The key to finding great bird care is knowing what to ask. Here are some questions you should ask if you’re searching for a sitter for your pet bird:
1. What previous experience do you have with birds?
You don’t want your bird to be the first bird that the sitter is caring for. Ask for references from other bird owners for whom they have provided care and call them. Do they have only one reference or 20? And are the references recent or years old? Get as much information as you can.
2. Are you bonded and insured?
You wouldn’t trust your furniture to movers who are not bonded or insured, so why would you trust an unbonded, uninsured individual with your precious pet? The more accountable the sitter is held, the better. All individuals and organizations caring for pets should be insured, just in case the pet is injured in their care and requires emergency veterinary medical attention (which can be expensive). It’s important to be clear, in advance, about who is responsible if the pet gets hurt or causes property damage or injures someone.
3. What happens if my bird gets sick while I am away?
If your bird is in your home with a sitter be sure to leave your veterinarian’s contact information, plus the address and phone number of the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital. Alert your veterinarian that you will be away and provide him or her with written authorization allowing your sitter to act on your behalf if emergency medical care is required for your bird and you are unreachable. Be sure, too, to arrange for some form of payment for emergency care in your absence.
4. How many times a day will my bird be checked, and how much time will you spend interacting with him?
Birds need to be checked on a minimum of once a day for feeding and cage cleaning, including on weekends. Ideally, they also should have daily out-of-cage time for exercise. To allow this, your caretaker must be comfortable handling your bird and getting him into and out of his cage. Previous bird handling experience is a must.
5. Will you text me photos of my bird?
At a minimum, your bird care provider should text you at least once a day for an update. However, a picture says a thousand words, so ideally your provider should be willing to text message you a photo of your bird a few times while you’re away. Seeing pets playing with toys or eating in a clean cage can help put bird owners at ease.
6. What happens if there is a power outage?
This isn’t something most of us think about, but power outages do happen frequently in some geographic locations and given how sensitive birds can be to rapid temperature changes, it’s best to be prepared. Ideally, your bird should be housed somewhere that has a generator in case the electricity goes off and it might become excessively hot or cold. Even if you don’t have a generator at your home, the local 24-hour veterinary hospital may, so be sure to leave your pet sitter the name and number of that facility so that your bird won’t freeze or overheat if the power goes out.
It’s perfectly normal to be nervous about leaving your beloved bird behind when you go away. However, if you ask the right questions in advance, you should be able to find a reputable care provider who can offer reliable, loving care for your bird so that he can enjoy a vacation while you enjoy yours!