Fall 2012 - National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

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Fall 2012 - National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

Fall 2012 Volume 22 · Number 3

Which Phone is

Right for Your


The Lowdown on

Breed Specific


Invest Time

Don’t Waste Time

on Social Media

Service Dogs in

Public Places

Search Engine


Don’t Pay for It


COVER: Janet Britton brings 20 years of

experience to her pet sitting business. 14-15

Cover feature photos by John LaPorte.

Media Mewsings ............................................ 2

President’s Message ...................................... 3

Industry News of Interest ................................ 4



Read any Good Pet Food Labels Lately ...........5

Hurricane Preparation:

Tips for Weathering the Storm ..........................6




The mission of the Professional Pet Sitter is to

provide tools for members to enhance their

business, help them expand their knowledge

of professional pet sitting, and communicate

association news and events.

Copyright 2012. The Professional Pet Sitter is published four times a

year in March, June, September and December by NAPPS Headquarters:

15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054. Periodical

mailing privilege pending at Mt. Laurel, NJ and additional mailing

offi ces. Postmaster: send change of address to the Professional Pet

Sitter c/o NAPPS Headquarters, 15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C,

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054. The Professional Pet Sitter is free to National

Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Inc. members. No part of this

publication may be reproduced without written permission of the


Editorial offices: 15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C.

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054.


Getting the Most Out of Your

Social Media Investment ................................ 8

Cell Phones and Smartphones:

Which One is Best for Your Business ............10

Do Not Waste Your Time and Money on

Search Engine Optimization ...........................13


Fun Times with Auntie Janet .........................14

Helping Others Understand Service Dogs ......16

Breed Specific Legislation: Staying Informed ... 18


Virtual Two-Day Planning Retreat ...................20

NAPPSChat ..................................................21

More Member Benefi ts ..................................22

NAPPS in the News ......................................23

NAPPS Classifi eds ........................................24



National Association of

Professional Pet Sitters, Inc.

15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

Phone: (856) 439-0324 • Fax: (856) 439-0525

Email: NAPPS@petsitters.org • www.petsitters.org



Like us facebook.com/THENAPPS

Follow us @TheNAPPS


www.petsitters.org 1 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


Have you ever had an email nightmare

This is when you open your inbox and

find yourself overwhelmed with unread

messages, which is an everyday occurrence for

some of us. The good news is that you’re not alone.

In fact, the average person gets more than one

hundred emails per day. The bad news is it’s not

getting better. Dmitri Leonov wrote an excellent

post on Mashable on July 31, 2012 with some

great ideas on how to break out of email hell.

It is frequently suggested that email should

be reinvented, making it easier to sort through the

extraneous communications. Most people agree,

but it’s not going

to happen any time

soon. According to

Andrew McAffee, coauthor

of the ebook

Race Against the

Machine: How the

Digital Revolution

is Accelerating

Innovation, Driving


and Irreversibly

Transforming Employment and the Economy

whatever solution replaces email would have to be

not just better than email, but exponentially better

to convince people to accept it. He argues that

people are typically so averse to change that they

overvalue current solutions by three times and

undervalue proposed substitutes by three times.

“You may be waiting a long

time for a better solution to

communication than email.

... Implementing good habits

managing your message is

the best thing to do.”

While you wait for a solution though, your email

is just going to keep piling up. So your best bet is

to try to figure out how to manage the email that

you have.

The number of emails you receive will

continue to grow every year. So what, if anything,

can you do to get a grip on this email avalanche

Start with these fi ve tips outlined by Mashable.

1. Set a Time Limit

2. Know Your Etiquette

3. Prioritize

4. Don’t Sign up for Junk

5. Don’t Open Mail Twice

You may be waiting a long time for a better

solution to communication than email. Even if it

is ultimately replaced by another format, you will

still have to manage living with a lack of time

and a lot of input. Implementing good habits

managing your messages is the best thing to do.

Start now! n

ProfeSSional Pet Sitter Staff

Rebecca K. O’Connor, Executive Editor

Cathe Delaney, Managing Editor

Please send all letters

to the editor: NAPPS@petsitters.org

Letters should include your name, address, and

daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited

for length or clarity. Submissions may be mailed or

emailed as a word document.

Professional Pet Sitter is published quarterly by the

National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), a

nonprofit organization, and is available through membership

subscription. No portion of the magazine may be reprinted

without the written consent of the National Association of

Professional Pet Sitters. The letters and advertisements

contained in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the

opinions of the association. NAPPS is not liable for validity

or correctness of any claim, express or implied, made in

advertisements or writings of this magazine.

MeMBerShiP SerViceS

NAPPS Headquarters

15000 Commerce Parkway, Suite C

Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

Phone: (856) 439-0324

Fax: (856) 439-0525

Email: NAPPS@petsitters.org


Cathe Delaney

Administrative Director

Cocee Baker

Administrative Assistant

Caitlin Dougherty

Meeting and Exhibits Manager

Business Insurers of the Carolinas

PO Box 2536, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2536

Phone: (800) 962-4611 ext. 224


For Dishonesty Bond and/or

General Liability Insurance

The National Group Insurance Exchange

3210 Doolittle Dr., Northbrook, IL 60062

Phone: (800) 955-0418 Fax: (847) 559-9499

Email: tngie@aol.com


Contact: Alan Leafman

For Dental and Health Insurance

For pet sitting questions contact:

Any board member @

NAPPS’ website: www.petsitters.org

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 2 www.petsitters.org


John F. D’Ariano, President

The Nuts and Bolts of NAPPS

NAPPS has two types of members, active

and non-active. Non-active members

support and contribute to the association

primarily by paying their dues. In turn they

generally promote their membership as a

credential, and may or may not utilize benefits

available to them as NAPPS members. Active

members tend to better utilize opportunities

provided by the association and take an active

role in shaping the future of their organization.

All members make up the life blood of NAPPS;

they are the people who make it possible

for NAPPS to accomplish everything

it does. The NAPPS board of directors

relies on member input to determine the

future direction of the association and

to volunteer to do the work required to

achieve the goals of the members. The

association relies on its members to

move through the ranks and to one day

lead the association.

NAPPS members have many

opportunities to get involved in their

association. Basic participation can

be accomplished by responding to

NAPPS surveys and providing feedback

when requested by the association.

These simple steps take very little time

and they can have a major impact on

decisions affecting the association.

Those who want to become more involved

in their association can do so at many

levels. There are several “worker bee”

opportunities for members who want to

get more involved in their organization

but cannot commit the resources required

in some of the more time consuming

volunteer positions. These opportunities

include responsibilities like moderating

teleconferences, or recording minutes of

committee meetings.

NAPPS has task forces and

committees, each of which needs

members and leaders. As a committee chair,

individuals perform the duties of a committee

member plus they direct and coordinate the

activities of the committee. Committee chairs

report to the board. In a perfect world NAPPS would

like to rotate committee chairs every 2 years.

Each committee needs a co-chair to assist the

chair person and to be prepared to move into the

committee chair position when the time comes.

Based on NAPPS bylaws and policies The

NAPPS members

have many

opportunities to get

involved in their


NAPPS board of directors must be comprised of not

less than 9 nor more than 15 directors. Perspective

directors are nominated by members and reviewed

by a nominating committee. The nominating

committee interviews prospective directors and

reviews their qualifi cations for the position. It is

preferred that directors have served as committee

chairs prior to appointment to the board. This is

something that is considered by the nominating

committee when they select perspective directors.

Approved nominees are then placed on a slate

of nominees which is

presented to the board.

The slate of nominees, if

approved by the board, is

then presented to the members. Directors are then

elected by the voting members of the association.

Each director is elected to a 3 year term.

Freshman directors are assigned a seasoned

director as their mentor. Upon completing their

fi rst year in offi ce freshman directors are reviewed

by the board who must approve them to serve the

remaining 2 years of their 3 year term. To

date every director has successfully been

approved to complete their term.

