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.

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