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PET SITTER

Outlook

According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, more than 60 percent of homes in the United States have pets. That means there are more than 100 million cats and dogs, as well as countless other pets like fish, gerbils, birds, and hamsters. It should come as no surprise, then, that in many parts of the country, especially urban areas, pet sitters are in high demand. People are busy. They have full-time jobs, work long or odd hours, and like to split town and go on vacation. Usually their pets must be left behind. And that's where pet sitters come into play.

Pet owners recognize the excellent services offered by professional pet sitters. And they'd much rather leave their pets at home, in a familiar environment, than at a boarding kennel where they're liable to be uncomfortable and frightened. For pet sitters, this means business. How much an individual pet sitter can earn depends on where he or she is working and what types of animals he or she works with, but standard rates generally range from $8 to $15 per pet per visit. And with numbers like that, it's easy to see how things can add up—and fast.

Still, don't expect to make a lot of money when you first start out. Running your own business can be a challenge, especially come tax time. Pet sitters make anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 or more per year. What you make depends on your business. Run it like a pro and you won't be disappointed. A pet sitter from San Francisco had this to say:

I like my job as a pet sitter. There is often a very strange dynamic that exists between owner and pet which the owner seeks to replicate with the pet sitter. It is not unusual to receive novel-length instructions from owners complete with stage directions and dialogue. For example, “Does Brandy want some lovies?” might translate in one client's mind to, “Does Brandy want to eat processed cat food this morning or would she rather go outside and decimate the neighborhood bird population?” And on and on.

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