Executive board members are also

selected by the nominating committee,

reviewed by the board, and elected by a

vote of the membership. These positions

include a Secretary, Treasurer, President

Elect, President, and Past President. Each

of these positions is elected for a 1 year


Board members may serve no more

than 2 consecutive terms in any one board

position. Re-election after two terms may

not take place until at least three years

have elapsed. This process ensures that

NAPPS leadership is continuously evolving.

The process helps ensure that NAPPS

does not become stagnant. With each

new board member comes new ideas and


My intent is that this article gives you

an understanding of how your association

works. What I have explained is the NAPPS

leadership succession plan. The process

is intended to enable any member with

a desire to become a NAPPS leader to

do so. As a member of NAPPS you have

already taken the fi rst step. The next step

is to volunteer to help your association in

a capacity that feels right for you, then

just move forward and take advantage of

the many opportunities presented to you. Every

step in the process will help you develop your

leadership skills and make you a better leader.

Once leadership skills are learned they will benefit

you in your business and in your personal life. The

next step is up to you! n

— John F. D’Ariano

President, NAPPS

www.petsitters.org 3 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


The HSUS Recommends Pets Avoid

Contact with West Nile Virus Pesticides

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association

While many states struggle to combat the

recent outbreak of West Nile virus, The Humane

Society of the United States wants to reassure

pet owners that the virus itself does not appear

to pose a direct threat to the majority of pets.

However, it is recommended that they protect pets

from contact with the pesticides being sprayed to

kill mosquitoes carrying the virus.

“When it comes to your pet’s health, it’s

better to be safe than sorry,” advises Dr. Barbara

Hodges, DVM, MBA and Humane Society Veterinary

Medical Association consultant. “Pet owners

should maintain an ongoing dialogue with their

veterinarians about the prevalence and prevention

of insect-borne diseases, the selection and proper

use of over the counter insect repellents and

prescription medications, and the potential health

effects and treatment of pesticide exposures for

their companion animals.”

It is also important to be aware that

pesticides “summate,” meaning total exposure is

the sum of all pesticides applied to the pet as well

as to the pet’s environment. It is recommended

that your pet avoid or minimize any exposure from

aerial spraying, fl ea spray or premise spray being

applied at home.

The latest available research shows that

even though household pets like cats and dogs

can become infected with the West Nile virus,

T:4.8472 in

they are unlikely to

experience any adverse

symptoms or reactions

to it. It also appears

there is little to no

risk that a pet could

transmit the virus to

humans. Nevertheless

The HSUS asks pet

owners to take extra

precautions to keep

their pets safe from the

aerial spraying.

The virus can

cause serious illness

or even death in

horses and other equid

species, so these

animals should be

properly vaccinated.

There is no West Nile

virus vaccine for dogs

or cats nor would there be an indication to develop

one. It is recommended that horses and other

livestock be confi ned in covered barns and stables

during pesticide spraying.

To protect your pets from the West Nile virus


• Be sure pets are safely indoors out of

harms way during spraying. Close all

windows and doors and turn off air

conditioning units as an extra safety


Order FREE GREENIES ® samples for your clients! Go to www.SampleKits.com and enter Offer Code: NAPPS.

#1 Vet Recommended Dental Chews *

*In pet specialty among veterinarians that recommend dental chews for at home oral care. ®/ Trademarks © The Nutro Company 2012. U.S. Pat. No. D587,428

• Carefully clean water and food bowls,

toys, and other pet items that may

have been left outdoors and exposed to


• Carefully rinse your pets’ paws and other

body surfaces after possible contact with

pesticide residue remaining on sidewalks

or lawns after spraying has concluded.

Cats in particular may ingest pesticide

residues on their coats by self-grooming.

• Take special precautions to ensure that

puppies, kittens, elderly pets and pets

with compromised immune systems are

not inadvertently exposed to pesticides.

• Cover all fi sh ponds to prevent pesticides

from entering the pond water.

• Reduce your pets’ risk of contracting any

mosquito-borne disease by minimizing

their overall exposure to mosquitoes.

Discuss appropriate pet mosquito

repellents with your veterinarian.

• Heartworm disease is another mosquitoborne

threat to dogs and cats; talk

with your veterinarian about heartworm

disease prevention options.

Although pesticide poisoning is unlikely,

warning signs can include fever, vomiting,

lethargy and neurological signs such as loss of

balance or motor skills. If you believe that your pet

has ingested pesticides or has been overly exposed

to them, consult your veterinarian. n

T:3.7 in

Media Contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras; 301-721-6440;


Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 4 www.petsitters.org


by Marcia Breithaupt

Read any Good Pet Food Labels Lately

As more and more pet parents like yourself consider feeding their dogs

and cats a healthy diet, learning about the ingredients in your pet’s

food becomes even more important. While many leading dog and cat

food brands cover the front of their bags with beautiful photography or

illustrations of healthy ingredients, the ingredient listing on the back

is where you can determine whether your pet’s food is of the highest

quality. Why is the first ingredient the most important

How do some brands categorize certain ingredients to make their

food appear healthier Why is corn not the healthiest ingredient

Take a minute to find out the answers to these questions and more.

How to compare dog and cat food.

When evaluating pet food ingredient listings

consider the following factors. The first ingredient

by weight is the most important because there

is more of that ingredient than any other. All dog

foods and cat foods must list the ingredients of

their food in order of weight. When you compare

the labels below, you see the first ingredient is

real deboned chicken, fi sh, or lamb. In contrast,

the first ingredient in a leading brand pet food is

ground yellow corn. Corn has very little nutritional

value, and has been linked to allergies in some


The top ten ingredients usually comprise

80% or more of a dry pet food’s entire formula and

give you a real insight into the formula’s overall

quality. For example, if you compare the top ten

ingredients in the Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

(above) dog food to some of the leading dog food

brands, the differences in ingredient quality are


Some dog food and cat food brands defi ne

their ingredients in several different ways so that

the ones of lower quality appear further down the

ingredient list. For example, a product list could

contain chicken, ground corn, corn gluten, ground

wheat and corn bran. And, if you were to group

all of the corn ingredients as one, they might far

out-weigh the amount of chicken in that food, and

be the first listed ingredient. Also be sure to read

all of the ingredients at the end of the listing to

know if any artifi cial preservatives and colorings

are being used.

Now that you have a basic understanding

of how to read a label, it’s important to know the

specific ingredients that comprise healthy dog

A comparison of ingredients

you’ll find in pet foods.

Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

A Leading Brand

and cat foods—as well as the ingredients that

should give you pause.

• Real meat, such as chicken, fi sh or

lamb, is a source of high-quality, highly

digestible protein. Proteins are essential

for growth, maintenance, reproduction,

repair and energy.

• Whole grains such as brown rice, barley

and oats supply complex carbohydrates

to maintain your dog’s or cat’s energy

level , and healthy fi ber not found in

most processed grains.

• Vegetables and fruit provide essential

phytonutrients, antioxidants and

enzymes, plus natural vitamins, minerals

and fi bers that promote and maintain

health and wellness.

Many leading dog and cat foods contain

the ingredients below, which are not of the highest


• Poultry [Chicken] By-Product Meal

• Artifi cial color and chemical

preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin,

and propylene glycol. They provide

no nutritional value and have been

associated with possible side effects,

e.g. cancer.

• Corn, wheat and soy have been linked to

allergic reactions in some dogs.

The bottom line on pet food label


Choosing the best dog or cat food for your

beloved dog or cat isn’t easy, especially when

there are so many brands touting themselves as

being healthy. Next time you’re in the store, take

a minute to review the dog

or cat food you’re using

now. With what you’ve

learned about pet food

labels, that minute could

mean a big difference in

the health of your pet, not

to mention to cost of your

veterinarian bills. n

Marcia Breithaupt owns

Liberty Home And Pet Services

in Naples, Florida and

serves on the NAPPS Board of

Directors. You can contact her

at www.lhaps.com.

www.petsitters.org 5 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


Hurricane Preparation: Tips for Weathering the Storm

Everyone faces the possibility of various forms of

disasters depending on their regions. Hurricanes

are one of the most widespread possibilities and

fortunately occur with warning, unlike most

disasters. All the same, you should be prepared in

advance and make sure that your clients are as well

if you live in areas that hurricanes

are a possibility. As this year’s

hurricane season wraps up in

November, now is the time to make

sure you are prepared and start

thinking about next year as well.

