Source: Susan C. Nelson, 785-532-5690, snelson@k-state.edu
http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/nelsonbio.html
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, tmsharp@k-state.edu

Friday, Aug. 10, 2012

Care and comfort: Pet owners seeking new choices for supervision of their animals

MANHATTAN -- Many traveling pet owners board their animals at a kennel while they are gone. But some pet owners are now opting for pet-sitting, an alternative that appears to be growing, according to a Kansas State University veterinarian.

"A lot of people like the thought of their pets being at home and perceive it as being less stressful for them versus being away from home and near strange barking dogs, noisy cats and the business of a kennel," said Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor at the university's Veterinary Health Center, a part of the College of Veterinary Medicine. "This can be especially so for nervous or cage-phobic dogs and cats that typically prefer the stable, predictable routine at home."

Websites such as SitterCity.com or Care.com provide databases of pet-sitting jobs and prospective sitters readily available for perusal. Similar sites have proliferated recently with the increase in pet owners opening their homes to pet sitters.

Choosing to have pets remain at home rather than boarding at a kennel is also reflective of a pet's status in a family, Nelson said.

"Pets in our society are like members of the family for many people," she said. "Pet owners want to do what's best for them."

Pet-sitting jobs typically are not the primary form of employment for many sitters, but professional pet-sitting services exist throughout the U.S. Some pet owners may elect to have neighbors, family or friends check up on their animals during their travels.

"When using professional services, it is recommended to use one that is bonded and insured," Nelson said.

Kennels have also responded to the changing preferences of pet owners. Playtime and optional interaction with pets by staff has increased at many kennels, according to Nelson. Similarly, kennels have started offering day care-style programs where workers can leave their pets during the day.

"Kennels are seeing that people want this extra care for their pets and are responding," Nelson said. "You definitely see a trend here."