Neglected Pets-What is My Responsibility?

Published on June 13, 2012 by in Blog

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Pet sitters often struggle with some of the situations they observe while caring for pets. Let’s face it, everyone has different values and ideas when it comes to how they care for their pets. I’ve been a professional pet sitter for almost ten years now. I am very passionate about pets and I am in this business because I truly love animals and caring for them. They make me smile and laugh every single day.

I am careful to respect my client’s way of caring for their pets. Most of the time, there is a history behind why they do things a certain way. I rarely offer opinions, unless I’m asked or I see something that is just begging for my input, based on my experience. Even then, I am careful how I deliver my opinions and advice. I often hear new clients complain about their previous pet sitter offering too much advice….telling them how they should be doing things. Again, there are many ways to achieve the same pet care goal of keeping the pets happy, healthy and safe, so it is not my place to judge.

But, in the ten years I’ve been pet sitting, I’ve come across some situations that keep me awake at night and break my heart. In those situations, I get involved. Two situations, in particular, I’ve asked the clients if they would like my help to rehome their pets. In both situations, the owner relinquished their pets to me. The first situation was within two days of my asking. I believe the owner was embarrassed by the situation. She has not hired me to care for her other pets since the particular situation. Frankly, that’s OK with me. The pets she gave up went on to live great lives with their new people….that warmed my heart and is more important to me that retaining a client. The second situation took two years. It involved two dogs being kept in a back yard, year round. One had short hair. The main point here is that I offered my help and they knew to call me when they were ready. The dogs are now safely in a foster home with a reputable rescue and will get amazing homes one they are adopted.

A different situation that comes to mind involved improving two dogs’ living situation. They are hunting dogs, kept in an outdoor kennel during the day and crates inside the house at night. My sitter, Trish, was assigned to their care. On the first visit, she called me and told me she was upset that the dogs had no shade and only their small food bowls for water. They tipped their water over and the bowls were too small anyway. The owners were gone for two weeks, and temperatures were expected to hit 100 during part of that time. We talked and came up with a solution. Trish went to The Home Depot and purchased a sun/shade tarp and two large buckets and bungee cords. She bungeed the buckets into each kennel and installed the tarp over the top of the kennel. We believe both the dogs were instantly happier and more comfortable…and well hydrated! We did not mention it to the clients because we feared they might not approve. I left a receipt for the materials, and a note explaining what we did and giving them the option or not to reimburse me for everything. They never said a word, but they did reimburse and they still get us to pet sit for them, so all is well.  Sometimes, a third party, like the pet sitters, can take positive action to improve pets’ lives. Perhaps the owner just didn’t think of it.

If I don’t get involved, who will? That is a question I ask myself in these situations. Oftentimes, I may be the only one who really sees the situation. I believe I have a moral responsibility to act. Sometimes, as with the two dogs relinquished in the story above, it’s a waiting game. In the meantime, you bet I gave these precious dogs amazing care, love and attention while I cared for them. The people were not breaking the law, after all.

If you are a pet sitter, or a friend caring for someone’s pets, I urge you to really evaluate situations you view as neglectful or abusive. And then represent the pet’s best interest and take action as necessary.

Now, go love on your pets!

 

2 Responses to “Neglected Pets-What is My Responsibility?”

  1. DeAnn Robb says:

    When I grow up, I want to work for you!

  2. petsitter says:

    Thanks DeAnn! I’d hire you in a heartbeat! Let me know when you’re ready. – Julie

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