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When Pet Sitters Go Wrong

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Posted (edited)

Long post alert! I haven't posted for ages on the Forum although I do read through the posts regularly.   However I've just had an experience that I feel I have to share to prevent this happening to anyone else.  

 

My hubby and I had a holiday last week.   We used to have family look after our pets but due to illness, house moves and work, it wasn't possible this time.   We only used a cattery once and my cats were totally traumatised - plus it didn't help with the problem of feeding the goldfish and tortoises.  So I had the great idea of getting a pet sitter in.   

 

I chose a local company, relatively new but with great reviews and assurances of her love for animals.  I met up with her twice and really liked her, was impressed that she had enough about her to start a small business as that is close to my heart.  

 

She wrote everything down about my pets to make sure they would be well looked after and confirmed that she would call in twice a day and I would get a text every day to let me know they were okay.  I honestly thought that if this worked it would be the perfect long standing agreement for every time we went away.   I handed over my key and she sent me a message saying I should relax and enjoy my holiday. 

 

She called at lunchtime (not early morning as agreed) on the first day.  And she never came back.  

 

I realised by the end of day 2 that something was wrong - I had a camera that showed no-one had been to the house.  My dad had to travel over - he has cancer and was recovering from the latest round of chemo, which is why we hadn't asked him before.  He found that the cats had been eating grass and had thrown up everywhere.   The torts and fish can survive a few days without food, the cats get dramatic if their food is half an hour late.  We had to cut our holiday short and come back early. 

 

Despite multiple attempts to contact this woman, I've had no response or explanation.  And most worrying is that I haven't been able to get my key back.  

 

Im sure the majority of these businesses are totally dependable.  However lessons learned for anyone using similar services ( unfortunately I won't be )

a) only use businesses that are long standing and well established 

b) ask to speak to previous customers  - the business could have posted their own reviews

c) check with your house insurers that they will cover you if the key is handed to a third party and your house is then burgled.  Apparently most don't. 

d) make sure you have cameras - if I hadn't, my animals would have been at the vets now or worse. 

e) check that the business has a plan in place should anything happen to them.  No idea if this woman is in a coma somewhere or is just a scammer, but whichever it is, there could be someone else's pets right now that are suffering due to her lack of planning/honesty. 

 

The police are now involved and we are looking at passing the cost of new locks on to this woman.  Locksmiths are here, we are looking for solicitors and additional cameras and I'm very stressed.  Not how I expected to be spending the last few days of my holiday.  

 

I hope this helps prevent this happening to anyone else and their pets.  

And apologies to all the genuine businesses out there who really do care about animals and wouldn't dream of doing this to anyone.  

Edited by Joey
Grammar

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What a horrible situation, I hope you manage to get your costs covered at the very least from this awful person! It beggars belief that someone could dice with pets lives like that. 

 

I had a bad experience with a Barnsley based dog home boarder once. Our dog sadly got attacked by another dog just before our holiday, and so had staples in her leg. We contacted the boarder and asked if she could still be accommodated as she would need 24/7 supervision. We were ready to cancel our holiday but she assured us this was no problem.

 

A few days later we got a call from our friend who was down as an emergency contact saying he was taking her to the vets as she'd been left to pull every single staple out of her leg! Luckily the friend kept her the rest of the week, but she was left with a large scar and we'd paid for care we hadn't received. The woman hadn't even had the decency to call us and apologise herself!To be honest we wrote the money off - we were too upset at the time to pursue this woman for it.

 

Now our dog stays with our friend if we go away without her, we're very lucky. 

 

On the other hand we have a dog walker who comes to let our dog out if we're both out for the day, as well as feeding/cleaning for our cats if we're on holiday and he's spot on - totally trustworthy and reliable.  Used him for years and years now. Mark from Impawtant Friends if anyone needs a recommendation for someone good :)

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What a horror story, thank goodness that you realised that no one was coming to the animals, disgusting behaviour of the pet sitter,  barring something terrible happening to her I just cannot think of an acceptable excuse for what she did.

 

Would you please message e with who this was? I wouldn't like anyone else to go through this.

