Finding the Right Pet Care Provider


In the early days of July, Jersey City residents were disturbed and saddened by the story of Mac, a local Golden-doodle, who was stolen by his dog walker and after a two-day search by the community, was found dead by his owners at a veterinarian’s office… This tragedy has left many pet owners wondering how and who they can trust anyone to watch their beloved animals, and if it’s possible to even do so! As someone who has worked in pet care in Jersey City for five years, I can assure people that yes, there are in fact good, trustworthy people who are working in the pet care field, and the following tips can help you choose a pet care provider you feel comfortable with.


Different Types of Pet Care Providers

There are a few different types of pet care providers you can choose from. There are individual walkers/sitters who own their own businesses and are the sole providers such as Posh Pups JC and Sofia to the Rescue, small pet care companies with employees who are independent contractors such as Tails on Trails, the rare small pet care company with W2 employees like Bark Buildings, and large corporations who have independent contractors like Wag and Rover.


For some people, they may prefer knowing just one person who will be working with their pets, as there will never be anyone new coming in and the trust is based solely on that individual. This is a great benefit to some, however, a drawback is often that this person can only take care of so many animals, and may have limited availability before they are stretched too thin. Businesses with employees will mean there are more people caring for your pets and coming into your home, but they typically have better flexibility and availability to take on more clients. Those with independent contractors also have less responsibility over their employees, whereas W2 employees are often insured under the employee umbrella. 


Choosing Knowledgeable Providers

When choosing a pet care provider, one of the most important things to consider is that the person is knowledgeable about caring for pets like yours. Make sure to ask how long they’ve worked in pet care or if they have any certifications (as dog walkers or trainers, in CPR, etc.). In the event you have an animal who may have certain behavior problems, inquire if they’ve worked with animals with those issues before, and how they do so. If your animal has any health concerns or requires medication, ask if they’re comfortable caring with special needs animals and if they have administered medication before. If you have a “challenging” or large breed of dog, ask if they can handle a pup of that size who may have more energy.

For those interested in pet care that involves playgroups, group walks, or daycare, you should ask about the ratio of handlers to dogs, how scuffles are handled, and if conflict or injury between the dogs happens often. My best tip on asking questions like these is to research these issues beforehand so you know if the answers provided are ones that truly reflect knowledge and experience! After all, if you don’t know much about the subject, how will you be able to judge if someone else does? 


Green Flags for a Pet Care Provider

We’re bringing you straight to the best source about pet care, from the professionals themselves! When asked what they believe to be signs of a good pet care provider, local and trusted pet care professionals had this to say:


Danit & Devir Zivan (Bark Buildings): “A good pet sitter is someone who has compassion and does not see this as a job but treats the client’s pets as if they are their own. Communication is also an extremely important quality as you want someone who will send you cute photos while you’re gone – but also someone who is not afraid to reach out and ask questions or bring any issues to your attention during their stay.  You want to find someone who is in this line of work not just for the paycheck, but for their love of animals.”

Danit and Devir Zivan of Bark Buildings

Aisha Darius (Posh Pups JC): “Someone who genuinely has the care and love for animals. Body language, when your dog meets the new person, and how that new dog walker greets your dog. They want a meet and greet and not just talk to you about your pup, but they’re personable enough to ask if they’re adopted, a rescue, or the history of the dog.”

Aisha Darius of Posh Pups JC

Judy Nunez (Tails on Trails): “What makes an excellent pet care provider is someone who has exceptional customer service skills. No one should be involved in anything pet care unless they have a love and understanding of animals to start with. But the following has to do with safety and organization skills and customer service skills.”

Judy Nunez of Tails on Trails

Sofia Pica (Sofia to the Rescue): “Communication with the owner is important, making sure that you arrive within the time frame you tell them, making sure you tell them if you aren’t going to arrive in that time frame, you can almost feel the clients worrying, our job is to make sure they’re not so worried.”

Sofia Pica of Sofia to the Rescue


Red Flags 

Aside from trying to stay away from enormous companies who may have too many employees to properly keep track of, this is what some local pet sitters said to be red flags of pet sitters that should send you seeking out someone else: 

Danit & Devir Zivan (Bark Buildings): “The most basic red flags are someone who does not show up on time or confirm an appointment in advance, who is not taking notes when you are telling them about your pet or giving them care instructions, and who is not asking questions during your introductory meeting.”

Aisha Darius (Posh Pups JC): “If the transaction happens too quickly, if it happens without them wanting to meet the dog.”

Judy Nunez (Tails on Trails): “It has to do with how they communicate with you the first week, even before they sit down with you. Do they respond to you within 24 hours? Do they take your concerns seriously? Do they just disappear? The more disorganized a person is, the less likely they are to get back to you in 24 hours. A red flag is someone who is completely disorganized. It’s not the client’s job to stage-manage their walker.”

Sofia Pica (Sofia to the Rescue): “If they keep changing the time, or changing the date to meet.”


Moving Forward

Our pets are our family, and it’s our duty to make sure they are safe when we are away—as well as not become paranoid that everyone is out to hurt them. Pet care professionals in Jersey City are also looking to take more care and control in light of Mac’s tragedy, and are having a Pet Care and Safety conference for pet owners and professionals on Wednesday, July 28th at the Dvora building at 175 2nd Street. Consider coming to this event, or possible future ones to learn more and make connections with other pet owners and pet care professionals who you may consider hiring!

Tracie Koehnlein
Author: Tracie Koehnlein

Tracie is an animal shelter worker who loves books. When she's not working for or talking about animals she may be writing or binge watching fantasy shows and movies.