Kids and Petsitting Part 1: Considerations


Kids and Petsitting Part 1 Considerations

Happy Wednesday, CHS Supporters!

Also, welcome to spring!! WOOHOO! Here at the shelter our furry residents are overjoyed to hear that summer is well on the way. In fact, I saw quite a few shelter dogs carefully inspecting the grass by our fire hydrants for signs of turning green… at least that’s what they told me they were doing (I have my doubts).

Today on the blog, we’re talking about childhood entrepreneurship… the ins and outs of kids and petsitting!

If you are like many of our shelter staff, you probably remember starting some sort of a business as a child. For many of the staff at CHS (and we’re guessing our supporters too) that childhood business involved petsitting. Who doesn’t want to get paid to play with some adorable dogs and cats?! (On a related note – we are currently hiring adults who would like to get paid to care for some adorable dogs and cats, so check out our postings if you want to keep that childhood dream alive!)

While petsitting can be a great way for children to learn responsibility (and make a few extra dollars), there are definitely some considerations to make before putting up the posters…


Advertising Safety

Sadly the world is a different place than it was when I grew up. Gone are the days of hand drawn posters taped to telephone poles. With the invention of the internet comes a new host of safety concerns for the aspiring petsitter. While posting an ad on a classified website will bring a much larger audience, it unfortunately also opens children up to potential exploitation. The good news? Staying safe as a petsitter in the Internet age is possible!

First, we recommend that children offering petsitting services stick to offering these services to extended family members, friends and people that their parents know personally. Attend the initial meeting with your child and support them in determining what will be expected of them during the petsitting time. When the petsitting job begins, use your judgment to determine if you should attend each appointment with your child for safety, even if that simply means reading a book in the car while your child completes their petsitting duties.


Pet and People Safety

Keeping people and pets safe is what we do at Calgary Humane Society. Unfortunately, sometimes petsitting can create unsafe situations for both people and pets. Below you will find a list of things to consider if your child is interested in petsitting.

  • Size/strength of the animal – does your child have the physical ability to handle the pet, even if the pet becomes excited or misbehaves?
  • Temperament of the animal – many animals may be fine with children in the presence of the owners but not do as well when the owners are not present. Only allow children to offer petsitting to animals that they (and you) know well.
  • Safe animal handling skills – has your child learned safe animal handling? If they haven’t, we recommend seeking out opportunities for them to do so, like attending clubs or camps at Calgary Humane Society!
  • Emergencies – Emergency situations can happen when owners are away. Does your child know what to do? Make sure your child has all of the important phone numbers and information from the client BEFORE the petsitting job begins.
  • Resource guarding – some dogs will guard food, toys or treats that they view as important. This can present a bite risk if a well-meaning petsitter goes to remove a bowl of food before leaving. Children should not be allowed to look after pets that guard resources without an adult experienced in how to manage resource guarding directly supervising and guiding the interactions.
  • Responsibility – Can your child handle the responsibility of providing daily care to a pet? Who will ensure that this care is completed even if the child refuses to attend?
  • Legal responsibility – Under the law in Alberta, the person who has an animal in their care and control is responsible for that animal’s welfare. This means that if an animal is neglected by a petsitter that the petsitter can be held legally responsible. If your child is providing petsitting services, as the responsible parent you have a responsibility to ensure your child is providing proper care.


Time Commitment

Petsitting can take a lot of time. Most of the time, a petsitter will be expected to at least an hour (often longer) ensuring that the pet receives care and attention each day. Does your child have the time and energy required to keep up this commitment? Will extra-curricular activities get in the way? Can the family schedule support the child attending the petsitting location at the same time each day? How will the child get to and from the petsitting location?


We hope this information helps you to consider the finer points of petsitting! Next week, we will be bringing you part 2 with some tips and tricks to successfully move forward in offering petsitting services. Did we miss something on our list? Connect with us on our community Facebook page to let us know!