You’re headed out of town last-minute and forgot to book service for your dog. You call the neighbor kid down the street. It’s only for a couple days. No big deal, right? Unfortunately, a number of things can go wrong (and do!) when someone else is taking care of your pet:
- The pet could escape
- The pet could bite someone (or another animal) or even the pet sitter herself
- The pet could become injured
- The pet might break, destroy or soil something inside your home while unattended
- The pet sitter herself may get injured
Will you be held responsible? If you hire a pet sitter or dog walker without insurance, you may ultimately, be on the hook.
Pet owners have a lot of choice when it comes to the care of their pets. Twelve years ago when we started Peak City Puppy, there were only a handful of dog walking companies in Apex, Cary and Raleigh and most of them were one-person operations. The internet, social media and platforms like Nextdoor, Care.com or Rover enable many Triangle residents to simply post “Pet Sitter Needed” and get barraged with replies. The convenience and price of individual providers is understandably alluring. But, what if something goes wrong?
Your Pet Sitters’ Insurance Protects YOU
Whether you’re headed out of town or just into work for the day, you want peace of mind that your dog and your home are safe and secure. Hiring a professional dog walker or pet sitter offers a greater chance of avoiding accidents altogether. But even when accidents happen, you want the issue resolved without having to file a claim against your own homeowner’s insurance or worse, be held liable. Here are some actual claims published recently by the company we use for General Liability, Bonding and Workers’ Compensation coverage: Business Insurers of the Carolinas:
- A pet sitter left a client’s dog in the fenced backyard. When she returned the dog was nowhere to be found and presumed to be stolen or run away.
- A dog walker used a retractable leash and couldn’t control a dog from lunging into the street. The dog suffered multiple injuries from a passer-by vehicle.
- An insured sitter brought a friend along on a pet-sitting assignment and a dog bite was reported by the stranger unfamiliar to the dog.
- An insured dog walker failed to properly secure the crate for a new puppy who ingested multiple soft materials in the home and needed surgery.
- An insured dog walker left a client’s garage door open while on a walk. Various items missing from garage when the dog walker returned.
What Level of Protection Should You Expect?
At a minimum, the pet sitter or dog walker you hire must carry a General Liability Policy to cover a lot of the unexpected accidents that are common when caring for both your pet and your home. We also highly recommend that you seek someone with a Workers’ Compensation policy as dog walking is sometimes dangerous or accident-prone work. Innocent large-breed dogs can pull a dog walker to the pavement. Even the smallest dogs can do damage from fear-biting. Slippery front steps during the icy winter months are another potential hazard. Here are the policies we maintain and recommend at a minimum:
- $1M General Liability Coverage
- $10,000 Personal Property Protection (including your pet)
- $5,000 Surety Bond (though a reputable company should be doing pre-screening background and criminal checks on all employees)
- Workers’ Compensation policy for all Employees
Paying for Peace of Mind
If you ask, many independent dog walkers or pet sitters will not have any of the above mentioned policies. They are costly and often, out of range of a one-person operation. You’ll want to read closely, the level of coverage provided by referral or match-making sites that simply pair you with someone who filled out an on-line profile. The pet sitting and dog walking industry has grown exponentially in the past ten years and while competition may drive prices down, be careful to consider your total costs, including any risks.
Since 2008, Peak City Puppy has offered residents in Apex, Cary, Morrisville, Holly Springs and Raleigh reliable and trustworthy Pet Sitting and Dog Walking services. We’ve had insurance policies in effect since the beginning, as every professional service should. Feel free to give us a call, text or email at PeakCityPuppy.com to find out ways we can help you and your family enjoy your time away from home without unnecessary stress.
Lesley White is Founder of Peak City Puppy, a company she built with her own four-legged family in mind.