November 05, 2007 07:30 ET

FETCH! Pet Care Warns Pet Owners to Safeguard Their Pets Against Seasonal Ailments, Including Canine Influenza, Parvo Disease & Kennel Cough

Pet Care Expert Offers Top 10 Tips on How to Select a Reputable Professional Pet Sitter

BERKELEY, CA--(Marketwire - November 5, 2007) - With over sixty-three percent of U.S. households owning one or more pets, reports regarding the highly contagious and potentially deadly strains of canine influenza and Parvo disease -- not to mention the highly pervasive kennel cough virus -- have many dog owners worried... particularly those with travel plans in the near future. Indeed, with the glut of catch up required after an out of town trip, a sick dog is the last thing you want to contend with. And, an ailing animal can cut your long-planned, expensive vacation short should you need to come home early to nurse your pet back to good health. So, what's a travel-bound pet owner to do?

Out of concern for their pets' health, well-being and safety, more people are avoiding kennel, boarding and daycare facilities, and even family members or the neighbor's kids, in favor of home-based pet care such as that offered by FETCH! Pet Care -- America's premier pet care franchise offering professional at-home pet sitting and dog walking services.

"It's hard enough for owners to deal with the psychological concerns of boarding their pets in crowded facilities, but the health risks put a pet in double jeopardy," notes Paul Mann, FETCH! Pet Care founder and CEO. "The good news is that sound alternatives that can readily thwart pet illness do exist, such as professional in-home private pet sitting. Reputable in-home pet care services typically visit or stay overnight with dogs, cats and other small animals in their own home, walk dogs one at a time or in very small groups, or privately board or daycare them individually in the comfort and safety of the pet sitter's home. Thus, the disease risk level for in-home pet sitting is considerably lower than that for 'en masse' dog lodging."

FETCH! Pet Care client Jodie M. Minor, Ph.D., a faculty training manager for an online higher education provider, knows all too well the risks involved in facility boarding, as her cat, Minerva, tragically lost its sight due to an unfortunate kennel boarding experience. Jodie notes, "I was forced to place my two cats, Minerva and Merlin, in a recommended kennel after relocating because I couldn't find a qualified pet sitter before a major trip. When I returned, I found Merlin severely depressed and Minerva ill from a Herpes infection, which caused her to lose her eye. I learned a difficult, but invaluable, lesson -- I'll never kennel board again and will instead use a private, in-home sitter."

According to Mann, the better pet care service providers employ a large number of pet sitters to assure each staff member interacts with no more than 5 to 10 animals in a day's time -- even during busy holidays. This exposure is far less than the 50 to 150 dogs that might typically board together in a kennel or daycare facility over a busy holiday season. "Considering the overall savings in avoiding expensive veterinarian bills and assuring the safety and comfort of pets, in-home pet sitting is a much safer and cost-effective pet care alternative all around," he says.

However, the difficulty of finding reliable, at-home service providers has spawned the need for firm guidelines on selecting the right professional. A touch of due diligence is key to ensure you find a highly trained and well-screened animal caretaker to best meet each pet's unique needs -- and each owner's appropriately high expectations.

FETCH! Pet Care offers this advice for selecting a pet sitter:

   1)      Diligently check all of the company's references -- at least
           three should be voluntarily provided;
   2)      Ensure the company is fully bonded and insured;
   3)      Verify that your sitter can accommodate both your pet's daily
           feeding and exercise schedule as well as your desired vacation
           schedule during busy holidays;
   4)      Ensure the company offers 7-day per week telephone and email
   5)      Confirm that your sitter has undergone a criminal background
           check and has received proper training;
   6)      Pre-interview your sitter with your pet(s) present to observe
           interactions and establish a "comfort level" for both you and
           the pet(s);
   7)      Clearly state how you would like your sitter to use his/her
           visit time in terms of walking, playing, feeding, cleaning,
   8)      Provide medical and behavioral history about your pet(s) as well
           as veterinary and other emergency contact information, and
           gather all necessary supplies, including food, vitamins, and
           treats in one central location;
   9)      Ensure the company has "backup" measures in place should your
           sitter have an emergency that prevents them from completing your
  10)      Confirm that your sitter will leave you a pet report card at the
           completion of their assignment and that the company offers a
           customer satisfaction guarantee in case you are dissatisfied
           in any way.

FETCH! Pet Care provides a range of services that meet every need and budget, including boarding and daycare in the sitter's home, overnight sitting or daily visits in the client's home, private and group dog walks, pet taxiing, pet yard waste removal, and miscellaneous home care. A free in-home consultation permits clients, pets and sitters to get pre-acquainted and address each pet's unique needs.

Consumers and interested business affiliates can reach FETCH! Pet Care through its Web site at or via toll-free telephone at 1-866-FETCH-ME, where they simply enter their 5-digit zip code to be quickly connected to the FETCH! Pet Care office nearest them.

About FETCH! Pet Care, Inc.

Founded in 2002 and with over 1,200 service areas across the United States, FETCH! Pet Care is the pet sitting industry market leader -- the new face of pet care in the 21st century. The company offers a humane alternative to kennel boarding by providing loving, in-home overnight and/or daily care to any kind of pet in the most professional and reliable manner possible. FETCH! Pet Care's carefully selected, screened and trained pet sitters and dog walkers, who are all pet owners themselves, have serviced over 7,500 clients this past year alone. The company has been featured in Small Business Opportunities magazine's top 20 "Boom Businesses" to get into in 2007, named among Pet Product News International's "25 to Watch in 2007" and included in Entrepreneur magazine's coveted Franchise 500 list in January 2007 and in its "7 Hot Businesses That Can Make You Rich" feature in September 2007. For franchise information or to find a location near you, visit the company's Web site at or call the corporate office at 1-866-FETCHME.

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