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Even if the sitter had had an awful accident or worse, surely she should have contingencies in place, knowing that animals lives depend on her?

 

Would you mind messaging me with the person's details, do I can avoid them please. I would be very grateful

 

Cheers

 

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This is awful to read, must have been very traumatic for you and your animals. Agreed with the earlier posters, that even if it was a serious incident that meant the person couldn't come to your place, you would have thought there would be contingencies in place. Especially as you contacted a company.

 

Have you tried speaking to the company about it? 

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Did you check out her insurance ? did she have a current DBS , did you have her home address ? did you check her references out ?  these are important questions to always check , I am a pet sitter I hope I would do a better job than that , ok sometimes if you have multiple pet visits you may have an emergency  but you text to say you are running behind , last week one of my customers was burgled , which meant I had to stay around waiting for the police etc , Now all my cat visit customers were  informed  , that's how any  pet business should function  as they have to receive the best care . This must be awful to have to deal with . 

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Hi all, thanks for your replies.   I'm less emotional now and more logical about it all.

 

We had our locks changed which took away my main concern of her coming back and stealing from us.   My main concern since then has been any other animals she's agreed to look after, as well as the fact that she has dogs herself.  I really do wonder if she is fit to look after animals at all.  And don't get me started on the fact that she has a child as well.

 

She blocked me from seeing her personal account on Facebook, and she seems to have closed the business Facebook account down.   I'll share the details privately with those who have asked - still looking at involving solicitors at this point to try and retrieve the money for the locks, so don't want to do anything that may stop that.

 

Teeny - she showed me an insurance certificate, although I must admit I didn't scrutinise it.  I know the road she lives on, although not the number.   I met with her twice and was really impressed with how professional she seemed.   And from stalking her FB page (on my husband's account as she's blocked me), I know an awful lot about her partner and life.    Her references were from people whose dogs she looks after regularly, and seemed very genuine - even had pics of her with the dogs.  I have vowed to keep an eye on her going forward - any sign that she's even thinking about setting up again and I'll be naming and shaming her on every bit of social media I can find.

 

Eddie_shef - the company is actually just her and she's totally ignoring me.  The police have advised against  going to her house as it may escalate - I'm calmer now than when I first talked to them, and I think they thought at the time I might try and punch her :D    Or worse, take my husband with me, which would definitely have led to an escalation!

 

My family have all said that no matter what, they will look after the pets for us in the future, and in fact my niece has now decided she will house sit for us also - so I will be more worried about parties than the animals on my next holiday :D.

 

 

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This is disconcerting as we are looking at getting a pet sitter for the first time as we'll be away for two weeks and it would be a bit much to ask a relative to stay over for that length of time.

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We were away over Easter week an had our dog walker in to see to our cats. He was excellent as usual - my tom cat had been out and had a fight so the dog walker took him to the vet for us, administered medication for the rest of the week and doubled his visits from once to twice a day to make sure all was ok.

 

Anyone needs details for a reliable, trustworthy person (NW Shef), let me know!

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On 02/05/2019 at 11:42, taxman said:

This is disconcerting as we are looking at getting a pet sitter for the first time as we'll be away for two weeks and it would be a bit much to ask a relative to stay over for that length of time.

not all pet sitters are like this , or we wouldn't be able to trade .

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That's awful. I'm very sorry this has happened to you :( do you mind me asking which area of Sheffield you're in? If you're close to me, I wouldn't mind going round to feed your animals free of charge. I'd be happy for you to come to my house to meet me and my family before hand, so you know where I live. Ive grown up around animals, had had reptiles as a younger kid. I'm in s12 if this is any good for you. 

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Ahh thank you Bertyboop, that's so lovely of you.  My niece is going to house sit for us next time, so it's all good, but your offer is so very much appreciated.

 

And to echo Teeny's words, I know I was just really unlucky as I can't imagine any normal person who loves animals ever doing this.    I just picked the one person in 1000.  Please don't let my story put anyone off, but do your checks thoroughly and pick someone who is very well established.  That's where I fell down.

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