Having a plan for what you will do when a hurricane is bearing down on

your town is the most important thing you can do. Everyone in your area will

be buying supplies, rushing to prepare and trying to make decisions on what

to do next. If you are ready in advance and know what you will be doing, you

can give yourself critical time to take care of as much as possible before the

storm makes landfall. Here are some of the most important measures you can

take to prepare for a hurricane:

• If you don’t already have one, prepare an emergency kit. This needs

to include toys, food, water and first aid for both human and pets.

Don’t forget bedding, leashes, cat litter and trash bags.

• Have a family communication plan including where to meet if you

are separated. Know your surroundings and evacuations routes

and have more than one. If the authorities are advising evacuation,

leave immediately. Don’t wait! You could be trapped.

• Learn the elevation level of your property including fl ood-prone

lands. Know how your property will be affected when storm surge or

tidal fl ooding are forecasted.

• Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they

pose a hazard to you or to an escape route.

• Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to fi nd

higher ground, determine where you would go for high ground, and

how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.

Once you know exactly what you will do in the event of a possible

hurricane, the next step is to make plans to secure your property. You may not

have much time to batten down the hatches once you are certain you are in

the path of the storm. Having a list of things that you will need to get done

will help you accomplish them rapidly. These are some of the most important

tasks to tackle before the storm:

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 6 www.petsitters.org

By Joyce Rheal

Having a plan for what you will do when a

hurricane is bearing down on your town is

the most important thing you can do.

• Cover all of your home’s windows either by boarding them up with

5/8” marine plywood that is precut to fit and ready to install or by

permanent storm shutters, these offer the

best protection for windows. Tape will not

prevent windows from breaking.

• To reduce roof damage, install straps or

additional clips to securely fasten your

roof to the frame structure.

• Be sure trees and shrubs around your

home are well-trimmed so they are more

wind resistant.

• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and


• Reinforce your garage doors. Wind

entering your garage can cause

dangerous and expensive structural


• Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations,

garbage cans and anything else that is

not tied down.

• If you own a boat, determine how and

where to secure it.

• Install a generator for emergencies. You

may lose power.

• If in a high-rise building, be prepared to

take shelter on or below the 10th floor.

• If you have time and will not be

evacuating, consider preparing a safe

room, someplace where everyone will be

safe from any broken glass or debris.

• Make sure every human and every pet has

documentation, especially to show that

you are the owners of those pets and that

they are current on their required shots.

Gather up the documents and keep them

with you.

• Find pet friendly places to stay if you

need to evacuate.

will not find yourself panicked and scrambling to get things together. Instead

you can prepare for the worst and if necessary, get your family and pets to a

safe place. n

Joyce Rheal is a nationally certified pet care consultant and trainer and the author

of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disaster. You can find Joyce at www.


Having an advanced plan for the possibility

of a hurricane can give you the extra time that you

need to get everything prepped and give you the

best chance of weathering the storm. You don’t

want to find yourself in position to have to leave

things behind and in disarray. The last thing you

should do is leave your pets behind, which could

endanger their lives. If you have a plan in place you

www.petsitters.org 7 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


Getting the Most Out of Your Social Media Investment

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, Google+… there are so many

platforms and possibilities for social media that it is hard to know

where to get started or when to shift gears. Everything about the

Internet moves at a rapid pace and what is helpful today could be an

empty wasteland tomorrow. More than that, not all social media is

particularly helpful for businesses, especially if you are not sure how

to maximize your investment. You can easily find yourself dumping

a tremendous amount of time into “playing” on the internet without

helping your business at all. So here is a quick primer to give you an

idea of how to best invest your time.


Look at keeping a blog like giving a presentation

at a convention. You are sharing information that

is valuable and worth engaging with as an expert.

Value added and consistent new information is the

heart of a good and workable blog.

Why do it Blogging is an excellent way to drive

traffic through your website, keep customers

engaged and create referrals. When you blog,

you present yourself as an expert or at least

an excellent disseminator of information your

customers will fi nd valuable. Over time if you

develop a good number of blog posts, your website

will increase in ranking, be more likely to come

up in searches and drive more traffic to you.

Blogging can be especially helpful if you are just

starting your business. It gives you a place to

send potential clients and allow them to see your

expertise and professionalism.

“Great content is added value

either in something your

clients can relate to or may

be truly interested in.”

Strategy: If you are going to blog it is important

that you do it regularly. Building followers takes

time and patience. Remember that you are

building an informational catalogue for your

customers and to keep them up to date on current

events. Make sure that you set up a place for

people to sign up to have the feed sent to their

email. (Which means that every time you put up a

new post it will be emailed to them.) You can use a

free service such as Feedburner for this.

Drawbacks: Of all social media, blogging is

probably the most time-consuming. If you don’t

think you can keep a blog going or don’t enjoy

writing, consider putting up FAQs and helpful

articles directly on your website instead of

creating an active blog. Keep in mind that if the

blog is connected to or on your business website,

potential clients will look at inactive blogs and

wonder if you are still in business. Old abandoned

blogs just look like clutter on a site and are



Consider Facebook

like having a party for

clients in your living

room. Facebook is for

keeping your followers

up-to-date on what you are doing, sharing great

stories and also for building friendships. Facebook

is for conversations and relationship building.

Why do it A well-managed Facebook page will

give your clients confi dence in you and build your

friendships. Unlike a blog, you can also quickly see

what is happening with your clients and friends

and share in their lives, challenges and triumphs

as well. Facebook has the capability of building

community and can be more easily localized

than a blog, allowing you to connect with not just

people, but the “right” people, those in your area

who are potential clients.

Strategy: Just like with a blog, the better content

you produce, the more likely you will be to gain

Facebook “friends”. Make sure your Facebook

address is on you cards and in the signature

of your email address and encourage clients to

“friend” you. When your clients like and comment

on your posts, you may fi nd more people adding

you. Great content however, is not about posting

what you had for breakfast. Great content is added

value either in something your clients can relate

to or may be truly interested in. Make an effort to

share one wonderful thing about your day, one link

to something helpful to your clients and to make

an encouraging comment to a friend who could

use it. Do this every day. Also post information

regarding your business when relevant. This

combination of posts will give your friends and

subscribers the opportunity to get to know you as a

person as well as a business.

Drawbacks: Facebook can of course, be a

tremendous time suck. However, you can achieve

all the posts I’ve listed above in as little as 15

minutes a day. Even better, you can do it from an

application on your smartphone. So if you have ten

minutes of downtime you can post a photo from your

phone or make a quick comment. However, unlike a

blog, which is more like giving a lecture, Facebook

is an ongoing conversation. You must be careful

of what you say, be respectful of the fact that your

clients may have different opinions than you and be

respectful of clients’ privacy when posting.


Imagine Twitter like being

at a cocktail party with

potential clients. You will

mix and mingle, only get

snippets of conversation

and perhaps get to know clients well enough that

they will look you up again.

Why do it If you like keeping your missives brief

and to the point, Twitter and its 140 character

limit is perfect for you. Perhaps the best reason

to post on Twitter is that you can connect it to

your Facebook account and even put a feed on

your website. This keeps new content flowing into

your website and if you can kill two birds with one

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 8 www.petsitters.org

By Rebecca K. O’Connor

stone by posting to both Twitter and Facebook at

the same time, why not And like Facebook, you

can send out updates from your smartphone. If you

only spend a reasonable amount of time on Twitter,

it can be the least time consuming way of getting

your social media platform going.

Strategy: Just like Facebook, try to work on a

strategy of engagement, added value and sharing

business information. Say something wonderful

about your day with a photo, say something kind

to someone else, share links to helpful articles

and sites and share any relevant information

about your business. You should also “retweet”

messages from others that you think have value.

