While I am a huge fan of ABC15, I was deeply saddened when I saw this consumer report. It was done in April 2012 and I am not sure why I am just seeing it, but I wanted to push it back into the lime light and address a few things:
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It is great that they are holding people accountable and sharing that there are dishonest pet sitters out there. Although, almost always, they weren’t even a professional to begin with. I know this because amongst further investigation, I hear that it is what we, in the industry, call a hobby pet sitter. A lot like the ones you would find on the sites like Dog Vacay or care.com These are people looking to make side money and while are sometimes a great choice, still not the professional choice. To that, there is a huge difference in what type of experience a client would have.
A professional pet sitter is someone who:
- Does pet sitting to create a living for themselves. When someone is relying on the money to put the roof per their head and food in their mouth, you can bet that they will be doing the best job they can!
- They have thought about all the what – if’s before you have. They even have a back up plan for them. (AC goes out in 110 degree heat waves, dogs are is distress, etc)
- They have contracts, policies, and usually an online client management system for the ease of the client and the pet sitter so everyone is on the same page. Literally! This is also so there are no scheduling blunders.
- They have a professional company including logo, website, social media. They are a legit company, registered with the city and state. This all shows a consumer how serious they are about their business.
- Not only are they bonded and insured, but they are easily contactable! Which means that the client can seek retribution ONLY IF the pet sitter doesn’t run off. For example, this pet sitter shown in other ABC affiliate station’s “On Your Side” story who did terrible things and was impossible to get a hold of.http://bellashouseandpets.com/the-secrete-to-finding-the-perfect-pet-sitter-in-scottsdale/
As I watched the consumer report about pet sitters not staying the proper time, I was horrified. This story made it look like you can not trust any pet sitters and did not even address, what is becoming an industry standard, which is not charging by time.
I’m all ears (Photo credit: ppsa2mi)
You see, the entire industry is on a shift right now. A lot of pet sitters are doing away with charging by time and saying that they will be there for however long it takes to get the job done. Which, in many case, is LONGER than the standard 20-30 minute visits. When you charge by time, clients COULD come home to extra charges for extra time. It is our belief that time isn’t the proper barometer when determining if someone did a good job. It is the pet and client’s happiness. A pet sitter could sit in a house for 30 minutes typing texts or emails on their phones.
1. This story mentions that these consumers were paying $15-$18 per pet sit. Did you know that price is actually $3-$10 under the national average price? The average cost for a 30 minute pet sitting visit in the United States is between $20-$25. I saw the forms they showed on the news clip and that looks nothing like what real professional pet sitters do in our industry. They have all their registration and client/pet notes online now. It is a living document that both parties can update at any time. Therefor, no question to what services are being provided. When a company is charging such a low price, it makes me wonder if they are professionals or just someone on the side. That is half to less than half of what we charge per visit! There is no way that a pet sitter could make a decent living off that price.
2. Show both sides of the coin. I have been sending press releases and pitches to ABC15 for a while now. It is my plea, that if they ever have pet related stories come up, that they call me to come down and give a professional opinion on the matter relating to anything pet care. I am more than willing to shed light on any topic. I speak at National Conventions to pet sitters, been picked up in international pet magazines talking about the pet sitting industry. My company has been nationally and locally recognized in the industry. My company has been on Sonoran Living many times in the past. I am very tapped into this industry and love to teach. I would have liked to see the other side of this story. In fact, many other professional pet sitters would have liked to see it too. That is how I was made aware of it!
I believe that knowing what to look for in a professional pet sitter, what to stay away from, and what to expect would have been more valuable info for their viewers after you exposed the pet sitters gone bad. Give people some hope!
3. “Video footage of several other companies showed a similar pattern of behavior despite promises on the companies’ websites.” This is the part that makes me the most upset. This sounds like this is the norm in the industry? It is not and I can give you pet sitters all around this country that do great jobs. It was misleading and made it sound like you can not trust a pet sitter. I can come up with ten testimonies today of good pet sitting business owners, and if I know them good enough, they will probably all post comments below on this blog.
4. BBB says you should get references. Why? It is my belief that references are worthless. In fact, the above mentioned pet sitter gone bad that 3TV on Your Side had to get in on had great references! Here is why references don’t matter. What does matter is their public image, which these days, happens to be a lot online. Their social media platforms, online reviews, etc.
Rather, Why Don’t We Discuss The Types Of Things That Do Matter:
Their community reputation?
Any vets willing to vouch for them?
Do they connect with your pets during the consultation?
What can they tell you about the staff they have?
Will you be meeting with the owner or the pet sitter who will be at your house?
What does their social presence say about them (reviews etc)?
Who are they in the community?
Are they on Fb and Twitter responding to their followers in a timely manor?
Do they ask you probing questions about your pet?
Do they answer the phone when you call?
Do they have back up systems in place?
Are they an expert in their community?
What Would Have Gotten My Tail Wagging…
I wish that this story told both sides. The entire story was about how bad pet sitters are. Offering no hope or positivity or solutions. I hope that ABC15 would be kind enough to have a segment all about what to look for when searching for a Professional Pet Sitter so we can educate the Valley of the Sun for their upcoming holiday trips! If not, I have a large following on Twitter, Facebook, and a network of pet sitters internationally… so I am pretty confident that this blog can get a lot of mileage! With the holidays upon us, this could be extremely valuable information to 6 out of 10 households who have pets.
I reached out to ABC15 for a comment and my request went unanswered from the station.