How do homeowner's protect their pets and homes during a sit?

I know, we aren’t supposed to have the cameras on in our homes. I have indoor cameras that face the doors/patio doors of my home; they are configured in a way to not show the inside of the main living area, only the door, and they are a requirement of my homeowner’s insurance. But whatever, can’t have the cameras turned on, per the THS rules.

As a homeowner and pet owner, I wish we could! I wish I had had cameras on in the main area just to see what the heck happened in my home!

Arrived home recently to a dirty home, filthy kitchen, gross bathrooms, microwave that had some sort of food explosion in it, grease all over stove and walls, fur balls in corners, etc. Sitters had rearranged furniture, left windows open (it’s 97 degrees here!), had water running in one of the master bath sinks (!thankfully the stopper was not closed!), items removed from locations and not returned, lights left on in closets, etc.

I made a point of having a very clean home before the sitter arrived. I also requested a grocery list from the sitters, and did the grocery shopping so they could settle in right away and not have to run out for milk, bread, etc. I did what I felt was right for the sitters coming to stay in my home with my fur babies.

I did let them know of my desire for a clean home upon arrival. They told me it’s part of the Trusted Housesitter rules and it would be clean.

It was not.

But, the worst part, my dog, a 65 pound mix, is missing all fur around her front snout, and it appears she had burned herself around the mouth and had blisters on her gums and roof of mouth that are healing.


Housesitters say they don’t know what happened.

I did not express blame to them, I only asked if my dog had gotten into something?

From the looks of it, my dog either drank a very hot liquid (the sitters did boil up some chicken breast that I had left for my dog to be used as treats, so perhaps they gave it to her with the hot liquid?), or somehow my dog burned herself, but the sitters say they know nothing.

Either way, my dog is injured, and I don’t know how.

Then there are all the blood spots in my home. The sitters brought their own dog, which I was fine with. Both dogs got along well, and my cats adapted well after a couple of days.

Speculation only, but I think their dog went into heat though while she was here. The blood spots throughout the house are indicative of a female dog in heat. I don’t care if their dog went into heat, but I do care the way the blood around my house was handled.

I intially asked the sitter if her dog had injured herself, since I found blood throughout the house and my animals did not have any fresh cuts on them. The sitter said oh, their dog maybe cut her paw, or maybe caught her her nail on something.

It wasn’t until later, when I started walking around my home, that I realized the blood was throughout my home, and was most likely from a dog in heat. The blood was not in the area where my dog spends her time.

I would have appreciated honesty. I would not be upset if there had just been an “I am sorry, xyz happened”.

Of course, if the housesitter had washed the floors with the Swiffer WetJet there would not have been any blood spots. But, the sitter did not clean the house before we arrived home.

I am now cleaning all rooms in my house, since they made use of every room in my 4 bedroom home, and I also have to clean the carpets due to the blood.

When we arrived home, the sitter’s dog was in their car already, and when I asked to say goodbye to their dog, I was told it was easier for her to be isolated to prepare for their drive back home. I thought it was odd, but figured they knew their dog’s needs better than I did.

I hadn’t had a look at my house yet at that point.

If my cameras had been on, I would know more of what happened in my home.

I am very angry. I am ready to leave an honest review of the sitter, which will be an honest but negative review, but my husband says I don’t have proof of anything but a dirty house, everything is speculation, and I should let it slide because the sitters will probably retaliate in some way, it won’t go well, and we will never have anyone that wants to sit for us again.

I know, I should have taken pictures. I had been in transit for over 24 hours, without sleep, and all I wanted was to shower and go to bed (which the sitter had been told both in phone interviews and in person, and sitters had agreed the house would be clean).

I really wish homeowners had a way to protect their pets and homes.

I did contact THS. I was told I could lodge a formal complaint, but I have no dated pictures of the home and dog, upon arrival as all I could think of at the time was “clean house and take care of my dog”, and truly my husband is correct, it is all speculation.

I did request a refund of the money I paid for the premium membership, but I was told it is past 14 days and I am not able to have a refund. I hightly doubt I will use THS again though.

How do other homeowners protect their pets and homes? Is leaving a negative review really the best course of action, or did you fear retaliation?

You are clearly writing very reasonably. A review like this won’t look bad on you. You clearly have a nice home. I would not worry about retaliation. You will get new applications.

I have a sit confirmed for next month where there were negative reviews on both sides. It was not difficult to make out who were the reasonable people there.


Agree with @pietkuip. I’m so sorry you had to deal with such terrible sitters.