This way people will retweet your good content,

sharing it with their followers and helping

you build your business. Look for other local

businesses to “follow” and like-minded people.

Drawbacks: It can be harder to build a local

following on Twitter than on Facebook. It is also

noisier on Twitter and that means that your tweets

may just be swallowed up and not be read by the

people you would like to read them. Like all the

social media platforms, Twitter can

also be very time consuming if you

choose to let it be.

Other Social Media Platforms

Certainly there are many

other possibilities for social media

engagement. There are a tremendous

amount of people who are quite taken

with Pinterest right now. Pinterest is

primarily an image sharing platform

which is often focused on crafts,

recipes and household ideas. It is

admittedly a lot of fun, but not meant

for self-promotion and unlikely to

bring in new clients. Google+, the Facebook-like

platform that Google built is still out there as

well, but floundering and unlikely to get popular.

Linked-In can be great for business connections

and networking, but is also not as likely to build

you a client list. There is also Tumblr, Flickr,

Youtube, Foursquare and the list goes on. There is

a place to share everything from music to photos

to business contacts and people will continue to

find new and better uses for building networks

Shorthand to

7 Social Media Platforms

Twitter: I’m walking a dog.

Facebook: I like walking dogs.

Foursquare: This is where I walk dogs.

Youtube: Here’s a video of me walking this dog.

Pinterest: Here is great graphic of

ways to walk a dog.

Linked in: My skills include walking dogs.

Blog: This is my philosophy on walking dogs.

through these sites. If you love being online, then

there are certainly more ways to engage, but for

starters, your own blog, Facebook and Twitter are

three of the best places to get started. Just choose

the tool you are most comfortable with and likely

to keep using. n

Rebecca K. O’Connor is a professional animal trainer,

freelance writer, author and a consultant on creating,

managing and implementing content.

www.petsitters.org 9 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


cell PhoneS and SMartPhoneS:

Which Tool is Best for Your Business

It seems that technology advances at the speed of light, and with

all of the demands on your time it can be hard to keep up with

new advances. For some, technology is almost intimidating, and

they find it easier to rely on pen, paper, and landlines rather than

dive into the world of technology. As a self-professed phone geek,

I hope to help clear up some mysteries and help you choose the

communication tools that are right for your business.

I assume that all professional pet sitters

carry cell phones. Not to answer on the job, and

certainly not while driving, but as a basic personal

safety item that can save lives in an emergency.

For many, their cell phones have served them long

and well. But is it time to look into a smartphone

And what should you look for, anyway Is it really

worth it

Your Basic Phone

Just as it sounds, this phone makes and

receives calls, and probably sends and receives

text messages. Even a no-frills phone will have a

clock, and an alarm feature. Basic phones offer a

keypad instead of a touchscreen interface. Many

prepaid phone services such as Tracphone, Virgin

Mobile, and GoPhone, offer basic phones for as low

as $10.00, with low per-minute rates on their


calling cards.

While there are a

few advantages to using

a basic phone, such

as a lower cost,

and the familiarity factor for those who aren’t that

comfortable with newer gadgets, these phones are

declining in popularity as smartphones become

more useful in day-to-day life. A pet sitter can

benefit from the advantages of a smartphone for

their business.


While there is no single defi nition of

“smartphone”, it is generally agreed that a

smartphone, in addition to sending and receiving

calls, has additional capabilities such as mobile

internet access, email, cameras, mp3 players,

PDA functions such as calendars, alarms, and

reminders, and usually, an operating system

such as Windows, Android, or Apple’s iOS. You

can install programs or apps to give even more

functionality to your phone. In short, a smartphone

is a mini-computer.

Which is the best brand

Smartphones now come in all shapes, sizes

and styles, so choosing the right one is a matter of

comfort and personal preference. Some people love

the sleek beauty of a touchscreen, others love the

precision and typing speed of a physical keypad

or slide-out keyboard. To fi nd out what you’re

comfortable with, check out your local electronics

store and start playing with phones.

You can do three things to help to discover

if you are comfortable with a particular make of


• Enter a fake appointment into its

calendar function.

• Type a text message.

• Enter a (fake) contact.

• I evaluate how responsive the phone is,

how comfortable I am typing on it, and

how intuitive the interface and keyboard

are (for example, if I can’t immediately

fi nd something as basic as a calendar

app, or if I have to hunt through pages

of screens or menus, that would take

patience I do not have!) I want to see

how clear the screen is, and how easy

it is to adjust the brightness. Feeling

the size and sturdiness of the phone in

your hands is important, too. If you’re

like me, there are times you may find

yourself juggling leashes, keys, baggies,

and some weird thing that your labrador

friend picked up on his walk, and

cell phones are often the unfortunate

casualties of these situations. (There

are lots of durable cases out there to

fi t your phone—eBay will have much

better prices than the electronics

store.) In short, fi nd what you are most

comfortable with, because you will be

using this phone every day, and you

want to make sure it is not a source of


There’s an app for that!

Smartphones were designed with the

mobile business user in mind. Having access

to messages, emails, and texts is important

in our line of work where our clients and staff

members rely on timely communication. There

are apps and websites that allow you to access

your computer documents from wherever you

are. There are apps you can use for scheduling

(and some apps specifi c to pet sitting, too) or

you can use your phone’s native calendar. Most

calendars will sync with your calendar system,

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 10 www.petsitters.org

By Kristen Burton

for example, Outlook, Google Calendar, and Yahoo!

Calendar, so you can be sure your calendar is

up-to-date, and you can access it on the go. Using

the “Reminders” function on these calendars

is a great way to make sure you don’t miss an

appointment, as it will send notifications to your

phone automatically. GPS navigation can be very

useful for those of us who do a lot of driving. (Note

of caution – you should always know your route

ahead of time- GPS is helpful but it has been

known to be incorrect!)

Some additional uses pet sitters may have

for smartphones:

• Flashlight apps that use either the

phone’s screen or its LED flash to provide

a steady glow.

• Most phones will play your digital music

and video—no need for a separate mp3


• Cell phone cameras are useful in

countless situations. Did you leave a

note for your client and you want to have

a copy for yourself Take a photo of it.

Did you see a new competitor’s poster

hanging in a condo lobby Take a picture

of it, and check them out online later.

Did you walk in to a big mess that the

client just isn’t going to believe Start

snapping photos—it might be helpful to

have something to show the client if they

have questions. I take a photo of each

client’s pet, not only for my own visual

reference, but if a pet gets lost, I know

I have a clear, up-to-date color photo to

assist in searches, rather than relying on

a client’s blurry puppy picture from 2006.

• Remote lockout service allows you to

remotely lock your cell phone in case it

is lost or stolen, and in some cases will

allow you to wipe all your phone data.

This prevents unauthorized access of

your data. (Most cell phones are lockable

for security, and it’s a good idea to use

that feature if you have contacts or other

data on your phone.)

• You can customize reminders and alerts

on your phone. You can set specifi c

ringtones for certain people or groups;

you can set one tone to remind you of

appointments, another tone to tell you

when you’ve got a text message, and

another to indicate voice mail.

• Slydial is a great advertising-supported

(but otherwise free) tool for those times

when you just want to leave a message

for someone. You can download the free

Slydial app, or dial direct at 267-759-

3425. They’ll prompt you for the cell

number you want to dial (it doesn’t work

on landlines, unfortunately) and then

they’ll put you right into that person’s


• Facebook, Twitter, and social media apps

allow you to keep up with marketing.

In less than a minute, you can send a

tweet, or update your Facebook page,

and get your name in front of your

friends and clients.

• Visual Voice Mail is a great feature

that allows you to see a list of your

voicemails, and play them back easily.


Give them an I.D. that helps

them find their way home...fast.

