kidsdogsSocial media is circulating a story about a dog lost/sold by a petsitter found through the Holidog site.  The company say they check sitters, but no information about how they do this.  It isn’t the first time a dog has gone missing, been stolen or lost when being looked after, but it does make you wonder about the standard of checks done.

In this latest story, the owners appear not to have visited the home of the sitter as the report claims her address is actually the local cooperative store.  So how did this sitter get onto the Holidog list?  Surely the basics would be a home check and ID shown?  Whilst the company says they offer liability Insurance, it’s not clear who and what this covers and there seems to be no requirement for sitters to have any insurance?

The owners were told their dog had escaped, but it ended up rehomed via the pound.  A lot of questions to ask about whether dog was chipped, why this sitter has disconnected her number and vanished.  I hope the owner or company takes legal action when they find her.

I am the Behaviour Adviser for Pet Education Trust.  We are drawing up lists of ethical businesses and individuals to help people choose.  I would expect a company listing individuals as appropriate sitters to do at least the following before listing:

  • Home visit the sitter to check fencing, other pets, situation
  • Ask for a vet reference or other appropriate ref if they have no pets
  • Take copies of photo ID
  • Insist they carry insurance
  • Provide them with a contract to use for owners bookings
  • Conduct criminal record checks

For understandable business reasons, many sitter companies keep contact details of sitters private until their fee is paid and also contract with the sitter to prevent them from booking directly with a client and working for other companies.

If you were leaving your dog with someone wouldn’t you go to their home first?  It appears in this story the owners didn’t, but how did a false address get past the company?

I’ve seen so many cases on social media of someone with an unvaccinated pet, no money, appealing for someone to mind their pet.  Advice is ridiculed with “oh hun, I know x and they are amazeballs pet lover” or even abused when you suggest something as simple as at least a contract.  Many of these ad hoc arrangements result in people having pets dumped on them or them being sold or given to the pound.  With no agreement in place, few get back to the owner.

What should an owner need to know or see in a contract assuming they have checked the above:

What happens if a pet is ill in their care or has an injury?

What happens if your pet damages anything?

Is there a contract between you?

What will happen in a veterinary emergency?

Does the sitter have their own transport available at all times?

What arrangements are in place should your pet not settle, not be able to stay with your chosen sitter?

This last point I often have to advise people to ask.  The contract for one company allowed them to move the pet to another sitter should they feel it was necessary, without informing the owner and also did not allow contact between sitter and owner.  The company collected the animals and took them away.

The majority of these arrangements go well, but as there is no regulation, we advise caution and check carefully anyone you are entrusting pets with.

Holidog have been sent a request asking for information about their policies.  When they respond, we will add it here.

The current story we mention here


About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

One response »

  1. Pamela Jack says:

    This post is an eye-opener, as a recently set up home boarder myself.
    I have endeavoured to be as professional as possible, only offering a boarding contract after assessment of the client’s dog, ensuring potential clients have a written T&C sheet, and they sign a contract with me to say they are happy with T&Cs. As I don’t co-board dogs from different households clients often ask me for alternatives if I am booked, and I have offered companies such as Holidogs as an alternative option. I do however recommend that they request to meet and inspect potential facilities, and to steer clear if this is refused. My clients are offered as long as they like, including repeated appointments if they feel their dog’s behaviour may be an issue, or if they’re not sure how they will cope without their dog especially if it has never boarded. The Covid pandemic seems to have wrought a swathe of owners who have unsocialised dogs with deep seated issues, it’s a minefield.

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