As I write this, I am inwardly rolling my eyes at the mere idea of hiring a pet sitter via an app, but apparently, despite the daily media blasts highlighting dangerous incidents of Wag and Rover sitters losing and abusing pets and homes, it’s still a growing thing. As a pet business owner, I read and watch all the articles, which generally focus on major catastrophes that result in dogs being killed, lost, hit by cars, beaten, traumatized by drugs, alcohol, and sex in the client home, and I think: How could these tragedies continue to happen? How could any company that cares about pets (or their reputation) live with the guilt of these negligent acts, much less still be in business? Of course, we all know it’s about money and managed risk. It’s not about animals or even client satisfaction. The creators of these digital marketplaces (that’s what they are) are not in the business of taking care of animals. They are in the business of making money. Period.
But you may not know that. That’s why I’m writing this. I am a pet parent too and I hate reading these articles because my heart can’t take the idea of needless suffering. And because I co-own a pet sitting business, I want to make sure no one confuses a quality pet sitting business with sloppy operations such as Wag and Rover. So here is the skinny. Read on to learn more.
Who Works For Wag And Rover?
Hobby pet sitters and folks who need to earn a quick buck between other gigs tend to gravitate towards digital marketplaces such as Wag and Rover. It is much easier to sign up to contract through Wag or Rover than it is to do the work to open your own business, so many people who are considering starting a pet sitting business try Wag or Rover before starting their own professional company. Unfortunately, Wag and Rover provide no training to these newbies and hobbyists. That would be illegal since training independent contractors is not legal. I’ve heard that Wag requires their dog walking contractors to watch a video on dog harnesses, so perhaps they’ve wiggled around the law, as billion dollar companies of all kinds tend to do.
What Is A Hobby Pet Sitter?
A hobby pet sitter is someone who makes occasional income by offering pet sitting or dog walking services. Frequently, hobbyists market themselves on platforms such as Rover, Wag, or Care.com because it is a no-cost way to get their name out. And when someone doesn’t want to invest money into promoting themselves, it is a sign that they are not serious about the job. Folks who market themselves on Rover and Wag have the convenience of taking jobs when they feel like it instead of committing to regular hours. This is not convenient for you, as you will end up searching around time after time for a sitter who can work with your schedule, rather than doing one meet and greet with one company who can ensure you have a walker that your dog knows and trusts when you need one. The bottom line is that what is lacking is a commitment to professionalism. Do you want someone who thinks of pet sitting or dog walking as “easy money” taking care of your beloved? Do you want someone who will only be available when they feel like it to be your go-to person? I suggest that you’d be better served by developing a relationship with a small local company like ours who invests lots of time, training and money into our business and our team to make sure we are providing the best services possible when you need us, not just when we have extra time.
Background Checks May Provide You With A False Sense Of Security In Your Wag Or Rover Sitter.
Wag and Rover proudly announce that their sitters are background checked. Background checks are standard protocol for hiring in any position involving trust, but they provide very little useful information about any pet sitting or dog walking candidate. Our company certainly orders these reports, but we don’t expect to learn whether a candidate will be good with dogs and cats from a criminal background check. Yes, they are useful in identifying whether a candidate may be likely to steal from your home, which is an important consideration. But for us, background checks are merely Step 1 in a much more personal process.
Quality Pet Sitting Companies Spend Lots Of Face To Face Time With Their Staff
Our in-person interviews include time spent walking dogs and assessing a person’s way of relating to animals and beliefs about how to be with them. Wag can’t know that a person with a clean criminal background check believes that the best way to establish a relationship with a dog is to kick him around, as shown in this video of a Wag sitter. They can’t figure that out because they are not working with him in person and assessing his knowledge or compassion towards animals.
Online Tests Are A Poor Assessment Method That Wag and Rover Use In Their Hiring Process.
Online tests with answers that can be looked up (you guessed it – online) are of little value if they are not just for the process of thinning the herd in an interview process. When we assess candidates, we can watch how they handle animals in a variety of situations because we work with them in person. Will they move to the side of the road before a car approaches? Can they handle two dogs at once (yes, this is a skill) when walking in a highly trafficked area? Do they tend to jerk on the dog’s neck? Are they watching for off-leash dogs, running children, etc.? How do they enter homes? Do they follow directions well?
