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“Licensed, insured, and bonded” pet sitters

by Therese on November 27, 2007

in Pet Sitting, The Pet Care Biz

Many pet sitters say they are “licensed, bonded, and insured” and proudly display it on their marketing materials and websites. What does all of this actually mean though? Insurance and bonding are pretty straightforward, but it’s the use of the word “licensed” that can be a bit confusing.

Insurance
Pet sitter liability insurance works much like any other insurance. It covers accidents that may affect the client’s pets or property while the pet sitter is on an assignment.

Bonding
Bonding is most appropriate for companies that hire employees. A fidelity bond (or dishonesty bond) usually insures a business in the event that an employee steals from a client. If this happens, and the employee is found guilty of theft, the bonding company will pay for the stolen items. Many sole-proprietors are bonded, but this is mostly for their clients’ peace of mind.

Licenses
A business license and a professional license are quite different, and anyone who hires a pet sitter should know what those differences are.

Business License
A business license is a permit, issued by a governmental entity, that allows an individual or company to operate a business in a particular geographical area. It can be issued by a city, town, or other entity, and can be issued to a pet sitter, a retail store, a bookstore, etc. – not just pet sitters. This type of license does not imply that the person obtaining the license has any expertise in the business he or she will operate.

Professional License
In order to work in certain professions, one must take specified coursework and then pass a test. Passing the test shows (ideally!) that people know their stuff, and it earns them a license to work in that profession.

There are no professional licensing requirements for pet sitters. Anyone who wants to open a pet sitting business can do so without any formal training, and no licensing tests are required. Many pet sitters have taken pet related classes such as pet behavior, dog training, first aid, or business courses. Some pet sitters even take pet sitting business courses offered by private companies or trade groups, but classes such as this are not legal requirements to operate a pet sitting business.

So for many pet owners, when they see “licensed, bonded and insured” they assume the pet sitter has gone through some licensing coursework and testing. Since there are no professional licenses for pet sitters though, this isn’t the case. I don’t think pet sitters are intentionally trying to mislead potential clients this way but it can certainly be misleading for those who don’t realize there isn’t a pet sitter license.

I would like to see more pet sitters clearly state that they have a “business license” rather than just saying they are licensed. Either that, or simply leave off the fact that they have a business license. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary as most businesses that operate in a professional manner do get the necessary business licenses and other permits for their area. And, of course, if a client were to ask if a pet sitter has a business license it would be a simple yes or no answer.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber May 15, 2008 at 7:40 pm

i am trying to start my own pet sitting business and found this informtion usefull. i was wondering if there is someone that can help me get started with this particular part of the business building experience. Thanks for the info!

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Therese June 19, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Take a look at our industry resources section, where you’ll find quite a bit of information on how to start your own pet sitting business.

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Serena White May 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

I am interested in starting a Dog Walking business in Oklahoma. I need to know where I could get lincensed and bonded at a reasonable rate. All other helpful information would be appreciated. Thank you.

Serena White

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Vivian June 19, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Hello, I am trying to open start a dog walker business. I have been reading about bonding and Insurance. Does anybody know how I can go about doing that? Any pointers?

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Rick September 5, 2009 at 11:35 am

Business or hobby?

As a person who has several indoor pets, and a concern about my home when I travel, I have resisted hiring anyone to look after my pets for one simple reason – trust.

Do I hire a young student who is taking veterinarian courses in school, and who is offering a pet sitting service as a summer job? Do I hire a retired couple who is looking to supplement their income?

Do I hire a business that is in fact a business with a business license, insurance and bonding (not that bonding is really required, but it sound good)?

Who is really accountable if something goes wrong. For the student mentioned above, they can simply stop doing what she is offering, the registered business on the other hand has image, reputation, future business, and investment to protect and should be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that the client’s interests are looked after. Then again, there are unscrupulous businesses as well.

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Shelly September 8, 2009 at 7:38 pm

I started doing pet sitting and would like to be licensed and bonded. How do I apply for this?

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Therese September 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

Hi Shelly,

The only type of licensing available would be a business license. Call your local county clerk’s office to find out the requirements and how to apply. Many insurance and bonding companies offer bonding. You can also get something similar to a bond, along with pet sitters insurance from Pet Sitters Associates: http://www.petsitllc.com. See our Industry Resources section for help getting your pet sitting business started: http://petsitusa.com/resources.htm

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Donna Roberts August 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I am interested to start a pet sitting business. please send me whom I shall contact to be bonded, etc.,

(boots1@q.com)

I have to cats, now 15 years old. Had cats mostly all my life. Love all pets. I am located in Central Phoenix Arizona.

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morgan April 5, 2012 at 9:45 am

my name is morgan im 19 and want to a start a pet setting job for a side job befor college in going to vet tech school but want some money for side stuff whatshould i do first?????

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Krissy February 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Morgan if you are still woundering what to do i would suggest you fist finish vet tech school and then figure out how to get the liscence then go for it!! because i also want to do that but i am only 13.

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Misty May 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I reside in SoCal in a rural desert area. Came across this article through a search as I seem a local ad in my area seeking a “licensed & bonded” pet sitter. Honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone being licensed and bonded to pet sit but now I understand why it’s needed.

I wondered besides caring for dogs and cats if this business licensing and bonded/insured covers you for boarding horses within a private residence or if thats a whole other scenario? I have 8 covered, secured stables with its own corralling. I have two of my own horses but still have open stalls. I am currently a renter of the property but I’m sure if I got all my details together the property owner wouldn’t have any issue with me boarding especially that shes an owner of a dozen horses herself.

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