You hear it from tradespeople all the time: LICENSED, BONDED, INSURED. But what does it mean for a pet sitter to be licensed? Is it necessary? Do you know if your pet sitter is licensed?
In the world of professional pet sitting, being licensed means only one thing: You have paid a fee to your city for the right to do business in that city. It's usually a nominal fee, and some cities require it while others don't. It's basically a revenue-generator for the city, which isn't a bad thing, but it doesn't mean as much as you may think. I first opened my pet sitting business in a city that required a business license, so I would pay $50 a year for the right to do business in that city. I moved my home and my business to Phoenix, a city that does not require pet sitters to have a business license. Per the city of Phoenix web site: "The City of Phoenix does not have or issue a general business license. Only certain cities are regulated and require a license or require a recommendation/approval from the city." In our city, those activities are amusements, auction, curb painters, escort bureaus & escorts, massage, sexually oriented businesses & performers, and vending. So unless you're running "Dirty Doggie Dates" on the side, your pet sitting business would not need a license in Phoenix.
Though being licensed sounds pretty official, and it doesn't hurt for a professional pet sitter to publicize the fact that they are, having a business license does not mean that your pet sitter has been through any special training or is any more qualified than another pet sitter. By contrast, a licensed massage therapist has been through courses and training in order to hone their craft. Being licensed means they have training.
So if being licensed as a professional pet sitter does not mean your sitter is more qualified than an unlicensed pet sitter, what should you look for to make sure you are getting a qualified service provider?
• Bonded and Insured. Being bonded and insured doesn't necessarily mean your sitter is more qualified, but at least they have the proper protection for both parties.
• Pet First Aid/CPR training. Though not often used, a pet sitter who is certified in pet first aid and CPR has been through a course giving them that designation.
• Professional Groups. Being a part of a professional pet sitting group such as Pet Sitters International shows a commitment toward education and professional standards.
• Experience and references. How long has the pet sitter been in business, and what do their references say?
By learning about the experiences of your professional pet sitter and by checking their references, you should have a pretty good idea of your sitter's qualifications. And by building a long-term partnership in the care of your pet, you'll feel confident that you've made a good choice. But the license? It doesn't have a much clout as you might imagine.