*40% OFF Basic Tags for all NAPPS members! Coupon Code: NAAPS

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www.petsitters.org 11 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


By Kristen Burton

Cell Phones and Smartphones, continued from page 11

• Angry Birds, Where’s My Water, Words

with Friends, or Cut the Rope – these

are all delightfully clever games that are

available for download. Perfect for those

little blocks of downtime.

iPhone, Android, Blackberry

In addition to the differences in the phones

themselves, there are different operating systems

these phones use that may affect how you use


• The iPhone was a game-changer, and

with very good reason. They have a solid

reputation of making phones that are

easy-to-use and fun, as well as able to

bring the internet to the palm of your

hand. You might like the iPhone if you

are looking for a smartphone that is easy

to use and has an unparalleled catalog

of applications to download (many for

free or ad-supported). Mac users will

feel right at home with this phone, but

anyone, even a novice, will be zipping

around delightedly in less than a minute,

it’s that intuitive. On the downside, they

are pricey, and do not offer the kind of

fl exibility in customization that Android

phones can offer.

Send a few texts, take a few

photos, and consider that

the phone you hold in your

hand has more processing

power than the computer that

guided Apollo 11 to the moon.

• Android phones come in a large variety.

You defi nitely get a lot more choice in

style of phone with an Android. Some

Android phones heavily utilize Google

services which is a bonus for those who

are familiar with Google products. If not,

that’s not a setback. While the iPhone

has one big, friendly button to press,

Android phones usually feature a few

more buttons and items to tap on the

screen, so they may require a little bit

of playing to understand what all of the

buttons do. Some Android phones offer

physical keyboards, which can make

typing a little more familiar for those

who don’t care for the touch screens.

Blackberry phones are still hanging on

in the marketplace, despite challenges

keeping up with Androids and iPhones.

Those who use Blackberry phones love

the physical keyboard, which is precise

and easy to use, although Blackberry

now offers touch screen phones as well.

Blackberry phones can also integrate

with email, calendars, and other data

to become your mobile office. Blackberry

does not have nearly the selection of

apps that iPhone or Android offers, so as

technology advances, the Blackberry will

either have to adapt, or it won’t last.

If you do decide to make the switch to a

smartphone, fear not. The technology on these

phones is designed to be as user-friendly as

possible. To get acquainted with a new phone, just

start tapping around. Enjoy the experience. Playing

free games can help you adjust to the feel and

controls of your phone. Send a few texts, take a

few photos, and consider that the phone you hold

in your hand has more processing power than the

computer that guided Apollo 11 to the moon. n

Kristen Burton is the owner of Your Best Friend Pet

Sitting, Hamlin PA and serves as the Treasurer of

NAPPS. She is a dedicated volunteer serving on the

Executive, Governance and Website Committees. Visit

Kristen at www.bestfriendpetsitting.com.

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 12 www.petsitters.org


By John Harper

Do NOT Waste YOUR Time and Money on

Search Engine Optimization

That’s right! We don’t and 70% of our business comes from our websites.

• 70% of the links search users click on are organic—not paid.

• 75% of users never scroll past the fi rst page of search results.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems to be gaining recognition and signifi cance

in the minds of small business owners these days. Unfortunately, most small business

owners do not understand the complexities of SEO or how SEO changes almost daily.

What I see is that “SEO Specialists” have sold a bill of goods to small business

owners that sounds something like this, “I can get your business on the fi rst page of

Google for only $$$ per month.” The SEO fantasy for small business is that they can learn

a few SEO basics and with little effort or small financial investment get their site at the

top of Google search returns.

Stop and think about this. In today’s The SEO fantasy for

highly competitive Internet world is

it logical to think that getting ranked small business is that

high on Google takes no effort or can be

accomplished for a few dollars

they can learn a few SEO

The Good News – You can

basics and with little

accomplish this on your own by investing

20 minutes a day in your online marketing effort or small financial


• Businesses that blog more than investment get their

20 times per month get 5 times

more traffi c than those who blog site at the top of Google

less than 4 times per month.

• Businesses with websites of search returns.

401-1000 pages get 6 times more

leads than lose with 51-100 pages.

Many small business owners look at blogging and Internet marketing from an

outdated advertising mindset.

Over the past few months, I have looked at many pet care and pet sitting websites.

I can assure you, in every city I looked at there is a huge opportunity for someone

(YOU) to dominate their local market.

I have seen some pet care business owners that are doing things 80% to 90% right,

but that 10% to 20% is costing them the results they hope for. Blogging is simple, but to

blog effectively you need to:

• Understand how to format your writing for the search engines

• Ensure that your posts are geographically tied to your market

You can see examples of what I am referring to by visiting www.fl oofi nsandco.

com/news. I wrote the fi rst 3 posts and if you take a look, you will see how to write blog

posts to generate business. I also edited the next few posts to make them geographically

relevant to the search engines.

If you want to generate business from the search engines simply recap your

business day—talk about what you or your pet sitters did, the type of pets, business

service performed, location where service was provided… It’s simple. Convert your

website to a blog (we recommend Wordpress) and invest 20 minutes a day for 6 months

and watch what happens to your site traffic.

The other critical factor for high rankings is inbound links, but that is a topic for

another day. n

John Harper has over 18 years of experience in Internet Marketing and Promotion and is the

president of InfiNet-Marketing.

www.petsitters.org 13 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012


Janet Britton’s Life-long

Love of Pets Turns into

Two decades of Joy

Hudson, Ohio is a town of

approximately 22,000 people

who love their pets. Janet Britton

discovered this quickly when she

relocated to Hudson from Southern

California. She was working out of her home selling

real estate and said that she kept track of which

home was which by remembering the pets that lived

in each house. It occurred to her that maybe she

was missing her calling and so she investigated the

possibility of getting into the pet sitting business.

She contacted a friend of a friend who was a sitter

and began to gather information. When she was

certain that it was a profession she wanted to get

into, Janet put together a business plan. Working

with her attorney she hammered out a short but

thorough contract for clients and had her vet look

over all the documents. Then Janet joined NAPPS,

and in 1992 started her business.

Getting Started

Her first two charges were the dog of a friend

and cats from a client who was referred to her.

These two clients, although with different pets

now, are still clients to this day. Of course, two

clients are not enough to keep a business going,

so Janet quickly implemented a plan. She began

by placing “presentation” ads in the local town

paper. These were not ads in the classifi ed section,

but rather “block”, or display ads in the heart of

the paper. She made them cute or funny and had

immediate responses. Spending the funds for these

“My advice to sitters is to under

promise and over deliver.”

well-placed and clever ads paid off quickly. She

also networked with vets and groomers who were

another rewarding source of business. It didn’t take

long before Janet had plenty of clients.

The ad placement still works well, so much

so that now Janet only advertises once a year, after

spring break which is her busiest 10 days of the

year. In that ad she lists all of the animals that her

company has cared for by name and thanks them

for their good behavior during the spring break

rush. Her clients love this and Janet says she sees

the ad clipped out of the paper and pinned on

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 14 www.petsitters.org

with Auntie Janet By

Rebecca K. O’Connor

refrigerators all over town. Her clients are loyal

and many lovingly call her, “Auntie Janet”. So

she continues to have plenty of animal friends

to look after.

Building the Business

After the fi rst three months of business,

it was obvious that Janet needed some help.

So she chose to hire women who she knew

and trusted. Janet says, “I now have two

gals who have been with me for 15 and 8

years. Whatever the job fee, helpers pay me

10% of their gross every month. This money

pays our yearly insurance.” Her husband,

who is now retired also now helps her and

“Don’t be afraid of

charging what you think

you’re worth.”

sometimes walks the bigger dogs that can be

more challenging to handle.

