pet' sit'ting, n. - the act of caring for a pet in its own home while the owner is away.
"Often times, pet owners, and even news outlets, use the term 'pet sitter' carelessly, referring to anyone - from a family friend to the neighborhood teenager asked to walk a dog - as a 'pet sitter,'" explains Patti J. Moran, President, Pet Sitters International (PSI). "It is important pet owners understand that pet sitting is a professional career and professional pet sitters offer peace of mind that other pet care options cannot."
Even for pet owners committed to using professional pet sitters instead of friends or family, the search can be confusing.
Moran notes that with the influx of pet care directory sites popping up in the last couple of years and news stories touting pet sitting as an easy way to earn extra cash, more and more people are deciding to cash in on the growing need for pet care.
"Just because you've seen a pet sitter in an online directory - or even on a nationally publicized site - doesn't ensure they are a legitimate, qualified pet sitting business," explains Moran. "Anyone can post a profile advertising pet sitting services, so it's important for pet owners to take a closer look to ensure they are hiring a 'real pet sitter' to care for their pets."
PSI advises pet owners to ask seven important questions when interviewing a potential pet sitter: