Watch Tip: Non-pro Petsitters

Posted on February 26th, 2010 by Anna Nirva

Weekly Watch Tip for week of Feb. 28

Watch to make sure your neighbor’s petsitter is visiting regularly while your neighbors are on vacation. If you don’t see evidence of visits such as fresh food and water, lights on, or new tracks in the yard, check with others nearby, or call your neighbors wherever they are.

Petsitters and animal caretakers can always be trusted to do their jobs, right?

The short answer to that question is NO, not always. And with the owners far away, who would ever know? Professional petsitters and animal caretakers are excellent resources who deeply care for animals; making this less lucrative career choice tells you something about their commitment to and love for animals.  Non-professionals such as trusted friends who are also animal lovers may be excellent as well. Casual non-professionals can be extremely high risk, as these two recent stories illustrate.

A couple in Newfoundland, Canada arranged for a “friend” to care for their two dogs, a female Golden Retriever and an elderly male retriever mix, and cat. They leash-tied both dogs and let the cat roam in the house. Food was enclosed in a bathroom with the door shut. Weeks later, law enforcement officials found a heartbreaking scene. The female Golden Retriever was found dead, flat on the floor in the kitchen, extremely emaciated, still tied. The elderly dog had slipped his collar and was nearly dead (he survived perhaps by eating feces of the others, and is recovering). The cat was found dead in a cat crate in a dumpster in a nearby town!

Read more here, but the photo is very graphic and will haunt you.

A couple in Wisconsin, USA left their 6 horses and 4 dogs in the care of a housesitter for the winter while they were down south. The housesitter was picked up for drunk driving and was in jail for a few days. The animals suffered lack of food and water during that time, and one mare became very ill with a suspected troubled pregnancy. When the caretaker returned he was unwilling to call the vet despite urgent requests by local rescuers, and the mare declined further. With intervention of local law enforcement and a state HSUS official, she was euthanized to end her extreme suffering. But with timely professional care, she might have been alive today to graze on hay in the sunshine.

If your neighbors’ pets or domestic animals are under the care of someone else while the owners are away, please keep a watchful eye every day to make sure visits are occurring, and take appropriate action if you suspect a problem.

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