We don’t have to tell you twice that dogs are apart of our family which is why it can be so difficult to leave them behind when we travel. Not only do we miss them but it can also be extremely difficult to find someone trustworthy to watch them, especially after the recent incidents in the news. Whether you’re traveling for vacation or work this summer, Shannon Sardella Arnold, owner of Oh To Be A Dog, a dog walking and sitting service based in NYC, recommends asking the following questions to properly vet a business before allowing them to care for your pet.
1. What background checks are done for pet care providers at the company?
As with any person coming into your home, you want to make sure those people are properly vetted so be sure to ask about their background check systems. This will help you determine if the pet care provider is trustworthy and if you are comfortable letting them into your home to care for your pet.
2. What is the owner’s experience?
One of the biggest things to look at is the owner of the company. So many start a business because this field/industry is a booming one but that doesn’t mean all owners have experience or the proper training and therefore cannot implement certain safety procedures as well as properly train staff. Asking about the owner’s experience (how long they’ve been in business, certifications, etc.) as well as the staff’s experience can help you get an idea of how your dog will be cared for.
3. Are the staff independent contractors or actual employees?
So many companies, like WAG! use independent contractors rather than real employees. This can be an issue because they are just that, independent. Under certain laws an employer cannot require a contractor to be on time or accountable, meaning you and your pup could suffer the consequences.
4. Do they provide references upon request?
References are another way to vet the pet care provider. You want to know what other people’s experiences have been with this provider. Did they show up on time? Did their pet enjoy the walk and/or stay. Did anything happen during the stay that you would want to know about? If yes, how did the pet care provider handle it? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you determine their level of training and experience with animals as well as help put your mind at ease while you are away.
You can also take it a step further and search for them on services like Yelp! to hopefully get some unbiased reviews.
5. What is the company’s policy on training? Does staff have medical and emergency training?
Training is extremely important so you want to make sure you know their policy. How does the company know their staff is ready to walk and handle your dog? Do they have first aid training? Can they administer medication if needed? What type of safety precautions are taken to make sure your dog is safe if they escape? These are all important questions to consider.
6. Does the company have some kind of accountability system so you know your pet is being properly cared for?
Does the company have a tracking system? That is the lure with WAG!, but what happens if they don’t show up? How do you ensure your pet is getting a nice long walk that you were promised? For example, we use Pet Check Technology that allows our pet care providers to scan in and out at the home of the client. The client is notified when we arrive and leave. You can also see a real time map of where your pet was walked as well as receive photos.
Having a pet or security camera in your home also isn’t a bad idea when you have a sitter staying over. This can give you peace of mind while also being able to check on your pet (and some pet cameras even allow you to give them treats while you’re gone)!
7. Are they bonded and insured?
If a company is bonded and insured that means they have insurance and have purchased a bond to protect against any losses, theft, or damage. This means the company takes the job seriously and wants you to rest assured that they will take care of things if anything were to go wrong (but hopefully that will never happen!).