We are going on holiday in a couple of months and usually take our two Cairn Terriers along with us, but this time it is not possible. Does anyone have experience of using kennels or petsitters? How would I go about finding a reputable organisation?
We would always recommend most strongly that anyone needing a petsitter should choose one who has been registered, vetted, visited and insured, as is the case of all members of The National Association of Registered Petsitters. NARP is the Trade Association for the petsitting industry and is the largest petcare organisation in the UK. NARP has registered more than 10,000 experienced petsitters throughout the country. The Association is not an agency and does not get involved with bookings or any other arrangements.
Many members of NARP are agencies that have been approved and there are also thousands of individual members (many who work with their spouses/partners) to provide the most kind, caring and reliable petcare services which range from boarding dogs/pets while the owners go on holiday, walking dogs while the owners are at work, similarly caring for all other pets from cats to rats to rabbits to birds.
NARP is non profit making and part of the funding of the Association comes from subscriptions to the National Register of Petsitters. However, for readers of Dogs Today NARP offers a FREE subscription to anybody who needs a petsitter.
To find a registered petsitter in your area simply visit www.dogsit.com and follow the links to 'need a Petsitter?' Click the button 'Subscribe' then simply fill in the form, making sure to include your postcode (on which the search will be based). To get your free subscription enter 'dogstoday' into the Promotional Code box at the bottom of the form. You will then see a list of current registered petsitters starting with those closest to you by postcode. The Key will show you which services each member offers. You can then make direct contact with any of the members who offer the service you require and negotiate with them regarding any bookings and payments.
Robin Taylor, Chairman, The National Association of Registered Petsitters (NARP)
A quick search through the internet will bring up a host of kennels and pet sitting orgaisations. It is then a matter of contacting them to see what they can offer and which one gives you the most confidence. Bearing in mind the dogs are valued members of your family, you have to be completely happy with the arrangements made for their care. Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Always visit kennels to make sure they're clean and the that the dogs have some attention and exercise. Be aware that most kennels are not set to give the dogs one-to-one compnay in the same way pet sitters can.
You need to be sure that your pet sitter has back up in case they were unable to undertake the booking for whatever reason, so it is best to use an organisation rather than a single person. Check the back up system, insurance and expenses. It is good to know what percentage the sitter is earning from the total fee and what extras there are. My own opinion is that dogs are much happier in their own homes with a petsitter so that their routine will alter as little as possible. If anything they have more attention than the owner normally has time to give.
Gillie McNicol, Director, Animal Aunts
If you would like to leave her dog with a pet sitter, it is vital you ask whether the pet sitter has valid insurance (public liability
insurance) and whether she has a home boarding licence which is granted by the local authority.
It is a legal requirement for anyone offering a pet boarding service to have a valid licence (which should be displayed in the property). Most local authorities also arrange for a vet to officially inspect the property for suitability.
Unfortunately, too many pet sitters are offering a home boarding service without insurance and an appropriate licence which is compromising the entire pet care profession.
Police disclosure/check certificates and references from customers are also valuable things to look out for. As is membership to a professional body such as Pet Sitters International.
Victoria Reinthal, Managing Director, Paw Pals (UK) Ltd
It’s very sensible to be looking at suitable arrangements for your Cairn Terriers well before your holiday.
When you go away, your dogs will miss you – their human pack. If you remove them from their territory and their human pack, they may suffer significant separation stress. So the kindest and best arrangement you can make is to leave them at home in their familiar environment following their normal routines – ie have a petsitter.
The things I would recommend looking for when selecting a suitable organisation are:
- a company that takes a very full brief from you on the dogs, including feeding and exercise routines, health, medication, temperament, behaviour on encountering other dogs, where they like to sleep (important if they will expect to sleep on the sitter’s bed!), etc
- a company that thoroughly vets its sitters, interviews them in person, investigates their pet experience and recruits
candidates with genuine warmth towards animals. And gets feedback from clients after every assignment to check that the pets were well cared for
- a company that arranges for you to meet your petsitter well before you go away to make sure that you and the dogs like them
- a company that provides full backup ie i) a real live person (not a telephone answering machine) available 24 hrs per day should the sitter require advice and ii) a suitably qualified replacement sitter immediately available should your sitter be
- a company with longevity. If an organisation has been around for a good number of years, they must be doing something right and they will have a good reservoir of knowledge and experience in looking after dogs.
Adele Barclay, Managing Director, Homesitters Ltd
Our view is that your dog is always happier in their own home or that of another family where they will receive lots of love, attention and exercise that they would normally get at home.
The clients are happier when they have met the carer and seen the environment where their dog will be staying. If used regularly the dog becomes used to the carer and the new environment and looks forward to their holiday when their owners go away.
Tracey Eden, Franchise Support Manager, Petpals (UK) Ltd