Emergency situations: What If You Are Detained or Incapacitated

Have you ever faced an émergency obliging you to leave before the end of your sit (such as an illness, death of a family member, any other ?)
What solution did you find in order not to leave animals alone ? How did the owners react ? Conséquences on feedbacks ?

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We have had several situations like that but as we sit as a couple one of us stays and one leaves. We would never leave a sit unless absolutely critical.

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Fortunately not so far…

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We house sit as a couple so one of us can go if necessary. I think homeowners like that as i’ve seen quite a few sits ask for or prefer couples and I can see why. We often house sit large country properties with quite a few animals so it’s important someone is there.

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,sometimes owners seek only singles…

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We haven’t had to leave a sit under these circumstances, and as others have said, one of us would go and the other would stay depending on the pets and flights etc, but we do cover the “what-ifs” situation with HOs ahead of the sit.

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A dog trainer I respect recently published a list of information to give a kennel or sitter. On the list were instructions on what should happen if they died during the absence, including where to find the will and other documents and who the dogs’ new guardians would be. We do live in “uncertain times”.

I always leave details of a dog walking/feeding service that knows my dog and have my credit card details, and the name of a family member as an emergency contact. I hope that would cover most emergencies including unexpected quarantine or untimely death.

Would you leave instructions for what should happen if you don’t make it back?

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I’m thinking not. I do leave family contact info so if something like that happened, I’d expect them to contact my family.

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The family would probably get the news first, so it’s probably important that they know our plans for our pets.

Yes, we call it “having the difficult conversations”. As you say @Marj, we live in uncertain times and having emergency contacts, and backup plans for any situation is a very good idea. The TrustedHousesitters welcome guide is great for prompting about emergency contacts, but we always like to take that a bit further, in terms of pet care particularly, because you never know. Sounds like you are very well prepared and that is appreciated massively from a sitter perspective. Thank-you!

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We always ask pet owners before a sit: “In the event you are not able to return as scheduled, to whom should we entrust the care of your pets?”

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It’s always a bit of a worry for sitters that pets might become ill or die during a sit; it hadn’t ever occurred to me to worry about the owners! I was a little anxious when asked to sit for a lovely lady in her mid-eighties and her very elderly dog. In fact the dog died about a week before I was due to sit, so we never got to meet.

Excellent thread. In the past we have covered off what to do if something happened to the pets. Going forward will include HO return delay, as well as us having to leave prior to the end of the sit. This happened to us when COVID struck Italy and we were forced to depart prematurely. The HOs were completely understanding and helpful.

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It’s a good point and something I hadn’t thought of. On one of our sits the homeowner was arriving back very late at night and she had asked if we would spend the final night in a nearby hotel. She said she would meet us the next morning at the hotel for coffee before our flight. She never showed up and I walked over to her apartment as I was concerned that something had happened to her and the dog was left alone. The concierge said he had seen her leave for work so we proceeded to the airport but I was still concerned about the dog. I finally got an email from her - no reason why she didn’t meet us. I thought she was displeased about something but did give us a wonderful reference.

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Very good idea - never thought of asking this but will from now on.

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Good thoughts, I’ll figure out how to ask these questions for future sits.

It’s not something we feel we need to worry about. In the very unlikely and worst case scenario, we’d work something out when/if it happened. But as it is unlikely to happen, we don’t feel that we’d need to make specific plans for each housesit, just seems very overkill. We tend to always get given an emergency contact number anyway, so the responsibility would probably pass on to them and of course I’m sure THS would support however they can too.

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18 months ago I would have agreed that it was highly unlikely, but current news reports are full of sudden border closures, unexpected quarantines, and healthy people becoming unexpectedly very ill.

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