Have you ever arrived at a pet sitting visit only to find that when you arrive the lights are on and you can see movement inside the home? Or that when you entered the home that you found that someone else was there with you? This happened to one of my pet sitters last month. It may seem like a simple situation – your customers probably just forgot to call and cancel the visits when their plans changed – but it can be a serious safety risk if not handled correctly.

What could happen if it’s not the customer who is inside the home? It could be an intruder who is taking advantage of the empty house.  You don’t want to ring the door bell to alert the customer of their mistake and end up face to face with the intruder.  It could also be dangerous to walk up to the home in case the intruders see you and panic.

The best steps to take in this situation are:

1) Leave the house immediately, drive away from the house and park in a secure well-lit location

2) Call your clients on their cell phone number (that you should have collected at initial interview). Check that they are indeed home and if they are not alert them to the fact that some other person was seen inside their home.

3) If you can’t reach the client – call the person listed as their emergency contact and check with them to see if they can confirm your clients plans.

4) If you cannot reach the client or their emergency contact – call the police and report the incident. Let them send someone over to the house to check on the situation.

Never assume that the person you see inside the home is your client. It is important for the safety of yourself and the clients pets that you confirm with the client on the phone that they are indeed home and that the pets do not need your care.

Unfortunately my pet sitter did not follow the steps above and did not call the client to confirm their location.  She had entered the house and found no note from the client and realized that someone else was in the home. She left assuming that the clients were still home and returned the next morning to make the second scheduled visit.  She did not speak with the client to confirm their location and the needs of their pets were met.  This caused not only an unsafe situation but also that the client was asked to pay for a second visit, when making the second visit should have been avoided by making a phone call. Luckily the clients were home and the pets were safe and sound.

If you have any other suggestions based on your experience or experiences of colleages or friends please leave a comment after this post and share with everyone.