Sunday, February 13, 2011

It Happened Again...

It happened again...another call from a new client who is calling me because they had a friend checking in on their pets while they were away, and they returned to find that the pets were not well cared for. While I am always happy to get new business, I am always dismayed to have to get it in this fashion - where someone trusted a friend, housekeeper, or *eek* a kid to care for their 2 most important things - their home and their furry family members - what they paid for.

I network with professional pet sitters across the country, and we ALL have these stories (with varying degrees of horror, unfortunately). You can even find news stories where people trusted their home and pets to non-professionals, and came home to find their pets missing, abused, neglected, or...well, let's not go there. It's heartbreaking.

I think of it a little like insurance. Why do we have auto and home insurance? What if our car is in great shape and we never get into an accident? What if our home stays safe and sound for years and nothing ever happens to it? Why should we pay month after month for insurance when we're pretty sure nothing's going to go wrong?

Simply put, because everything is fine until it's not.

So why pay for a trained, certified, experienced professional to come into our home and care for our precious pets, when we're pretty sure the neighbor or housekeeper can feed the cats and walk the dog?

The answer is in the call I got from the new client. "We didn't think it would be that hard, just walking a dog and putting down food. We were wrong." Their friend did not have the experience to recognize signs of distress and discomfort in their pets. They did not have the inclination to clean the litter box as often as it should have been - and they didn't know that cats will often start to potty somewhere else if the box isn't clean. And once they start that habit, it's difficult and time-consuming to retrain them. Their friend didn't understand the dangers of rock salt on a dog's paws (and the tummy distress that happens when a dog comes inside and licks its paws clean, ingesting all of those toxins). Their friend was doing them a favor, and not getting paid much, so after a few days of having their day interrupted by the pet sits they took on to help out, they were burned out and cut corners, without realizing how it impacted the pets. They just didn't see the signs. Fortunately the pets are okay - but the money my new client saved in using a non-professional all went to vet bills and carpet cleaning when they returned from their trip. Not to mention the strained friendship.

Those who hire pet sitters (including me!) expect more than someone coming in and dumping food in a dish and giving a quick walk to a dog. We want our pets to be happy! We want to know that while we are away, they are being loved, and nurtured, and carefully observed for signs of problems that an experienced eye will catch. We need to know that our instructions are being followed. We need to know that the litter box is being cleaned daily, not just on the last visit so it looks like it's been clean all week! We need the peace of mind that comes from hiring a professional, who has a career and reputation at stake which means the job will be done RIGHT.

While the economy is slowly getting stronger, we are all still looking for ways to save money. But when it comes to the care of your cherished furry family members - it's worth paying a little extra for an experienced, insured professional to provide the best care when you're not there. Because everything is fine until it's not. When it comes to the health and safety of your pets, I firmly believe that it's just not worth the risk. My new client heartily agrees.

1 comment:

  1. hey! just stopping by to say HI! Greeting from the pet sitter from finland!