From my perspective, and I will not hide any biases – from my perspective as a Professional Pet Sitter, the difference lays inherently in the experience and education. I’m not saying that X amount of years caring for pets means that you are a professional pet sitter – you can have 5 years experience in 5 weeks if you visit enough pets, it’s the experience you have been exposed to and if you have taken the time to always learn how to be the best. I would consider my staff professional pet sitters – while some of them have only been with me for 3 months, they have gone through extensive training and learned just about everything I know from the past 22 years of running Little Paws Pet Sitting. They have been educated and have been equipped with the tools to handle every situation, from human to pet. Having that access to that amount and quality of information, the brand, the direct connection to the person that makes the decisions or being that person that makes the final decision is what for me, denotes a professional. Who cares if a sit gets missed, an accident occurs or an emergency happens? An owner of a pet sitting company, whether solo or staffed to the 9’s does – it’s their life! How they have trained to handle the issue that occurred or put procedures in place for their staff to follow to make certain the number one priority is the client’s pet – makes that person a professional pet sitter in my book.
For now, no regulatory authority exists to determine if a person providing care for your pets is professional or not. Until then – as a pet owner, ask the right questions. Ask what experience that person has, ask what is their backup plan, ask what their emergency plan is, ask what education they have completed to make certain your pet is their number 1? They should be educated, possess current business licensure/permits, use a contract, provide background checks, and provide insurance.
A professional should go the extra mile, they should have every tool available in their tool box and they should have the experience of how to use them. AND they should physically be able to care for and help your pets!