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What a nightmare. I would give the honest review to protect other home owners. I assume that these sitters did not have any reviews already. As a sitter, I am angry too as bad experiences like that will make you and other owners wary of letting strangers into your house again. I feel THS should have been more supportive.


Hello @hazelanibunny and I am very sorry to hear what has happened and I hope your dog recovers soon. Can I ask if this was a sitter who was new to THS or if they had previous reviews?

I would like to re-assure you that this is not normal behaviour of sitters, I know this doesn’t help following what has happened but I believe you were very, very unlucky. Sitters like myself and my husband are dedicated to the care and wellbeing of your pets and make sure everything is perfect for your return.

I agree that you should be honest in your review and clearly explain what happened. Please do not let this bad experience put you off, there are many wonderful sitters out there. I am not sure if you did on this occasion, but I highly recommend having a video call with any potential sitters before confirming them in future and this normally gives you more of an idea of who will be looking after your pets and home.

I have attached a thread you may also like to read which is regarding a fear of leaving an honest negative review.


This is horrible!I hope your dog is okay and his mouth heals quickly. Poor thing. Honestly, if I had your experience I would take the loss and quit THS. As there is no assistance or recourse when something like this happens I doubt I’d be able to relax on future trips. The only reason I’d stay would be if I could arrange to have repeat sitters I already knew and trusted. Definitely leave an honest review, leave out the assumptions about dog in heat but mention the blood and the mess, and be clear about your dog’s mouth being burned and them not being aware of it. Photos would do little good since there’s no way to post them with your review.

Did this sitter have prior good reviews? I know some HO’s expect the moon and unfairly criticize sitters who’ve done their best in difficult situations, but their lack of concern or openness is what scares me the most. It’s just crazy to me someone would be so irresponsible and unkind.

And sorry, I didn’t address your question and don’t have a good answer re: how to protect my home. In three years it’s never been an issue. I’ve had some eyebrow raising things crop up but nothing serious enough to warrant a security camera or even a “what the heck happened” follow up with the sitter. Most sitters here are competent and trustworthy, though I do feel like standards on both sides are slipping as the member base grows.


I am so sorry that you have had such a terrible first sitter experience. It makes me angry too that such sitters exist! They give the rest of us a bad name. My hubby & I are so responsible, and take our role as sitters so seriously, as do most sitters, I believe, that it is hard to imagine such a situation occuring. Just awful- your poor dog suffering like that and you having to come home to such chaos. We always pride ourselves on leaving the home as beautiful as possible and ofcourse happy healthy pets.
This behaviour from your sitters, and their lack of transparency is absolutely not normal. Please don’t let this be your measure of other Trusted Housesitters. Most of us will act with the utmost care, honesty and integrity and I sencerely hope you’ll (risk having a housesitter again) and have a positive experience next time to counteract this bad start.
And please do write an honest review of those sitters and don’t worry if they retaliate. Most people can read between the lines and will know who is speaking the truth.


One way is to keep in touch. My present HOs are the most hands-off so far, but I send them a message at least twice a week anyway, when there is something more to tell than “dog is eating well”. With a picture of the dog. Yesterday evening he had taken a slice of pizza in the park, so I sent a message today mentioning that, and that all was well, that there had been no vomit on the floor. And the HO will just answer something like: “Naughty!” and a smiley.

Most other HOs had appreciated almost daily messages and photos. And I like doing that, I find that no burden at all. I will also send a photo when I break a coffee mug or something like that. When there is just a cat, the messages are more about what I am doing.


@hazelanibunny so sorry to hear of your experience.

Whilst you don’t have photos of the blood etc in your home - you can take photos of the injury to your dog’s mouth.

Priority is always that your pet is looked after . Accidents happen but neglect is very serious complaint. We all accept that accidents can happen - however sitter should have been aware of what happened , when it happened and informed you immediately so that veterinary help could have been given if you wished. So I would go back to THS with these photos - missing fur, blisters- maybe get a letter from your vet describing the injury too and screenshots of all texts/ messages with sitters which is “evidence” that they did not inform you of this injury to your dog .

Once again on behalf of all the responsible sitters so sorry that this has happened.