Janet says the one mistake she made

when she fi rst started the business was not

charging enough. This is a very common

error of those newly in business, because we

often undervalue the worth of the work we

provide. Janet charged much too little and was

underpaid and overly busy. She notes, “Don’t

be afraid of charging what you think you’re

worth.” She also advises spending money on

exceptional gear for yourself. She says, “Here

in the Northeast section of Ohio the winters

can be brutal. So, great coats, long underwear,

super boots and, of course, a solid four wheel

drive vehicle.” Whatever it is that will help you

be comfortable, secure and prepared for your

business in your area will be worth the dollars


20 Years of Lessons

Even though Janet has been in business

for two decades, she has no plans on retiring

anytime soon. She loves her clients, the work

she does and has learned a tremendous amount

about the pet sitting business while putting in

the time and fun. She says, “My advice to sitters

is to under promise and over deliver.” Janet

knows that a tired dog is a good dog and

putting in the extra effort to give a pup some

fun exercise can pay off in less extra work or

problems later. With some dogs, a trip to the

park or a field run may be in order if they are

longtime clients that have proven themselves

obedient. She points out that over time you’ll

know which dogs to trust. She also notes that

smaller “lap dogs” love a good walk too, not

to mention a lap to sit on. Cats may want a bit

more attention as well. A good brushing for a

cat that enjoys it or perhaps a bit of catnip can

make a kitty’s day a bit more fun.

Janet believes you “learn” pet sitting by

doing it. She has discovered that you never

know when a dicey situation will occur, but

the more unexpected challenges you deal with

the more prepared you will be for others that

come. She says that the most important thing is

to be calm and be as prepared you can. Illness,

house problems and exceptional weather can

be just around the corner. She has had to deal

with dogs being diagnosed with diabetes in her

care and even with end of life situations. These

are never easy moments, but emergencies and

unexpected problems will arise from time to

time. Her company visits their dog clients three

times a day and cats usually once a day except

if medication is needed. Chances are that if

anything is amiss, Janet will know and be able

to handle it quickly.

Being selective of the clients you take

on is also something that Janet feels that every

pet sitter should consider. “You don’t have to

service everyone!! Learn to say, ‘NO’. Only you

know your time frame. You’ll wear yourself

out quickly and burn out if you do not pace

yourself properly. Many a day I did not know

whether to eat, sleep or bathe...but, when

beginning a business you must give it your all.”

She does suggest that people make sure to give

themselves time off though, just arrange it well

in advance, months if possible.

Janet keeps her business close and only

works in the town of Hudson. Her home base

is in a five mile radius of any home where they

care for pets. She says they are busy daily, but

especially holidays and spring break. Early

mornings and long days are a daily occurrence,

but Janet says she wouldn’t have it any other

way. All of her clients quickly become family

and come to adore their Auntie Janet. She says,

“This business has been as good to me as for

the pets. Up and out early keeps one moving

and your mind active. Pet sitting is not for

everyone, but it’s been fabulous for me.” n

“Janet has been a

NAPPS member

since 1992.

Twenty years!”

www.petsitters.org 15 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012

Helping Others


Service Dogs

There are an estimated 20,000 service

dogs in the United States doing a

variety of jobs to keep their owners

safe and giving them the ability

to function in society. Despite the

increased numbers of dogs doing this critical

work, most people still do not understand the

rigors and importance of a service dog’s daily

tasks. Perhaps nothing has made that more clear

than a recent incident with a disabled veteran, his

service dog and United Airlines.

Challenges with United Airlines

Jim Stanek, a disabled three-tour Iraq veteran

and the co-founder of the service dog organization

Paws and Stripes suffered a difficult situation when

he had a delay on a long trip with United Airlines.

The ordeal started on July 15 at Dulles International

Airport in Washington, D.C. His layover ended

up lasting three days. During the initial delay his

service dog Sarge was allegedly kicked by United

employees twice. She was not being aggressive but

Stanek thinks perhaps her presence just startled

them. Still, being kicked and being in a stressful

situation definitely took its toll on Sarge who was

showing obvious signs of duress when the two

finally did make their way home on a flight.

After two canceled flights that held him over

for two days, Stanek was understandably anxious

and was also running low on his medication

and was out of food for Sarge. He suffers from

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well

as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which makes it

difficult for him to read and at times understand

situations. A customer service representative

called Stanek “retarded” at one point when he

explained he couldn’t read the paperwork in

front of him. Ultimately a few United employees

were kind to him and helped him out, but Stanek

points out how it is a lack of knowledge and

understanding that created the situation in the

first place.

“I’m not asking for a boycott on United

Airlines, I’m asking that you look at this situation

and how I was treated and my dog was treated and

I’m sure there are other individuals out there that

are going through the same thing,” Stanek says in

the video, which was loaded to YouTube on July

20 and has more than 227,000 views. He wants

people to understand that although he doesn’t

obviously look like he is disabled, his disabilities

are real and people with less visible injuries

should be given empathy and assistance.

Paws and Stripes

This is a message that is particularly close

to Stanek’s heart. With an increased number of

military troops returning home, many veterans

have discovered that the trials of war do not

end once they are safe. Instead, an astounding

number of veterans experience ongoing struggles

with the effects of PTSD. Of the 750,000 veterans

of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than

100,000 have sought mental-health treatment

from the government, and about half of those have

been diagnosed with PTSD. Paws and Stripes, a

nonprofit organization, works to provide service

dogs for veterans of the United States military

suffering from PTSD and TBI. The veteran visits

a shelter and chooses the dog he or she believes

will make the best companion, effectively saving

two lives, that of the vet and the dog. Paws and

Stripes allows the veteran to participate in the

weekly training of the service dog attended by a

veterinarian, from the first day, providing a unique

form of therapy for the veteran.

Paws and Stripes was founded by Jim’s wife,

Lindsey Stanek, after he was sent home from

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 16 www.petsitters.org

Support the work of Paws and Stripes

Don’t forget that you can support the work that Paws and Stripes performs

for veterans. NAPPS members have the opportunity to designate a portion

of their membership dues to Paws and Stripes, participate in several

fundraising activities throughout the year – including a charitable auction

benefitting Paws and Stripes at the NAPPS Annual Conference and

Small Business Forum– and foster greater public awareness of the vital

importance of service dogs for veterans through grassroots initiatives. Find

out more about Paws and Stripes at www.pawsandstripes.org.

his third tour in Iraq for injuries he received on

deployment. After nine months in treatment at

Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX,

Jim discovered that the most comfort and relief he

found was in the presence of therapy dogs. In May

of 2010, Lindsey and Jim tried to obtain a trainer

for their rescue dog, Sarge, and soon discovered

the difficulty and expenses associated with this

process. Training a service dog can cost as much

as $20,000 according to some organizations. After

being either turned down or unable to pay for

service dogs from multiple organizations, Lindsey

and Jim decided to start their own organization

for veterans, and incorporated the organization in

June 2010.

Training a Service Dog

The training for a dog that is responsible

for assisting a handler with PTSD or TBI is

fairly extensive. Some dogs are trained to

maintain a constant 360 degree guard of the

individual, alerting the handler when someone

is approaching who might startle him or her.

Some dogs may be trained to place themselves

between the handler and a stranger if the stranger

is beginning to invade the established personal

space. Some individuals suffering from PTSD

need a buffer between themselves and others

and the dog provides this simply by being a

non-threatening physical barrier. There are also

many other specific tasks a dog can be trained

depending on the needs of the individual.

Aside from specific commands and skills

that the dog is taught, a service dog can also

provide therapy. Callie Wight, a clinician with

the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System,

has suggested psychiatric service dogs to several

patients in the past five years. Wight works with

female veterans who are victims of sexual trauma

like assault, harassment or rape, and, often,

diagnosed with PTSD or depression stemming

from the trauma. Psychiatric

service dogs help with the

social isolation that is common

for such patients. The owners

must walk the dog, go to the

vet and be drawn out of their

safety zone to share their life

with a dog which means being

brought out of isolation.

Dogs are extremely

receptive to our emotional

and psychological states.

When we are agitated, they

become agitated, when we

are excited, they are as well,

and so on. For the veteran, if

their anxiety begins to spike,

the dog will react in a certain

manner. The veteran is forced

to divert focus to getting the

dog at ease and in doing this

is also calmed. In some cases

the dog may lean into the

individual to comfort and remind the veteran

their companion is right there.

