Holiday pet care is an important issue. I know some people who refuse to go away because they worry so much about what they’ll do with their pets. On Ireland AM this week, we discussed the various options which are now available.
You can watch the video by clicking here.
Options for holiday pet care
There are no obligatory standards in Ireland (e.g. in the UK, boarding kennels must be licensed and have specified standards)
Owners should reassure themselves by checking out kennels or catteries beforehand, and preferably by allowing a pet to have a trial overnight or weekend visit. Bookings should be made as far in advance as possible
The Irish Boarding Kennel and Cattery Association promises a level of care that its members need to live up to, so that pet owners can be reassured that specified standards will be adhered to.
If you are lucky you’ll have friends, neighbours or local contacts willing to look after your dog while you are away. If not, there are other options.
This website connects up pet owners with dog-loving members of the public who are happy to mind pets in their own home. This is a trend that started in the USA five years ago, and has become astonishingly popular over there. It has been growing in Ireland/UK in the past 18 months.
There are two types of customers who use the website.
First, there are people who want to earn some cash by minding pets. A wide range of people sign up as pet minders – from professional petsitters to veterinary students and nurses to members of the public who are experienced dog owners. They all have two things in common: they enjoy the company of dogs and they are able to fit an extra dog into their home and lifestyle. The scrutineers are very selective and only approve 3 out of every 10 applications: applicants have to go through a rigorous screening process.
The second “HouseMyDog” customer is the dog owner who is looking for an alternative to boarding kennels for their pet. For these people the process is simple: they type in the area where they live, and the dates when they want to have their pet minded. A list of potential minders then pops up: they click on the minder of their choice, and the booking is made.
There are reassuring security aspects built in to the system: for example, all pet minders are covered by complimentary emergency veterinary insurance in case their pet has an accident or falls ill. And an online review system means that pet minders soon build up track records of reliability. Most people make sure they meet a new minder first (perhaps going for a short dog walk together), and ideally they arrange a ‘trial stay’ for a couple of hours or overnight, so that they can thoroughly check the minder and their home out before leaving them there for a longer period.
For pet owners who have more than one dog, rather than leaving them to be cared in someone else’s house, it can make more sense to have a pet sitter come to live in your own home while you are away. You can set this up informally, with a friend, or you can employ a professional pet and house sitter. However Trusted House Sitters offer an innovative option: having your pets minded “for free”.
You offer potential pet sitters the opportunity to live in your house, and perhaps even use your car, while you are away, in return for looking after your pets. If you live in an area that people from other countries wish to visit, this allows them to have free accommodation in return for the daily task of looking after your pets.
For Irish pet lovers, this offers the possibility of getting free accommodation in other interesting parts of the world in return for minding someone else’s pets: I spent three weeks in a villa in the mountains of Crete last summer, minding five dogs and three cats.
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