Protect Yourself and Your Furry Friends with a Pet Sitting Contract

Protect Yourself and Your Furry Friends with a Pet Sitting Contract

by Ronna L. DeLoe, Esq., February 2019

If you know you'll be away from home for a few days or even a few weeks, one of your biggest concerns may be how to arrange for pet care. After all, you may view your pet as a member of your family, and whoever takes care of your pet should realize that, too.

If you want to keep your dog or cat at home instead of bringing them to a kennel, getting a pet sitter—and a pet sitting contract—are crucial for your pet's safety and for giving you peace of mind.

Man and dog high fiving

Standard Pet Sitting Contracts

Finding a reliable pet sitter is relatively easy, as there are many qualified people who do pet sitting. Check with your veterinarian, as they may suggest a pet sitter for you. Many pet sitters work at veterinarian's offices and have daily hands-on experience taking care of animals. If your veterinarian doesn't know of a dependable pet sitter, consider asking local friends for a recommendation or checking with organizations such as Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

Once you find a pet sitter, putting your pet sitting arrangement into a contract is important because it protects you as well as your sitter. If you draft the contract or have an attorney draft it for you, you can control what's in the contract and what you expect the pet sitter to do. The pet sitter may want certain clauses in the contract, so check with the pet sitting service or pet sitter to see what they want the agreement to contain.

Contents of a Pet Sitting Contract

A pet sitting contract—which also may be referred to as a pet sitting agreement or service agreement—should contain detailed information about your pet, specific clauses that spell out the pet sitter's duties, what the sitter should do in emergency situations, and what happens if something goes wrong.

To protect yourself, your pet, and your home, it's important to hire insured and bonded pet sitters, as well as having a standard pet sitting contract. This way, you know more about who you're getting to take care of your beloved pet and who will be in your home.

You can tailor the service contract to your pet's needs, as well as your own. A well-written pet sitting or pet care contract will include:

  • Your pet sitter's name and contact information
  • Your name and out-of-town contact information
  • The beginning and ending dates of the agreement
  • Who the pet sitter should contact in an emergency if they can't reach you
  • What the sitter should do in case of a pet or house emergency
  • Whether your pet sitter will provide daily, weekly, or other notices about your pet and home
  • In-depth information about your dog or cat (or other pet), including:
    • The breed of animal
    • Your pet's disposition
    • Your pet's behavior near people or animals
    • Your pet's habits, such as scratching or chewing
    • Where the pet can and can't stay in the house, what they're allowed to do, and what they shouldn't do
  • Your veterinarian's information, and permission for the sitter to contact the veterinarian when needed
  • How to decide when the pet goes to the veterinarian
  • What medications the sitter will give your pet, and when to give them
  • Schedule for feeding, walking, and playing with your pet
  • Whether you want any overnights
  • How much money you're paying the sitter, including fees for any overnight pet and house sitting
  • Specific things the sitter should know about the house, such as:
    • Location of keys and important phone numbers
    • What the sitter's duties in the house are
    • What the sitter may use in the house
    • Any other critical information, including any peculiar things about the house
  • The pet sitter's liability, in case there's an accident involving the pet or the house
  • A backup plan, in the event the pet sitter is unavailable due to illness or other situation
  • The amount of notice to each party if someone wants to terminate the contract early
  • Which state's laws govern the contract
  • Signatures of both parties

When using a pet sitter, having a pet sitting contract is a good idea, so that you'll know what you're responsible for and what the sitter's duties are. You can travel easier, and with peace of mind, knowing that your special family member is safe and well at home.