Planning, Pampering and Prevention are Keys to Staying Off Pet’s ‘Naughty List’ this Holiday Season

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Pet Sitters International and its nearly 7,000 member businesses offer suggestions to help guarantee that people and their pets end 2011 on a safe and healthy note.

Requests for professional pet-care services typically increase tenfold during the holidays. Travel commitments and holiday gatherings top the list of reasons for booking services, making December one of the most profitable business months for most in-home pet-care givers.

Pet Sitters International reached out to its nearly 7,000 member businesses for suggestions to help guarantee that people and their pets end 2011 on a safe and healthy note.

“The best advice I have for pet owners is to just know that this service is available during the holiday season to make your life easier and to give your pet an outlet and some much needed one-on-one attention,” Juanita Facteau, owner of Angels with Furry Souls in East Burke, Vt., said.

Last year, PSI member businesses performed an estimated 18.5 million pet-sitting visits. Throughout the holidays many of PSI’s member businesses are booked at least a week in advance, with some booked to capacity several weeks ahead of time. Because of this, Shannon Pester, owner of Pet Parade Plus in Kingston, Ontario, advises that pet owners should make reservations early.

That’s not the only advice this pet sitter of 10 years had to offer. Pester also highly recommends clients leave emergency contact numbers.

“This is typically a standard procedure for my business,” Pester said. “But I have found it is something that pet owners often overlook due to their lengthy to-do lists this time of year.”

Professional pet sitters provide services from basic dog walks to care of special needs pets and everything in between. PSI’s 2011 State of the Industry Survey found that nearly 59 percent of its member businesses offer overnight sitting services for pets and 40 percent provide house sitting without pets.

Cynthia Johnson, owner of Copy Cat & Dog Care in Lebanon, Ohio, believes the services that pet sitters offer can be extremely beneficial, especially as a theft deterrent, during the holidays.

“While my clients are away from home and I’m pet sitting (or house sitting), I make sure to ask them if any deliveries are expected while they are gone,” Johnson said.

Bringing in the mail is just one way pet sitters help take care of clients’ homes. Professional pet sitters have also helped save the day, the house and the pets when emergencies like frozen water pipes, electrical outages and leaking toilets arise. Johnson has learned that preparation is key to handling urgent situations like these when clients are away.

“I ask pet owners to provide the contact information for their heating and plumbing companies in the event of furnace malfunctions or frozen pipes,” Johnson said. “With the likelihood of inclement weather, it’s also imperative to know if clients have made arrangements for snow removal.”

And she’s not the only professional pet sitter with winter weather advice. Rani Portalise, owner of Care 4 Paws LLC in Parsippany, N.J., reminds clients of the possibility of storms and power outages.

“I always ask my clients to keep a flashlight handy, as well as towels to dry off pets that are wet from the rain or snow,” Portalise said.

Complying with these suggestions will ensure goodwill from professional pet sitters, but Facteau may have found the key to keeping pet owners off their pet’s naughty list this year.

“The best way to share the joy of the season with your pet is to provide him or her with a pampered pet visit from a professional pet sitter,” she said.

To find out more about professional pet sitters or to locate professional pet-sitting businesses in your area, please visit

About Pet Sitters International
Established in 1994, Pet Sitters International (PSI) is the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, representing nearly 7,000 independent professional pet-sitting businesses in the United States, Canada and abroad. PSI provides members with access to affordable bonding and liability insurance as well as educational resources that include a comprehensive Certification Program, Pet Sitter’s WORLD magazine, The Scoop e-news and PSI’s annual Quest convention. For more information, visit, home of the Official Pet Sitter Locator™, or sign up to receive The Scoop on Pet Care. Visit the PSIStoreOnline, the largest specialty retailer of products for pet sitters and pet-sitting business owners.


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Courtney Klein