the search for their lost pet.  If the owner is unaware of their pet sitter’s deeds,  It is possible, even likely that the animal could find a new home prior the to owner’s return.

The lessons to be learned here are:

  1. Make sure your pet sitter wants the job of caring for your pets and that he/she is reliable.
  2. Leave clear instructions with your pet sitter as to how to handle any emergency:
    1. Someone to call as a back up pet sitter.
    2. Which veterinarian to use.
    3. Your phone number.
  3. Although I am not a fan of microchips, microchip your pet.  If the pet sitter is thinking of abandoning your pet, he/she will likely take off a collar.
  4. Leave a description (with photo) of your pet with the animal shelter prior to going on vacation with contact information.  It would not hurt to introduce your pet to the shelter staff and the front counter so that they might recognize your per should it arrive “as a stray”.
  5. Check in periodically with your pet sitter and discuss any changes to your return date.
  6. Have a neighbor confirm that the pet sitter is on the job.

One of the best ways to ruin a vacation is to come home and find that your pet is living in another home.  When planning your vacation, plan for your pet as well.  Above all else, never force some unwilling person to care for your pet.