Clinch good pet care before vacation beckons
When vacations beckon, finding reliable care for a beloved family pet is too often an afterthought, a detail to be left to a friend, neighbor or the teenager down the block.
It shouldn’t be, experts warn, and disasters can and do happen.
But with the right planning, a family holiday can be as enjoyable for the pets who stay home as it is for their traveling humans, said Beth Stultz, spokeswoman for the North Carolina-based Petsitters International, an educational organization for pet sitters with nearly 7,000 client businesses in 27 countries.
“There’s a misconception that anyone can care for a pet, but it’s a lot tougher than it appears,” Stulz said.
Find a sitter who is experienced with animals, trained in basic first aid and insured, she said, and even if you know the person, it’s a good idea to have a signed contract with expectations clearly stated.
Rachel Bowers, owner of a pet-sitting company, Brooklyn Bark in Brooklyn, New York, says, “Friends often offer to help, but they tend to be flaky and bail at the last minute, or they show up but really don’t understand that dogs need to go out three times a day and cats need their litter changed regularly,” she said.
What to do with a pet while you’re out of town depends on the type of animal and its temperament.
Many people see their pets as family members and take them along on vacations. The North Carolina-based Tripswithpets.com provides details on pet-friendly travel options.
But other animals don’t take well to travel: for example, dogs who suffer from motion sickness or stranger anxiety, or breeds prone to respiratory problems.
Kennels are a popular option, and range from modest to fullscale resorts. And then there is a home setting, either yours or that of a pet-sitter.
Professional pet sitter Kathleen Boucher enjoys backyard play time with a client’s dog in Calgary, Canada. With the right planning, a family holiday can be as enjoyable for the pets who stay home as it is for their traveling humans.