Whether you are looking for a pet sitter or you are starting a pet grooming business, being educated about the need for contracts and all the information the contract should include is very important. For pet owners, leaving their pets in someone else’s care is stressful. A pet sitter who provides a contract that covers the basics of all important information, from legal to pet-related, can provide pet parents with comfort.
The world of pet care has grown way beyond hiring a child on the street to stop by and feed your pet for multiple people. Finding a pet sitter with a sense of professionalism is reassuring. It doesn’t matter if you’re a full-time pet sitter or just taking the extra cash, a contract is an important detail that you shouldn’t overlook.
Why is a Contract Necessary for Pet Care?
For pet sitters, contracts protect your income and assets, and give you something to lean on in case you need to be replaced by the pet owner. This might not seem like a big deal if all the money you spent running the store and picking up a $5 bag of cat litter, but if you end up at the emergency vet with someone’s pet, you need a guarantee that you’ll be reimbursed for bills that could exceed hundreds to thousands of dollars.
A contract also helps protect the interests of the pet owner by ensuring the pet sitter will not take advantage of the situation and seek to get paid more than previously agreed. This allows you to explain your expectations about your pet’s care and how you would like the pet sitter to act in the event of an emergency or unforeseen event. A contract also ensures that your pet sitter is dedicated to the job and is not planning on taking the money and running, leaving you out of town without a pet sitter at home.
The Most Important Aspects to Include in Your Pet Care Contract
What you need to include in your pet care contract will vary from person to person or business to business, but there are a few things that should be included in all contracts. The first is a grooming and payment agreement for a particular pet or pets. You don’t want to show up at a pet-keeping job to find there are more animals than you agreed to care for. Job specifics should be in the contract as well, so you should include the contract if the pet needs medication, walks, or just feeding.
Another important thing to include in a pet care contract is what to do in the event of a life-threatening and non-life-threatening emergency. Pet owners may not be willing to change a pet sitter for a $500 pet ER visit for a broken toenail and may expect a phone call before getting treatment for something like this. However, the contract must include where the animal must be brought in in a life-threatening situation and how much money can be spent if the pet sitter is unable to contact the owner.
1. Rocket Lawyer
5 Pet Sitting Contract Templates
This contract is great because it has an easy-to-use template that can be filled out with most of the information online instead of by hand. It can be state-specific, helping to ensure you comply with the contractual obligation laws in your state. This contract is very thorough, including the specifics of what to do in the event of an emergency and a payment agreement that details what will be paid before, during and after the job. The downside to this contract is the 7 pages of legal terms, which may confuse pet owners and sitters.
2. Legal Zoom
This template allows you to go through step-by-step and fill in clear information which is then automatically added into the template. This includes a number of pieces of information, including contracts that require pets to be updated on their rabies vaccinations before pet sitters start work. At the end of the template is a section that allows pet-specific information to be filled in, including microchip information, weight/size, medical history, favorite toys and games, and favorite pet hiding places. This is another long contract with many legal terms.
3. US Legal Form
This template is a great choice as it is shorter and more concise than the previous two contracts. Legal terms are present but softened, making them easier to understand. Pet information is at the beginning of the contract, making it easy to find. This contract also allows premises for additional costs, such as if there is a fee for watering the plants. It also clearly states that pet sitters are not responsible for additional unapproved pet care. You must create an account to fill out this form online.
4. Legal Templates
These templates can be filled out on the website instead of by hand. The best part of this contract is that it is only 2 pages with understandable information, making it easier for caregivers and pet owners to accept it. It outlines pet information, care expectations, and contingency plans, as well as releasing pets. caregivers from liability for pet injury or death if it is beyond their control and releases caregivers from claims related to pet bites.
5. Time For Pets
The best part about this site is that it offers several types of pet grooming specific templates. The pet seat template is only one page long, making it the simplest option for caregivers and pet owners to understand and discuss together. There are also templates available that include medical-specific information for pets and provide vet care releases so that pet sitters can care for pets if needed. There are even key release forms for pet sitters and return agreements to their owners.
What Other Information Should a Pet Caregiver Provide?
In order to provide good care for pets at home, thorough instructions should be given to pet sitters. It’s a good practice to meet and greet before work begins so pets can meet with the sitter and the sitter can understand the layout of the house and where to find the items they need.
It must be emphasized that You can’t leave too much information. If there are multiple pets, don’t leave instructions for the pet sitter who only calls the pet by name. Provide a description of their breed, color, coat length or distinguishing characteristics so that the correct care is given to the correct pet. Information that includes where food is stored, who gets what food, when food and medicine is given, where everyone eats, what to do with uneaten food, precautions about which pets can and cannot go out or being around each other, and any other information you can think of.
For pet owners, caring for your pet in your home is second nature because you know your pet, you know where things are, and you have a routine. Your pet sitter has no exercise with your daily routine! They come in and out of many houses and take care of many pets. Specific information will help prevent mistakes and help your pet feel more comfortable with minor changes to their routine.
What about Key Handling, House Rules, and Cancellations?
This is all information that will help avoid problems by knowing in advance what these expectations are. When and where the caregiver will be given the house keys and when and where to return it all need to be discussed prior to work. No one wants to get out of town and realize they didn’t leave the keys for the nanny!
House rules are a good idea for pet owners to determine a pet sitter. This can be anything from whether caregivers can eat meals at home to whether they can be accompanied. If the caregiver is also sitting at home, provide restrictions on which rooms they can sleep in or in and out of, the tools and equipment they can or cannot use, and any other concerns they may have about other people being in the home.
Cancellation is tricky because it’s often out of everyone’s control. A cancellation fee if the owner cancels within X hours of work can be a good idea if it will leave you in a tough spot. You can also choose not to charge a cancellation fee, so it’s up to you.
Do I Need Special Insurance to Become a Pet Caregiver or Use It?
Many pet sitters who do it as a side gig don’t carry insurance. However, it can be very useful if something goes wrong. If you make a mistake during your pet care job that leads to trouble, such as if you don’t follow the owner’s instructions and allow a fight to break out and the pet to be injured, then responsibility for the costs may fall to the pet sitter. and not the owner. With insurance, costs are likely to be covered in full or in part, rather than money out of pocket. Insurance coverage can also help you in the event of a lawsuit, but it’s best to take a thorough look at the types of coverage you can get in your area.
Needing a pet sitter for any reason can cause a lot of anxiety for pet owners. A well-prepared pet sitter will provide pet owners with a sense of comfort and trust, so being organized should be a top priority for pet sitters. For pet owners, it is important to choose someone they can trust who will treat their pet as their own. For pet sitters, it is important to choose a job that provides a safe environment and thorough instruction.
Make sure everyone has all the information they need before anyone leaves town. This includes emergency contacts, phone numbers, vet information, and all pet and home care info. Contracts can help bring all this information into one place that also addresses salary and job expectations. Contracts can serve to protect everyone involved, so having a contract of your own, whether you’re the owner or pet sitter, can make things easier.
Featured image credit: RebeccasPictures, Pixabay