Teaching the Public

All of this is incredibly important work,

but members of the public do not automatically

see the partnership that is occurring. Like Jim,

many of those working with service dogs are not

obviously disabled. The lack of understanding

is unfortunate, but it is absolutely essential that

the dog is focused and under as little duress as

is reasonable. A dog that is distracted by a kind

stranger wanting to interact with it may miss an

important cue, such as that their handler is about

to have a seizure and not be able to warn him or

her. And while no dog should be abused, when a

service dog is mistreated, such as being kicked by

strangers, it may be traumatized enough to not be

able to perform its job. As animal professionals,

we can help by sharing this message with others

when we see service dogs in public. n

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have

been through a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something

terrible and scary that you see, hear about, or that happens

to you. During a traumatic event, you think that your life

or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that

you have no control over what is happening around you. Most

people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic

event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don’t go

away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

www.petsitters.org 17 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012

Breed Specific Legislation:

Staying Informed

On July 11, 2012, after a long legal battle lasting over two years, Lennox, a dog deemed to be a pit

bull “type” was destroyed as an illegal breed in Belfast, Ireland. Lennox had a world-wide fan base,

star-power activists for his release and was still ultimately put down. Lennox was first taken into

custody out of concern for public safety and because of the ban on pit bull types of dogs, but it was

never proven conclusively that he was a pit bull.

Pit bulls are illegal to own across Great Britain and according to the Belfast City website:

“The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order

1983 as amended by the Dangerous

Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991

bans certain types of dogs which are

types bred and used for fighting. They


• the type known as pit bull terrier

• Dogo Argentino

• Fila Braziliero

• Japanese Tosa.

It is an offence to own, breed from, give

away, sell, exchange, make a gift of, or

advertise for sale a banned dog.”

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 18 www.petsitters.org

Even if the breed of the dog is disputed

by the owner, the dog could still be

destroyed. The website continues

that, “In the legislation, dangerous

dogs are classified by type, not by breed. This

means that if a dog is considered a dangerous

type, [whether] ownership is not allowed, will

depend on a judgment about its characteristics,

and whether they match the description of

a prohibited type. This assessment of the

characteristics is made by a court. However, if

the prosecution alleges that a dog is a banned

type, the court will assume it is, unless the owner

can provide the court with sufficient evidence to

the contrary.”

Lennox’s owner Caroline Barnes testified

in court that her beloved pet had never bitten

anyone. Although under cross-examination,

she acknowledged that the dog could at times

be aggressive, she noted that the only issue was

with strangers and that the dog was muzzled

whenever someone unknown visited. She

asserted that Lennox was not a danger in her

home. Barnes and her lawyer also argued that

Lennox had not been aggressive at all while

in custody and that the law against pit bulls

included certain exemptions and alternatives to

destruction. The judges were not swayed.

Even after Victoria Stillwell, the host of the

Animal Planet network show “It’s Me or the Dog”

offered to rehome the dog in the United States and

cover all the expenses, the courts were not willing

to accept the alternate possibility. The ultimate

decision was that the dog should not be sent to

another place where he could also be a danger.

The destruction of Lennox created an uproar

across the Internet and reinvigorated a conversation

about breed-specific legislation (BSL).

BSL in the United States

In the United States there are a dozen states

with constitutionally upheld breed specific laws

and there are over 650 cities across the country

with such laws. The laws range from rules on

how a “dangerous” breed must be managed,

such as wearing a muzzle in public or required

sterilization, to the dog being confiscated and

destroyed. The implementation of breed specific

legislation is growing across the country rather

than diminishing primarily because of an

assertion that dog bites are on the rise and dog

attacks are a problem that must be managed.

There is much debate over these statistics and

whether or not they are correct, but just having

the opinion circulated that the problem is large

makes legislators jump at the opportunity to ban

specific breeds when there is a confirmed bite.

“Labeling “good” breeds

and “bad” breeds can

have far reaching


Insurance Companies

Even in areas free from BSL, many

insurance companies restrict the dogs that

can be covered under a home owner’s or

renter’s policy. Dog bite claims cost insurance

companies a tremendous amount of money. It is

estimated that 4.7 million injuries occur from

dog bites each year in the United States, with

800,000 requiring medical treatment. Insurance

companies pay an estimated $250 million a year

in dog bite claims, with an average claim cost

of $12,000. Insurance companies sometimes

attempt to limit their liability for these dog bites

by eliminating what they perceive as high risks.

The list of breeds can be quite extensive as

well and there is no waiver for good behavior.

This discrimination is bad news for owners of

the breed that are blacklisted, but many argue

that there are further implications than this


“Both the Humane Society

and the ASPCA

are opposed to

breed specific law.”

Pet owners who do not have a tremendous

amount of experience with dogs may make

decisions on which dogs to own or interact

with based on the “bad” lists created by

insurance companies. It is possible that breed

specific insurance programs encourage faulty

public perception of breeds that are not black

listed as being inherently safe. The flip side of

this is that when certain breeds are listed as

inherently dangerous it implies to the public that

behavior is not effectively influenced, positively

or negatively, by training. Labeling “good”

breeds and “bad” breeds can have far reaching



The issue becomes even more troublesome

at the legislative level. Dog owners find

themselves not just inconvenienced by looking

for a new insurance company, but worrying

about fines or even the confiscation of their


Both the Humane Society and the ASPCA

are opposed to breed specific law. The Humane

Society of the United States argues against BSL

stating , “While supporters of BSL argue that the

only way to be safe from dog bites is to eradicate

‘dangerous breeds’ from the community, there is

little evidence that supports BSL as an effective

means of reducing dog bites and dog attacks.”

Studies have actually shown that the bite is not

based on breed, but rather environment. Dogs

that are raised in unfavorable situations will

sometimes grow up to be dangerous dogs.

The ASPCA also points to BSL being a

welfare issue. In the organizations statement

on BSL they comment that, “Breed-specific

laws must also be evaluated from a welfare

perspective. Although intended to improve

community safety and comfort, ultimately

these laws can cause hardship to responsible

guardians of properly supervised, friendly, wellsocialized

dogs.” This list of banned dogs can be

tremendous in some localities not only including

Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Wolf-hybrids , but also

a variety of other breeds, including American

Bull Dogs, Mastiffs, Dalmatians, Chow Chows

and any mix of these breeds. While the dog may

have never exhibited any aggression, the owners

may still be faced with compliance of difficult

regulation or be forced to give up their dog.

The ASPCA states, “In Prince George’s County,

Maryland, where Pit Bull Terriers are banned,

the Animal Management Division reports that 80

percent of the approximately 500 to 600 animals

seized and killed by animal control every year

under the ban are nice, family dogs.”

What is happening in the United States is

very reminiscent to the situation with Lennox

in Ireland. Most professional pet organizations

agree that the solution to dog aggression and

biting lies in education, training, spay and

neuter programs and supervision. However, it

is going to be up to professional organizations,

animal professionals and lovers of specific

breeds to sway the opinion of a populace who

believes whatever they hear from the media. It

is an excellent idea to pay attention to city and

state legislation that is being proposed in your

area and keep your network informed of any

legislation that may affect clients and peers. It

is much easier to stop ordinances from passing

than to get them repealed. n

www.petsitters.org 19 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012



Each September, NAPPS board members

normally travel to NAPPS headquarters in New

Jersey to convene a two-day annual fall retreat.

This year, the two-day meeting will be held

virtually; two, four hour days with an aggressive

agenda. Attendees include members of the

current board, board members newly elected

for the coming year and staff. The meeting is a

valuable exercise for the organization. It allows

time for introspection about performance, time

for learning about effectiveness, and time for

making improvements in the functioning of the

board and the organization as a whole.

At the meeting, association business and

planning for the coming year are addressed.

During the planning session the board reviews

the goals and budgets outlined by each of

the NAPPS committee’s to ensure that the

association’s mission and vision: “to be the most

respected authority in professional pet sitting”

are met. One of the most important functions of

the planning phase of the meeting is to develop

the annual budget and ensure that the resources

of the organization are effectively utilized.

Members of the NAPPS board of directors

are the stewards of the association and are

By Cathe Delaney,

NAPPS Administrative Director

responsible for refl ecting the views and interests

of all NAPPS members. The boards take this

responsibility very seriously and are

looking forward to a successful meeting.

