Who is responsible for damage done by a dog or other pet at a pet sitter?

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It seems simple enough. You drop your dog or cat (or other pet) off at a pet sitter and take off for your vacation or work trip. The pet sitter seemed to love animals, your fur baby will get a lot of attention while you are gone, and you are paying a reasonable fee that you agreed on with the sitter.

What could possibly go wrong?

A lot. The internet is crawling with stories from both those who watch pets and those who have left pets with sitters regarding situations where things went awry. Some examples:

  • The pet sitter who ended up wondering who was responsible for the veterinary bills are the dogs she was watching got into a fight.
  • The owner who hastily left his rambunctious pup with a pet sitter he knew little about and got a call halfway through his trip that he was being charged double their originally agreed upon amount because said pup was too hyper and had chewed through a phone cord, done other damage to the sitter’s apartment, and scratched the sitter.
  • The pet owner whose pet sitter took the dog for a walk and refused to pay the veterinary bills, feeling that the sitter was responsible when the dog got off leash and was injured.

So, who is responsible for damage done by a pet when he is being watched by a pet sitter?

This is a question that is asked over and over again.

Laws are complicated and vary by location, so we can’t really attempt to answer the question specifically. But, we can offer some advice for choosing a pet sitter to help make sure you don’t end up regretting your pet sitting choice or paying more than you planned to.

Even if you are like the man in the first example and don’t have a lot of time, it doesn’t take long to find out three key things about your potential sitter, and it can save you a lot of grief in the long run:

1) Does your pet sitter have pet sitting insurance? If your sitter is insured they are much more likely to have piece of mind and less likely to to try to to stick you with damages done to their premises by your pet. This is also a good sign that you are dealing with a responsible sitter versus someone who is simply trying to earn some quick money.

You can also ask what company they are insured through. What they are insured for specifically and what is not covered. And if they would expect you to pay for any of the non covered type of incidents if they were to occur.

2) Does your pet sitter have a contract/pet care agreement? This is a little bit of paperwork to fill out on the part of the pet owner that usually allows you to give the pet sitter authorization to get veterinary treatment for the pet if needed. It also gives you a chance to note any of your pet’s behavior that a sitter should be aware of such as jumping up on other people or chewing of furniture, chews, etc.

3) Does your pet sitter have reviews, endorsements or testimonials? If you find your pet sitter on a pet sitting website or their own business site, they likely have reviews or testimonials. Take the time to read them over. Or, do a Google search. You can also ask them for references from other customers in the forms of names and phone numbers or emails.

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