This article is from the rec.pets.dogs: Assorted Topics, posted to rec.pets.dogs newsgroup. Maintained by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.
In some cases, you can find friends or neighbors willing to take care of your pets while you are gone. But another option is a professional pet sitting service. Look for ones that are licensed and bonded, and have an excellent set of references. Talk to several people who have used their services to see if they will meet your needs.
Check with the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Members must sign a code of ethics and can be removed if there are complaints. They can give you a list of pet sitters in your area. You can reach them at 1200 G Street, N.W., Suite 760, Washington, D.C. 20005. Their brochure includes their code of ethics, and includes a list of what to look for in a reputable pet sitter; see list below.
Another one is Pet Sitters International. It was founded by the original founder of the now defunct NAPS, Patti Moran. The address and phone number of PSI is:
Pet Sitters International 418 East King St. King, NC 27021 (910) 983-9222
Ask the company if they're bonded or insured. See if they'll send someone more than once a day. Ask for references from previous and current customers. Some will bring the paper and mail in and help make the place look "occupied;" that's a plus.
Check the potential sitter for the following:
1. Does the pet sitter furnish written literature describing services and stating fees?
2. Does the pet sitter visit the home beforehand to meet with the client and pet to obtain detailed information?
3. Does the sitter arrive on time?
4. Does the sitter get along with your pet? Does the sitter exhibit confidence and ease with your pets?
5. Is the pet sitter courteous, interested, and well informed?
6. Does the sitter have written references?
7. Is the sitter willing to give you names and numbers of former clients for references?
8. Does the pet sitter have a service contract which spells out services the pet sitter will provide and fees for doing so?
9. Are the company and/or sitter in good standing with the Better Business Bureau?
10. Does the pet sitter have regular office hours or return customer inquiries promptly?
11. Is the sitter recommended by someone you trust - either your vet, trainer, dog show buddies, etc?
12. Does the pet sitter have a veterinarian on call for emergency services?
13. What contingency plan for pet care does the pet sitter have in the event of inclement weather or personal illness?
14. Does the company have a training program for their sitters?
15. How does the pet sitting service recruit and screen applicants? Are there any prerequisites for employment?
16. Does the pet sitter or pet sitting service telephone to determine if the client has returned home as scheduled or require that the client notify the company or pet sitter of their arrival home?
17. Does the pet sitter or company provide a rating form for customer feedback and evaluation of pet sitting services?
18. Does the pet sitting service have an established system for handling customer complaints?
19. When does the sitter get paid? Before or after you come back? A deposit up front and the rest later?
Try to find word of mouth recommendations. You might try calling several vets in your area to see if they have any recommendations. Check with the local SPCA and with Better Business Bureau for any specific complaints lodged with a particular business.
Look around for a good one. Experiences can be good or awful depending on the kennel.
One resource: The American Boarding Kennel Association (ABKA) is based in Colorado Springs. You can use this organization to help you choose a kennel. If you write to them (or call them), they will send you a small packet of information. One part is a booklet on how to choose a kennel, and another part is a list of all ABKA accredited kennels around the country.
An ABKA kennel is supposed to meet a minimum set of criterion that is spelled out in their literature. The things they suggest you look for and questions to ask involve a lot of common sense stuff, but there are good suggestions you might not think of.
4575 Galley Rd., Suite 400A Colorado Springs, CO 80915 719-591-1113