While many people choose to put their dog into kennels or their cat into a cattery when they go away, others prefer to employ a pet sitter who lives in their home.
Moyra Shields, 59, lives in East Lothian just outside Edinburgh. She took up pet sitting in 2011 after being made redundant by a market research company.
‘I used to joke that I would walk dogs for a living - and then I ended up doing it!’ says Moyra. ‘My boss heard of a national pet care company called Animals At Home, so I contacted them to see if they covered Scotland. The Edinburgh franchise was available, so after a great deal of thought I decided this was for me.’
Can you make any money from petsitting?
Moyra says it takes about two years to start earning enough to live on and she now makes about £17-£18,000 a year. ‘I had to make a go of this as I had no other income. It was tough and I came close to giving up but by year three I’d turned a corner. What stopped me giving up were my amazing clients and their lovely pets - who would look after wee Dolly the cat as well as I do?
‘What I’ve learned is to fulfil the client’s wishes at all times. I’ve learned a lot about myself, too: I am a great sales person and I can run a business. I love working with animals.’
What qualities do you need?
Now with four years’ experience behind her, Moyra says the vital qualities a pet sitter needs are a love of, and affinity with, animals.
‘You also need to be trustworthy and reliable. Essentially you have to be able to sell yourself to the client. I don't think qualifications are necessary but they don't do any harm. Experience is important and so is caring, and I find my nursing qualification useful.’
A spokesperson for Animals At Home says: ‘Ideal franchisees are enthusiastic, energetic, organised people who love pets. If you’ve dreamed of working with animals, and if you have to the desire to provide a caring, friendly, professional pet care service, this is for you.’
As well as pet sitting, the job includes taking animals to and from the vets, dog walking and cat feeding. An animal ambulance or pet taxi can even be leased by the franchisee from £290 per month.
Find out more
Animals At Home (www.animalsathome.co.uk) offers the chance to buy a Pet Sitting Franchise, a Dog Walking Franchise or an animal related business. The deal, which costs upwards of £12,500 + VAT, includes a package of personal, marketing and business support plus intensive training in animal handling, hygiene and basic nursing knowledge. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 08701 126613.
Other pet franchises include Petpals (www.petpals.com) and The Pets, Homes & Gardens Company (www.petshomesandgardens.co.uk); find one in your area through the internet.