National Pet Sitters Week on March, 2017: HOW TO START A PET SITTING BUSINESS.?
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Both pet sitting and dog walking are still in their infancy as recognized professions. According to an industry expert, only 3 percent of households nationally use a pet sitter or dog walker. Even so, that adds up to 50 million to 60 million visits annually, according to the same source--and that number is on the rise. In fact, the outlook for pet sitters and dog walkers has never been better. Some estimates put the number of bonded and insured pet-sitter businesses nationwide at 10,000 (regrettably, there are no stats on the number of dog walkers).
Just a few decades ago, these two professions didn't even exist. Instead, people relied on neighbors to watch and water their pets while they were away on vacation, or they dropped them off at kennels. But all that changed in the '70s with a decrease in stay-at-home moms available to let the dog out or to take the cat to the vet. Also, young couples began postponing their plans to have a family in favor of establishing their careers and often adopted pets to fill the void. Finally, an upsurge in business travel that started in the '80s and continues today also contributed to the need for the services of a pet-sitting or dog-walking professional.
The field is wide open, so now is a great time to jump in with both paws…uh, feet!
The Low-Down on Dough
So how much can you earn? It really depends on where you're doing business and how many visits you can make in one day. Here's an easy way to estimate what you might make. Using a figure of $16 per visit, which Jerry Wentz, the president of the board of directors of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, says is the national average for pet sitters, determine how many visits per day you think you can handle. Let's say you can handle eight 25-minute visits a day. Here's the math:
8 visits x $16/visit = $128/day
$128/day x 5 days/week = $640/week
$640 x 50 weeks (two weeks off for good behavior!) = $32,000/year
Bump that up to 10 visits per day at $18 a visit, and you'll earn $45,000 per year. Ad two more visits per day at the same rate, and you're up to $54,000. Incidentally, it's customary to charge an additional $1 to $3 for each extra animal in the same household, which of course would improve your bottom line.
Will my dog sitter sue me over a $75 dispute?
She could sue you in small claims court, but over $75, it's probably unlikely. If you signed a contract for the full amount, she might win, regardless of your witness.
By the way, the National Association of Pet Sitters (www.petsitters.org) is a good resource to find reputable, professional pet sitters in the future. IMO a good pet sitter would not charge you for coming home early.
Where would I find a cat sitter to take my cat for a week?
If you want someone watching your cat 24/7, you are looking for a Pet Kennel Service. You can find a company online; or better yet, ask your Vet for a referral. If you want to keep the cat at your house, but have someone come to feed her, change litter and such, look for a Pet Sitting Service. Again, you can find the best of both by referral.
If you decide to use a Pet Sitting Service who comes to your house, make sure they are a member of NAPPS - National Association of Professional Pet Sitters www.petsitters.org is their website.
And either way you choose, make sure you have a contract that states price and what they will and won't do. Leave a number for an Emergency Contact that you trust to make medical decisions for your pet. And last but not least, make sure they are bonded and licensed.
I know it sounds like a lot, but our animals are family members and trust us to give them the safest care possible. Good luck finding what works the best for you.