Family emergencies when sitting

Hi, I have been wondering how to make a Plan B in case of any unexpected family emergency whilst I’m on a sit. I’m about to embark on a two month sit, so am feeling a little anxious about this, as we have no control over illness, accidents or worse, and there are surely some extreme situations in which you would absolutely need to leave. I would never dream of leaving any pet for even one day, so what do we do? Is there, or is it possible to arrange, a telephone tree or similar within the forum for emergencies? Maybe create a specific area in the App for emergency sitters needed, accessible by sitters with owners having final approval? I think it would benefit sitters as well as owners to have some kind of highly visible, efficient backup in case of genuine emergency only. It’s easy to say don’t accept sits if your situation is vulnerable, but we’re all vulnerable to the unexpected all the time, so it seems sensible to address it. Would anyone consider offering short-notice emergency cover during their un-booked time if it appeared as an App notification and was a genuine emergency? PS sorry if this is already a topic, I found the search system here really unhelpful :frowning:

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This is a very good point, and three thoughts come to mind.

  1. Wouldn’t it fall to the HO to assign an emergency contact? It would be a person they know and trust, who could assist when things go south - both for the pets/property and the sitter? Although a sitter would feel terrible about having to leave due to an emergency, it might feel nicer for the HO to know that someone they know/trust will help out, rather than another stranger?

  2. I guess the suggestion of other sitters offering emergency cover would heavily depend on location. Personally I might be interested in something like that, but we keep moving around, being nomads, so it will be hit and miss who’s in the general area around that time. I also think if you contact THS membership services or support, then they will advise how to proceed.

  3. There are also another thread where people suggested sitters always put a little card in their purse/coin purse that states: “Unattended pets at home” and please contact home owners (or their emergency contact people) in case of an accident, with the HO’s phone numbers. At least then the emergency services will know where to go from there.


It’s best to ask the HO before the sit what their backup plan would be. They might 1. ask family and friends, 2. go back immediately, 3. have paid backup sitters in the area, 4. or relist the sit (possibly on multiple platforms). We also know a couple of people who also sit animals but they also have their own lives and are only interested in very specific sits (easy cat on the beach e.g.).

I would help out if I could, if THS announced some uncovered emergency.


@Tyger I agree with the comment that the backup plan needs to be a consideration for the owner to make. Otherwise, they might have someone taking over that they had not screened.

I’m a solo sitter, and I always ask about their backup plan. Oftentimes I then get an answer that there really isn’t anyone and that’s why I’m there. I then give the scenario - let’s say I have a heart attack - think about who might be able to step in, even if for a short while. Then I get useful responses. They then realize why I ask this question.

Also keep in mind that Membership Services will also step in and do their best to guide and support you.

Make sure to also keep your account current as to your contact person, in the case of an emergency. Using the dropdown arrow next to your name on your homepage, go to Settings, then Safety Contacts.


As sitters, when we do a video chat with prospective homeowners, we always ask who their LOCAL emergency contacts are, in the event of the unexpected – for either the sitters or HOs.

If they don’t have one yet, we ask that they think about it and put that in the Welcome Guide. We do ask for the WG within a week or two of the video chat. That request can serve as a soft “deadline” for them to get that piece resolved.


Hi everyone - I have been sent a really extensive questionnaire to complete by a pet parent and one of her questions is what would I do in the case of a personal emergency on a 4 week sit.

This is a very good question. Naturally I would not abandon the animals but are any costs arising from arrangements made to cover their care my responsibility or the owners and can either of us insure ourselves against such an eventuality through Trusted Housesitters or elsewhere?

I have asked this question using the chat on the TH website but no one is answering me…

Many thanks for any advice you can give me on this…

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Hi @Eledone

A warm welcome to the forum. I am sure you will get lots of good feedback here.

I have moved your post to this thread, which will be of better help.

Also do search the other threads on emergency with the spy glass to have a look at other discussions around this subject.

In an emergency situation like this, the pet parent should always have a backup plan. TrustedHousesitters can assist in re-listing and finding another sitter to help in the meantime, but pet parents should always have contacts who can step in quickly in cases of high emergency.

If the pet parent is a premium member, they would be able to kennel the pets or find a paid sitter to come and help, which would fall into their insurance plan should they not find a replacement sitter.

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Thanks Therese - I wasn’t sure as to whether the HO could cover themselves for this. This HO is being very particular about every aspect of vetting me so I can now raise that with her as a way of covering that situation should it arise.

I know I’m late in my response, but I had to leave the country during a house sit for a loved ones’ funeral. So I found someone willing to look after the dog in their home, and paid for the service. I figured it was my responsibility, I let the owners know that I had to leave, and that I had organised someone to look after the dog. I didn’t mention the cost, I just wanted to keep things simple.


I think this is really more something the HO should be concerned with. We are two people but we still like to ask what their backup plan would be in case of an emergency (family, friends, paid sitters etc.). We have had HOs cancel on us on short-notice but they never offered to arrange an alternative for us. There’s certainly a risk for both sides.

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Hi @Eledone
I see that you have good feedback on your question.
However, I am a little concerned at the really extensive questionnaire that the HO has sent you. Is it over the top?
Are you comfortable with it all?
They may turn out to be over controlling during your sit.
I would recommended that you consider this carefully before you commit.


@Itchyfeet @Eledone I was thinking the same thing that Itchyfeet mentioned. Could be a red flag indicating an over-controlling HO.

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The questionnaire thing also seems a bit odd to me. People often ask us a bunch of questions during an interview but never send us a written questionnaire.


Hi @Eledone, this is a home owner issue not your issue. They are the ones who need a backup plan as no one knows what life (or death) will throw at them. Your gut instinct is already warning you about this sit. Note @Itchyfeet’s words:

My advice is (if you are going forward answering the long questionnaire, which by the way is not normal) be totally honest in your reply about what you would do. If the home owner doesn’t like your reply and you don’t get the sit then that’s to your benefit, and move on. My response to the questionnaire would be withdrawing my application!


Echoing what others have said, a long questionnaire is not normal practice and I would see it as a red flag. Expecting you to complete something rather like a foemal written job application suggests that the homeowner has not grasped the mutual exchange or trust that forms the basis of TrustedHousesitters.

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I have just heard from the house/pet owners of an emergency which needs them to return home. I totally understand and want to do everything possible to accommodate their needs. We are less than a week into the sit and had agreed to stay for a month. Given the circumstances we will want to stay until they return. We are hundreds of miles away from home and wondering if anyone has any advice? Cheers Gilly

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Unfortunately, this does happen from time to time. We were sometimes allowed to stay for a couple of days after their return. We’d recommend to look for alternative last-minute sits, perhaps on multiple platforms. During the lockdown periods we also once rented out a flat for 1 month or we volunteered at animal sanctuaries (in exchange for accommodation). PS: Workaway is another option (there are also Facebook groups for that & pet sitting).

Hi @Eledone
That approach sounds like a job interview approach, which in some ways I think is ok. I would reply (if I were going to take this sit…checklist n’all), to them that I first would need to know how they would want emergencies handled so that I could follow their expectations. I would give an example how I may have handled something in the past, if applicable, to reassure them but IMO the HO should actually have a plan.

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@Gilly2 you need to be seeking help from membership support about this. Maybe @Angela-HeadOfCommunity or @Therese-Moderator can assist you