Pets 101

Better Business Checklist

How do you know if that hip new pet sitting service around the corner is all its cracked up to be? Identifying a company with good business practices is key not only for getting a good deal in these rough economic times, but also for the welfare of our beloved animal companions. According to The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), consumers should ask the following questions when looking for a pet sitter, boarding facility, and veterinarian:

Pet Sitters:

• Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
• What training has the pet sitter completed?
• Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet—such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
• Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
• What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
• Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training and play time?
• Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
• If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
• How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
• Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?


• Does the facility look and smell clean?
• Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
• Is a comfortable temperature maintained?
• Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
• Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
• Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
• Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow?
• Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
• Are cats housed away from dogs?
• Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
• Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
• How often are pets fed?
• Can the guardian bring a pet’s special food?
• What veterinary services are available?
• Are other services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
• How are rates calculated?


• Is the facility clean, comfortable, and well-organized?
• Are appointments required?
• How many veterinarians are in the practice?
• Are there technicians or other professional staff members?
• Are dog and cat cages in separate areas?
• Is the staff caring, calm, competent, and courteous, and do they communicate effectively?
• Do the veterinarians have special interests such as geriatrics or behavior?
• Do fees fit your budget, and are discounts for senior citizens or multi-pet households available?
• Are x-rays, ultrasound, bloodwork, EKG, endoscopy, and other diagnostics done in-house or referred to a specialist?
• Which emergency services are available?
• Is location and parking convenient?

—Compiled by Amanda Degard

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