We’ll keep you posted on the outcomes of

your board of directors’ 2012 virtual meeting. ■

2012 NAPPS


President, John f. D’ariano

A Pet Sitter Plus


Past President, monica Leighton

Professional Pet Sitting


President-elect, sherry L. suhosky

Jack Rapid Runners


secretary, Yvette gonzales

As You Wish, LLC


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treasurer, Kristen burton

Your Best Friend Pet Sitting


Director, marcia breithaupt

Liberty Home and Pet Services, LLC


Director, Kara Jenkins

TLC House & Pet Sitting Services, LLC


Director, michele gonzalez

Fur Feather Fin Pet Care, LLC


Director, Jessica Dwyer

Whiskers At Home, LLC



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Military Spouses May

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Director, Cyndy Lippert

Whiskers & Wags Professional Pet Sitting, LLC


Director, tiffany Hammer-manson

White Rock Pet Services


Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 20 www.petsitters.org



One of the many benefits of NAPPS membership

is the ability to network with fellow pet sitters

from around the country when you need advice

or support. Check out some of the recent

conversations in the NAPPS chat room and

be sure to participate even if you don’t have

a question of your own. Other members might

benefit when you share your experience!

(Ed. Note: responses have been edited for

clarity and space concerns.)

Hi Everyone,

I am just wondering how many of you charge a

weekend “surcharge” for pet sitting

on the weekends

A local pet sitting group (competitor) charges an

extra $5 a visit if a cat visit is needed on Saturday

and Sunday.

Thank you in advance :)


Small World Pet Sitters


We are supposed to be a service-type business; it

doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me to charge

extra for cats on weekends. Why cats and not

dogs Cats have unique needs too. They need not

be discriminated against.


Pampered Pet Sitting

Most of my business is on the weekends and I find

that most cats are easier to clean up after than

some dogs! I only charge extra if it is a job that

takes more travel time and gas and a lot of time

consuming clean up.


People For Pet Professional Pet Care, TX.

Charging more on weekends for just cats is

peculiar. Many sitters are not good business

people, please keep that in mind.

We don’t charge more for weekend care, only

because I publish our rates on our website. I think

it’s a mistake to have all sorts of “if, and or buts”

when it comes to pricing. People shouldn’t need

a calculator and calendar to fi gure out how much

it’s going cost them.

If I didn’t publish our prices online and quoted

clients for each job, then I would *for sure* charge

more for weekends. Every other business charges

more for weekend work, why are we any different

I use Power Pet Sitter to manage our business and

it has the ability to charge more for weekend work,

so I know some sitters do that.

I am already pushing the limit on our pricing.

Adding extras on top of that will only alienate our

potential customers. Like it or not, many people

choose their pet sitter based on price.


Little Sweethearts Pet Sitting and Dog Walking


My business is primarily Monday-Friday mid-day,

and I charge more for ALL evening and weekend

work. And while I agree that it would be odd to

charge more for cats and not for dogs (which I

wager isn’t even the case here) I think it’s more

about what the market will bear and what make

you feel well compensated.

If you are leaving money on the table by having

cheaper weekend rates, but feel satisfi ed with

your weekend revenues, know you’re maintaining

a price-competitive edge then leave it at that. If

you grumble every Saturday about all the work you

have to do, maybe a little price bump is in order.

I hated the per diem work until I thought to

myself, “what price would make me happy to do

weekends” and then I made that our price. Even

though we are a little high on the price now, I

pretty much never lose business over it.

Long story short, do what feels best for YOU and

your business. You’re a smart lady in a big market,

so I know either way you won’t hurt your business


Running The Pack Inc

Hi Everyone,

Thank you very much for responding.

Let me start by saying that we do charge extra for

dog walks on the weekends. And we charge extra if

we start any pet care before 8am and after 6pm, 7

days a week.

We are very heavy in the pet-sits vs. the dog walks.

That was our choice when we started and then

we slowly added dog walking and we have some

really amazing dog clients but we are selective

with taking on new dogs based on location etc.

We are based in Brooklyn and we only give service

in 3 neighborhoods. We get around by bike or

bus or walking. Another choice. However I have

been feeling tempted to get a car or maybe just a


I was just wondering about the weekend surcharge

because the other group does it. And based on

what Jill said, the group I am referring too does

primarily dog walking during the week so maybe

that is their reasoning too. We are in the service

industry and I think about the very cool bistro

down the street that sells delicious veggie burgers

and probably not a good example but they don’t

charge extra on the weekend. But then the BNB

we just stayed at in NJ last week charges more for

weekend rooms.

So I guess it is all about choices and what one

feels comfortable with charging.

Thank you all again :) ■


Small World Pet Sitters

www.petsitters.org 21 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012



Build rewards with

your exclusive access

to AchieveLinks SM

AchieveLinksSM is a program that connects members like

you and sponsoring companies (Affi nity Partners). Once

enrolled, you will have access to the exclusive, NAPPS

program web site that offers many opportunities for you to

purchase from affi nity partners and earn valuable LinksSM

loyalty reward points that can be redeemed for many exciting reward options.

Here’s How It Works

1. As a NAPPS member, you will earn Links by purchasing the things you do

every day through hundreds of AchieveLinks affi nity partners. This can

be practically anything for your home, work, yourself, or someone close

to you.

2. Redeem your Links for valuable rewards such as a dream vacation,

useful (or fun) merchandise, gift cards, or even a charitable donation.

3. Support NAPPS as you earn Links, with no extra effort on your part. As

you accumulate

Links, we will

also earn for the

purchases you make,

providing funds to

further our mission

and provide you with

even more member

benefi ts.

Enroll Today in

this exciting program

available to NAPPS


Just visit the Pet

Sitter Toolkit Section of

the NAPPS website to

enroll in the AchieveLinks

program and earn

valuable Links that you

can redeem for exciting

rewards. ■

NAPPS 2012


Membership Committee

Jessica abernathy

Member Benefits Committee

isabel alvarez

Business Manual Subcommittee

Cyndy Lippert

Certification Subcommittee

Debra farrington

Emergency Planning Subcommittee

Joyce rheal

Marketing Committee

Karen sloan

Annual Conference Subcommittee

Yvette gonzales

Presents4Pets Subcommittee

tiffany Hammer-manson

Youth Education Subcommittee

Yvette gonzales

Website Task Force

Kristin skelton

Governance Committee

monica Leighton

Animal Law & Welfare Subcommittee

bridget Cramer

Volunteer Coordinator

Lisa faust

Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 22 www.petsitters.org



Your association has an active public

relations and marketing campaign that raises the

visibility of NAPPS, its programs and establishes

NAPPS as the authority in professional pet sitting.

Each month the NAPPS PR team develops

about five press releases to leverage seasonal

and current events to provide regular story ideas

to national media outlets designed to increase

awareness of the organization and the entire

profession. The press room located on our website

houses a library of all the recent releases that

have generated lots of

media interest.

Recently, NAPPS

was mentioned in the

following ways:

www.petsitters.org 23 Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012

To advertise in this section of Professional Pet Sitter, visit www.petsitters.org and click on Store for rates and to order. Ads cost from $72.50 - $95, based on frequency.

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Do you have a product, service or event that you need to promote NAPPS is pleased

to offer classified advertising in the Professional Pet Sitter magazine. Whether you

have a newly published book available, offer consulting services or just want to drive

traffic to you website, your small business classified will give you access to the entire

NAPPS membership.

Ads are offered for single or multiple publish rates. Ads cost $72.50-$95 depending

on the frequency you run them. The Professional Pet Sitter is published four times a

year, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Classified Ads are approximately 2.25 in. X 1.25 in. in size and cannot exceed 135

characters including spaces. Text provided for ads should include easily recognizable


Visit www.petsitters.org and click on Store for rates and to place your order. After your

purchase via the Store Section of the NAPPS website you will receive a confirmation

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Professional Pet Sitter · Fall 2012 24 www.petsitters.org

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