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Pet sitter emergency plans

by Therese on September 7, 2010

in Dog Daycare, Dogs, Pet Care Business News, Pet Sitting, The Pet Care Biz

The tragic death of a dog daycare owner over the weekend has had me thinking about how important it is for pet sitters to have backup plans. It’s nothing we want to think about, but the fact is any of us could be gone at any time.

Because of the type of work pet sitters do, it’s crucial to have backup plans in place in case of an emergency. And, although it’s important for any pet sitting business, it is especially crucial for pet sitters who work on their own and don’t have employees or independent contractors.

Here are some ideas to implement into your backup plan:

Keep a copy of your schedule
Keep a hard copy of your schedule on your desk at all times, and let a fellow pet sitter, family member, or friend know where it is and how to read it. If you keep your schedule online, give your login info to someone you trust.

Check in
Check in with someone on a regular basis. Whether it’s by email, phone, or text, it’s a good idea to maintain regular contact with someone. Given that pet sitters enter empty homes and apartments, and quite often late at night, this is also a basic safety precaution. Set up a plan for your contact person to implement if they don’t hear from you as planned.

Keep good records
Make sure any notes you write in clients’ files are clear and easy to understand. Write in clear sentences rather than in a shorthand only you can decipher.

Set up a plan
Write up a basic instruction document for anyone who may have to take over for you on a moment’s notice. Include your client key procedure and where you keep them, how to access your email and voice mail, where files are kept, etc. Also be sure to include a list of family/friends who should be called if necessary. Of course, in order for your backup to get to this information, you’ll want them to have a key to your office.

Even if you’re the healtiest person you know, the luckiest, or the most cautious it’s important to remember that things do happen. Even if it’s not due to your own death, there may be a time when you’ll need a backup on moment’s notice – a sudden illness, an accident, or death of a family member. Setting up a backup plan is something you can do that will make getting through the crisis a little easier for your clients, your family, and yourself.

This post is dedicated to Cristal Newell

Cristal Newell, a highly regarded and well known member of the dog daycare industry, lost her life in an auto accident over the weekend. Cristal was the owner of Mile High Mutts in Denver, and the owner of the largest dog daycare group on Yahoo. Through the group, she helped many dog daycare owners get started in the business and provided a place for veterans and newbies alike to help each other. Reading the emails on the daycare group has been enough to bring tears to my eyes – even though most of the people on the list never met her, it’s quite clear that her loss is being felt very deeply.

Cristal was also a member of PetsitUSA for a few years. We talked on the phone a couple times, and although I barely knew her, I could tell she was a very passionate person and a genuine animal lover.

My heart goes out to Cristal’s husband, children, and all who loved her.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

The Teacher's Pets September 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm

This post caught my eye because: #1, I am a professional pet sitter and #2, I never thought about what might happen to our 4-legged friends in the event of my (or my partner’s) untimely death. We have a plan in place in the event that a pet dies during a pet visit but we never thought about planning for an untimely death and I think this post helped remind me to be prepared because, as you stated, one never knows when a tragic event might happen to us and we want to make sure our furry friends get their needs met on time as well. Thanks for posting this!


Cathi Denham September 7, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I spoke with Cristal on the day care list many times during the year that my day care was being planned. She was a great help to me. I never actually met her but I feel like I knew her. I am very saddened by her death and feel like I have lost a good friend. Thanks for writing this and mentioning her and her accomplishments. She will be missed.


ChrisLWagner September 8, 2010 at 10:11 am

One of my sitters used to take her dog to Cristal’s day care. What a tragedy and my heart goes out to her family and her beloved clients. I’ve often thought about what would happen if I got in an accident or worse and couldn’t run my business. Thanks for the tips.


Vicki September 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm

This is tragic news. I couldn’t agree with you more Therese about the importance of an emergency plan. A couple of years ago I had a mysterious blackout and spent two days in the hospital. Fortunately I regained consiousness and could arrange backup coverage for my clients. But it taught me the importance of a clear and practical plan.

I sat down and wrote up a “procedures manual” for my business. Where schedule, keys, and files are kept, who my backup resources are, names and phone numbers, etc. I even put a lockbox on my house so that my helpers could easily get access to everything. I gave a copy of the manual to my sister and one to a close friend. Neither one would necessarily do the pet sits for me, but they would both be able to step in with my blueprint and find the right resources to carry on until current appointments had been covered. I sure hope they never have to!


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