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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Case of the Missing Pet Sitter

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With the holidays having just passed, a lot of us have had travel on our minds. Fortunately more and more hotels and airlines are accommodating pets, allowing us to include them in family celebrations. However, even more of us will employ family, friends, or professional pet sitters to look in on Fido, Sylvester, or Polly.

Do you wonder if your pet sitter comes at the time you ask? I also bet you’ve also wondered if they are really spending an hour with your pets as they’ve promised or if it’s more like 15 minutes. A recently asked question about this brought a few harrowing responses.

Janice Sellars from Oakland, Calif. has birds, cats, guinea pigs and a diabetic dog who requires insulin shots on a precise schedule. On the last day of her trip Janice arrived home about an hour prior to the time the pet sitter was expected. When the sitter didn’t show, Janice gave her dog his shot, fed the cats and guinea pigs and put the bird to bed. Three hours later the sitter pulled into the driveway “with no excuse as to why she hadn’t been there on time for the insulin shot.” Yikes!

Utah dog owner, Hilary Reiter shared a story of a Manhattan vacation interrupted by a phone call from the Park City police telling her that “Rusty jumped out a second floor window above a restaurant on Park City’s Main Street. He landed on the awning (thankfully) and passersby had to pull him down.” Apparently the pet sitter brought Rusty to the restaurant where she worked and, in spite of being told he had separation anxiety, left him in an unfamiliar place where he “freaked out.”

I tell you these stories because at the CEO Forum I mentioned a few months ago, I met a passionate young lady, Lisa Herickhoff, who launched a clever new business designed to alleviate some of the stress involved in leaving your pets behind in your home while you are away.

Her company, www.PETZcheckIN.com is like an insurance policy for anyone hiring a pet sitter. Here’s how it works:

The program is designed to create peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet sitter arrived as expected and the understanding that if something were to go wrong, your backup plan would be activated and you will know right away. You sign up, enter the contact information for the pet sitter and a few family and friends who could help in case of emergency, then log the times you expect your pet sitter to arrive in an Outlook-like calendar. 

The program confirms care times/dates with your sitter by sending them a link to the calendar. Then, the pet sitter simply has to call a toll-free number when they get to your house. The website sends you, the pet parent, an e-mail verifying the time the sitter provided care to Fido and friends.

During my recent two-week trip to The Galapagos Islands I texted my pet sitter four or five times just to get some kind of relief from the worry I had about my feathered loved ones. PetzCheckIn would have alleviated that anxiety and my pet sitter wouldn’t have had to deal with my texts!

The program is reasonably priced at $1 per phone call. Lisa’s working on a program where pet retailers can resell the service (in case you are interested, you may contact Lisa directly from her website). I’m going to try it next week when I have to leave Murphy and Lola behind while I travel to Santa Fe to spend Christmas with my best friend, Lynore, and her family.

Congratulations for making it through another hectic holiday season and here’s to a FANTASTIC 2010!

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