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The Pet Sitter Advantage

While you're away, love for your pet and a watchful eye on your home

Pets are part of your family, but often your furry friend must stay home when you go on vacation. Some pets do fine staying at a kennel, but others are much happier guarding the house until you come home, with a little help from a pet sitter.

A pet sitter provides basic needs such as food, water and walks. Just as importantly, a sitter can give pets love and attention.

Pet sitters can be hired to visit your home daily or even to stay overnight. Some sitters invite pets into their own homes for play dates. Many will collect your mail, water your plants and keep an eye on your home, adding to your sense of security while you’re away. They provide a professional alternative to asking a friend or neighbor to look after your pet.

A Stress-Free Stay

For some pets, a kennel stay can be stressful. And just as children in day care can give each other viruses, pets exposed to other animals can contract animal-borne illnesses.

Linda Schnorrbusch of BellaLinda Pet Sitting plays with “client” Shyla.There are a lot of dogs that have separation anxiety,” says Linda Schnorr­busch, owner of BellaLinda Pet Sitting in Millstone Township, NJ. “In a kennel, pets have none of the comforts of home.”

Schnorrbusch has been in business for 10 years. She says hiring a pet sitter also reduces stress on the family because many pet owners don’t feel comfortable boarding their pets. “I know people that never went on vacations because they were worried about their animals,” she says. “But now, they go three or four times a year.”Cost of Care

Thomas Goldfarb, owner of Happy Tails Pet Sitting in Warrington, PA, says he has yet to meet an animal he can’t take care of. In business since 1992, he has cared for not only dogs and cats, but also monkeys and potbelly pigs.

Goldfarb’s rates are similar to other area pet sitters. He charges $20 for one 30-minute visit, $35 for a one-hour visit and $60 if he stays overnight at your house. Visits include food, walks and attention.

Claudia Todd, owner of The Content Critter in Newark, DE, offers a variety of pet-sitting packages. For example, “Jolly Hound Holiday” costs $295 and includes three visits per day for seven days.

Building Trust

Hiring a pet sitter means allowing a person access to your home, which is why it’s important to hire someone your family — and your pet — can trust.

For More Info

BellaLinda Pet Sitting, Millstone, NJ, 732-266-9450,
www.bellalindapetsitting.com

The Content Critter, Newark, DE, 302-235-7387,
www.thecontentcritter.com

Happy Tails Pet Sitting, Warrington, PA, 215-808-1604, www.thomasgoldfarbphotography.com

Linda Musika’s Pet Service, Lansdale, PA, 215-362-0647

The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, headquartered in Mount Laurel, NJ, 856-439-0324, maintains a list of members, searchable by zip code, at www.petsitters.org

Pet Sit Finder, run by Pet Sitters Associates, LLC, will list anyone who fills out an application and pays a $20 annual fee. www.petsitfinder.com

Pet Sitters International, King, NC, 336-983-9222, maintains a searchable sitter finder at www.petsit.com/search

Linda Musika, owner of Linda Musika’s Pet Service in Lansdale, PA, says that prior to caring for a pet, she visits the family to gather info and to meet the animal. She suggests that you see how your animal reacts to a pet sitter and that you obtain and check references.

Musika works as a pet sitter full-time, has four part-time employees and sometimes hires additional help in the summer, when business is busiest. She says she hasn’t hired anyone she hasn’t known for at least five years. Todd runs background checks on her employees through the Delaware State Police.

Ask if a pet sitter is insured, bonded, or both. Insurance covers issues such as accidental property damage. Bonding ensures reimbursement if, for example, something is stolen while you’re gone. Musika is insured, while Goldfarb, Schnorrbusch and Todd are both insured and bonded.

Musika says she rarely meets an animal she doesn’t get along with.“I get so involved that they’re like children,” she says. “Except they never talk back and they never have a bad day.”

Leah Mafrica is a MetroKids editorial and marketing assistant.

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