Should the Four-Legged Family Members, Fish or Fowl Go on Vacation this Year?

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Pet Sitters International advises pet owners to book in-home pet-care early as summer demand is on the rise.

An estimated $841.6 billion will be spent on travel this year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Add to this the fact that 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet and the dilemma is apparent. Will the four-legged family members, fish or fowl benefit from a vacation as well?

“Probably not,” according to Pet Sitters International (PSI) the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters.

“Pets are creatures of habit and typically prefer their own familiar surroundings,” said Patti Moran, PSI president. “Memorial Day is the informal start to summer travel and pet owners should make in-home pet-care reservations early so they are not settling for less than desirable arrangements at the last minute.”

To avoid unwanted stress, pet owner Michele Cornish leaves Hamilton, her 4-year-old Shar Pei, at home when she vacations. She learned the hard way that her dog wasn’t cut out for traveling.

“Hamilton suffers from anxiety and the stress of traveling caused him to excessively groom himself, which resulted in areas of raw, infected skin,” Cornish said. “What was even worse was the hyperventilating that occurred when he was brought into unfamiliar surroundings. Overall, it was a scary experience, not a vacation.”

Cornish is part of the pet-owning population that is increasingly using the services of in-home pet- care professionals. According to PSI’s most recent State of the Industry Survey, the association’s 7,000 members make more than 18.5 million visits to almost 750,000 clients each year. Dogs, cats, birds and fish comprise the majority of pets cared for. Cage pets, reptiles, horses and livestock are also part of the service mix. Services offered by these professional pet-care givers range from basic pet care and dog walking to overnight sitting and care of special-needs pets.

The association reports that that the 2012 spring and summer travel season is expected to be one of the busiest in years.

Likewise, some PSI members are reporting that they are being booked earlier in the year by pet owners with summer travel plans. Jordan Di Marco, PSI’s 2011 Pet Sitter of the Year™, says more pet owners are booking in advance, especially for the summer holidays.

“Memorial Day is booked for me, the Fourth of July is almost fully booked and I already have a couple of bookings so far for Labor Day,” she reported.

Di Marco, who started Dogma Catma Pet Sitting in Boulder, Colo., in 2006, is candid with clients who are pondering the possibility of traveling with pets.

“If a dog or cat is extremely social and can easily accommodate a change in routine, then I advise clients to give it a try,” she said. “Ultimately, the most important question a pet owner should ask is, ‘Will my pet be both welcome and comfortable every place I plan to travel?’”

If the answer is “not exactly,” then Di Marco suggests that pet owners call ahead to confirm the accommodations or investigate other options.

She’s quick to point out that a bonded and insured in-home pet-care giver like her is not only a smart choice, but a convenient one.

For a complete list of questions to ask a potential pet sitter, visit the PSI Web site for a free pet-sitter checklist. To locate a professional pet sitter in your area, please visit

About Pet Sitters International
Founded by Patti Moran in 1994, Pet Sitters International (PSI) is the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters, representing more than 7,000 independent professional in-home pet care 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