With March Break rolling around, it’s vacation time for many—and a busy time for pet sitters. If you’re booking a sitter for Scooter, make sure you’ve taken the right steps to keep him safe should he stray while you’re away. Sadly, the Ottawa Humane Society receives dozens of reports from frantic pet sitters every year, and admits too many others who have escaped the care of even the most watchful pet sitter. And when an owner is away, getting their pet back home is often not straightforward—and can result in a prolonged and stressful shelter stay for the pet or sometimes, tragically, the pet not making it home at all.
What can you do to keep your pet safe while he’s being cared for by a pet sitter?
- Make sure your pet is wearing ID, both visible (a collar and tag) and permanent (a microchip…need one? Visit one of our monthly microchip clinics!). This is just as important for animals who are “indoor only” pets, as a change in caretaker or environment increases the chance that they will escape.
- If your pet’s tag has your home phone number on it, make sure someone’s checking your messages, or place a temporary tag on your pet with a number someone can be reached at while you’re away (your pet sitter’s number, or your cell number).
- If your pet is microchipped, contact your microchip company to have your pet sitter’s information added as an emergency contact.
- Most shelters will not release an animal to someone’s care without proof of ownership. Make sure your pet sitter has proof of ownership, and leave a letter allowing your pet sitter to act on your behalf while you are away.
- Leave a photograph of your pet with your pet sitter, so that if he does stray, the photo can be shared to help locate him.
- Let your veterinarian know you will be away and leave instructions should anything happen to your pet. Leave your veterinarian’s contact information with the pet sitter, as well as a number where you can be reached in case of emergency.
- Make sure your pet sitter is aware of your pet’s habits so that they can be prepared: is your cat likely to startle and bolt at loud noises? Is your dog likely to take off after a squirrel?