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Tax Time has me Thinking

I've had a few people ask me, over the past few months, how me much they should charge someone for pet sitting services, and that's really hard for me to answer. The average price for pet sitting varies depending on location, experience, the amount and type of pets, and the pet owners expectations - but, with all of that aside, let's look at the difference between a Professional Pet Care Provider and a Hobby Pet Sitter, shall we?

The reason that tax time has me thinking about this goes back to the question that some Hobby Sitters have asked me (How much THEY should charge) and about the pushback I've had from some people who have inquired about my services, then balked about my prices, so here's something for everyone to consider:

Let's say I charge $50 for a visit.

Subtract 30% of that, because I pay taxes on every dollar I earn - so that brings me to $35.

From that $35, subtract another 20%, because that will go to the gas that it took to get to and from the clients house - that brings me to $28, and that still isn't profit.

I don't have a percentage figured out for that $28 - but I know that some of it has to be put aside because, as a Professional Pet Care Provider, I have to pay for my own business insurance, car insurance, and health insurance, plus my continuing education (I have another Pet CPR and First Aid class next month, and it isn't free!)

While I understand that I offer more of a Luxury Service that not everyone can afford, I highly encourage pet owners to ask the following questions when seeking to secure the services of a pet sitter or dog walker:

  1. Does the pet sitter have the proper business license for your city or state, if required?

  2. Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?

  3. Can the pet sitter provide proof of clear criminal history?

  4. Does the pet sitter provide client references?

  5. Will the pet sitter use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract?

  6. Is the pet sitter a PSI Certified Professional Pet Sitter™ and/or has he or she participated in pet-care training, such as pet first aid?

  7. Is the pet sitter a member of professional and/or educational associations?

I've heard too many stories from people who've hired some neighborhood teenager to watch and walk their dogs, only to have the teenager get a better offer to go hang out with friends or something, so they bail out on the pet sit, last minute.

I had someone tell me that they were using a neighbor, but the woman cancelled on her frequently because her kids were always getting sick or her car was always breaking down.

I heard another story about how a "pet sitter" was hired for a week-long pet sit and when they came home their house was a mess, the litter box had not been cleaned out, and she had a feeling the whole house had been snooped through.

I know someone who hired one of her own employees, someone who she thought was absolutely trustworthy and capable of taking care of her home and pets while she was away - the girl ended up having her boyfriend over, letting him stay at the house while she went out, and the boyfriend ended up stealing jewelry AND A SAFE out of the closet. Yeah. True story.

Don't even get me started on the Rover horror stories, you can read some of them yourself if you just Google "Rover Horror Stories." There are multiple threads on Reddit about it, too. Some of them are absolutely heartbreaking.

For those who are doing some pet sitting as a way to make "extra" money and ask ME how much they should charge, my answer is this: Find out how much the Professionals in your area are charging for the service you want to offer, and charge way less. Like, 50% less,, maybe. It's insulting to those of us who rely on this as a main source of income to charge the same price, when we've invested time and money into making it our business.

Editing to add; I was also a hobby pet sitter, for YEARS, and I'd just accept whatever payment (if any) was offered, since I really just wanted to hang out with animals, anyway 🙂


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