Employees Vs. Independent Contractors – How Wag And Rover Shaft You And Their Dog Walkers
Wag and Rover walkers/sitters are Independent Contractors. Hiring Independent Contractors instead of employees is how big and small companies avoid paying their share of payroll taxes. Wag and Rover are cheaping out on the sitters, who must pay the taxes at the end of the year and on you because hiring contractors limits what requirements and training they can require of their sitters. In addition, should the sitter be injured in your home, good luck with hoping they have a worker’s comp policy because worker’s comp does not apply to contractors. You’ll need to rely on your homeowner’s insurance to handle this potential burden. As a business owner, I can’t imagine not covering my staff with a worker’s comp policy. Besides the extreme financial risk, I’d feel horrible if something happened and I couldn’t help with the bills. But, I’m a small business owner who has a relationship with my team. I know and care for them just like I know and care for your pets. That’s because I’m not an app, and not so far removed from the process that I don’t have to deal with the outcomes in person.
By now, hopefully, you’ve realized Wag and Rover shouldn’t be your first choice for a pet sitter or dog walker. So, how can you choose a sitter once you have ruled out Wag and Rover?
My assessment of whether any given company or solo sitter is serious starts with whether they have bothered to create a website. It’s pretty simple these days, so if this sitter can’t even sit down for a few hours to create a basic site, it’s a sure bet that they won’t be around for long, or will certainly not be available except when they have nothing more important to do. In addition, I check their credentials for liability insurance and bonding, years of experience, training, and certifications like Pet CPR/First Aid. People who want to be good at what they do know that investing in themselves is worth it. If they don’t invest in themselves, you shouldn’t invest in them. I also look at Google, Yelp, and Facebook reviews. The meet and greet is the second phase of the search process. I have provided a handy list of questions to ask potential sitters in another blog article on The Benefits of Overnight Pet Sitting. Click the link for a thorough list of questions to ask any potential sitter or walker.
If you are going to spend your time shopping around for a pet sitter and dog walker, you want one who has experience, a good reputation, and you don’t want to waste your time on someone who won’t be around the next time you need to book. Find a reputable small company, preferably with staff, and your pets will benefit from the consistency of having companions they get to know and develop a lasting relationship with.
Other Considerations When Shopping For A Dog Walker Or Pet Sitter
Choosing a local company ensures that you will have a personal relationship with the caretakers of your pets. This relationship will not develop through chatting on an app (these days, who knows… you might even be chatting with a bot). It will start at your meet and greet (or even before if you want to call or email with questions) and will develop over time via in- person, text, phone, and email communications. Small companies like ours know and treasure every client, and take great pride in their reputations. Let’s face it. One bad review can send a small company into a downward spiral, so even on our hardest days, we are 100 % committed to quality service. As far as the staffing piece, it’s a win-win. While it may seem preferable to hire a solo sitter to walk your dog every day, take a moment to consider the downside of this arrangement. Everyone needs time off. A sitter who doesn’t take days off may not be able give his or her best 7 days a week, year after year. If the sitter does take time off, that may put you in a pickle when you need a walk! If you choose a solo sitter, ask who their backup is. Some solo sitters have arrangements to share work with other reputable sitters in their service area so that they can take time off. In addition, check to see if the back-up sitter is available in emergency situations, in case your sitter has a family emergency, car trouble, etc.
What To Look For Once You’ve Ruled Wag And Rover Out
Choosing an app-based company that is a digital marketplace for hobby sitters may seem convenient, but is unlikely to solve your problems for very long. In fact, it may be dangerous or at least unsatisfying due to the lack of experienced pet sitters and walkers who list themselves on the sites, along with the fact that most Wag and Rover sitters are part of the gig economy – taking jobs when they have time, not when you need them most. If you are seeking a solid relationship with experienced pet care providers, contact a local pet sitting company with:
- a professional website
good reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Next Door (reviews on the Rover and Wag platforms can be hidden by the company)
Liability Insurance and Bonding
Worker’s Compensation Insurance for their employees
Pet CPR/First Aid Training
Additional company training to ensure the safety of pets and pet caretakers
A company that hires employees rather than contractors
If You Believe Wag And Rover Will Provide You With More Convenience, Think Again.
Small businesses will generally go above and beyond to provide you with service when you need it. A well-staffed small business will be able to accept bookings and provide you with services as quickly as Rover and Wag can.
Local Pet Sitting And Dog Walking Companies Are A Much Better Choice Than Wag Or Rover
Your dogs and cats will enjoy a solid relationship with companions they know and trust, and you’ll feel great when you leave home, knowing that you can trust your sitter or walker to provide the best care possible while you are gone.