Planning a vacation also means that you have to plan for the care of your bird if you are unable to travel with your pet. There are several options available to most bird owners that include boarding your bird at a pet store or vet, take your bird to a friend or relatives house, have a friend or relative come to your home and take care of your pet, or hiring a professional pet sitting service.
When considering a professional pet sitting service you will need to do a little homework before you entrust your pet to their care. The first step is to get recommendations from other bird owner’s who have used a pet sitting service. Ask them what they liked and disliked about the service and whether they would use them again. Also, call the attorney general in your state, the Better Business Bureau, and any licensing agencies and check their record. Then the next step is to call the company and set up an interview with the potential caregivers.
- Are you licensed?
- Are you bonded and/or insured?
- Do you have service contracts?
The business should be properly licensed and insured. Check with your local and state agencies to verify that the company is operating legitimately. Get a signed contract that states what services you will be receiving and how often they will be provided, and make sure the contract lists the itemized charges for each service. Make sure the contract clearly states what liability the company will take if an unexpected accident happens while you are away.
- Who will be responsible for the care of my pet and will that be the only person taking care of my pet?
- What type of training does the person have and where did they receive it? Educational? Medical?
- Does this person have any experience with birds? If so, what? And with which species of birds?
- How long has the person been employed at your company?
- Who were the previous employers?
- Does the company do a background check on their employees?
You want to be sure that you can trust the company employees and that they are qualified to take care of your bird. Ask for references and thoroughly check those references. Having the same person come in each day and care for your bird is a big plus.
- How many other pet sitting obligations will this employee have during the period your pet would be under his/her care?
- What precautions to they take to prevent the transmission of disease?
It is important that the company can fulfill their end of the contract by not overbooking their employees. Make sure the caregiver can come at the designated times staying as close to your normal routine as possible. This will help minimize the stress your pet may feel in your absence.
It is imperative that they take the necessary steps to prevent the transmission of disease. In all likelihood, you will not be the only client hiring the service. Make sure that the employees wash, change clothing, shoes, etc., between appointments.
- How many times a day will they come to your home and how much time will they spend during each visit?
- Will they interact and play with the bird?
- Will they clean the cage?
- Do you have to prepare your bird’s food in advance or will they cook for your bird?
- What is the cost of each service?
Know exactly what to expect from the company and how much you are paying for it. You will want to hire a service that is willing to provide all aspects of daily care including cage cleaning, and play.
If all of the questions are answered to your satisfaction and you are comfortable with the potential care giver, then set up an appointment for him/her to come to your home. Introduce your bird(s) to them and observe how they interact and answer the following questions:
- Is the person afraid of your bird?
- Is your bird afraid of the caregiver?
- Is the person knowledgeable on how to physically handle the bird?
You want to be sure that the caregiver and your bird get along and they your bird is completely comfortable with this person. Trust your instincts and ask for another employee if you are not satisfied with the potential caregiver.
Also during this time chat with the employee to find out how knowledge they are about your species of bird or birds. Ask questions about diet, medical problems, emergency care, restraining a bird, wing & nail trimming, bathing, how birds play and talk, etc. You need to be sure this person will recognize an ill bird and knows what to do in case of an emergency.
Now, you have found a company that you are satisfied with, you have a signed contract, and you are all packed and ready to go, but you still need to check up on the company. While you are away, call home during the scheduled visits and take to the caregiver. As an added precaution, if possible, tell a trusted neighbor the times of the expect visits and ask them to verify that the visits took place. If your neighbor is willing, you can ask them to check on your bird each day just to make sure everything is going well. Also, leave your neighbor a number where you can be reached and don’t forget to buy them a really nice souvenir.
Authors note: Part 2 of this article will be featured in the December issue of Winged Wisdom. Part 2 will cover the topic of bird care instructions for your pet sitter.