First of all I apologise for this pet sitter and please be assured most of us take our responsibilities seriously and you pets, home and garden will be treated with respect.
I do no agree with your husband. You have 100% evidence that the mess and injuries to your dog were caused by the sitter. What! Did someone sneak in and splatter blood around or a thief in the night decided to burn your dogs mouth? I am at my wits end trying to understand this sitter leaving such destruction in their wake. It only takes a couple of hours to clean up after a particularly long sit. But I’m the kind of person who cleans up mess as it happens as I cannot sit looking at crumbs on a table or dirty dishes in a sink.
How do you protect your pets and home while away without interfering with your sitter’s privacies? Very good question and difficult to answer. I would never do a sit if I knew I was being constantly monitored by cameras. Viewing would not be nice and I would hate to subject a home owner to my husband drinking his morning coffee in his night attire, or lack of night attire. Seriously, it would be a huge infringement of privacy for me. I deal with ring door cameras and outside cameras monitoring driveways and grounds but nothing inside the house.
Did you do a video call with these sitters before you accepted them? Was there any red flags? Did they have references and reviews? Maybe, next time, ask probing questions about their life style, their own pets. It is obviously going to take a lot of courage to accept another pet sitter into your home. My advice would be to be very canny, pick someone local and meet them before you accept, read everything about them thoroughly and listen very carefully to their answers to questions.
Good luck and I hope you find someone more suitable to look after you pets and home. There are some fantastic people on THS but you have to eliminate the dredge before you find a diamond.


Hi hazelanibunny,

I am sorry about your dog. I could only recommend you to ask for daily photo updates. I send photos every day to pet owners. Or even ask for a video call during the sitting. If you tell future sitters your story they will understand.

Regarding the cameras, this could prevent sitters to apply for your sitting. I wouldn’t apply for a sitting if I know that people that I don’t know could watch me all the time.

I’m so sorry you had this type of experience. You should absolutely write your honest negative review. I have seen negative feedback listings while searching and it didn’t prevent other sitters from applying. In fact, I applied for one where there was a negative review and I had a great experience. We need more honest reviews because like I stated in a other post, it’s weird to see so many 5⭐ reviews. You can’t trust the review system here.

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Thanks everyone for the understanding comments and suggestions.

I did have many email and text messages with the sitter before we had a lengthy phone conversation. I did express to her that I liked having daily updates and photos, and she said that of course her and her husband would do that. I expressed my desire for a clean home upon arrival, and was told they are clean people. I was upfront about everything.

This sitter does have a review, 5* in fact, but now that I am understanding this site better, I realize the review is not from THS. I can not find any reviews of this sitter here on THS.

There were days when I did not hear anything from the housesitter. I would text her for updates, and receive replies the next day, with a picture of one of the pets. I asked for pictures of all 3 pets. Those came occasionally.

She did mention she would send videos of the dogs playing. Two days later, I asked if she had had time to take those videos yet (benefit of the doubt because perhaps she and her husband where busy with their computer work and hadn’t had time, or it was raining, some benefit of doubt to give them the chance to follow through on the agreement of daily pictures and some videos).

I was starting to wonder if they were even at my home. My video cameras were off, per THS rules, so yes, I was a few thousand miles away and panicking. But eventually a text or a picture would come in, and I would chalk it up to my own anxiety over my furry family members.

Our family pets are family members for us and I won’t leave them with someone I don’t trust. I truly thought this person looked good on their write-up, and I felt good about the phone interview. I had no problem with a husband and wife team that also included their dog.

Now, I am trying to find the clues that I missed.

I will write a review. I will follow the suggestions of being more factual and less speculative.

I keep thinking that giving it a few more days will help me calm down, but then I will find broken glass behind the kitchen table leg and wonder all over again what the heck happened in my home! But I will leave a review, because I do want this person to know how important honesty is to homeowners while the sitter is caring for beloved furry family members, and I want potential homeowners to make informed decisions on who is in their home.


Give the sitter a LOUSY Review and list the things they did to your home and pet. It is a permanent record and they will never be sitting for anyone, again. That’s the BEST thing you could do.

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@hazelanibunny The more I read, the more shocking it gets. It makes me really angry that there are sitters behaving that way. Even their communication was terrible.

No. They should not be sitting for others.

I would also suggest taking a few days to calm down. But we have been sitters at a really uncomfortable and dirty home once, and it took ages for me to be calm about it. Weeks. In honesty, it’s like a form of post traumatic stress.

Your question: you need to select sitters with lots of 5 star reviews. Not necessarily dozens, but at least 8? And most of those reviews should specifically mention that they ‘left our house sparkling’ - then you know that those sitters pride themselves on leaving homes extra clean.

It’s not foolproof, but at least it’s a start.

About cameras: always think how you would feel if you were a sitter in a stranger’s home. Would you like to be watched? So no, that’s the reason why cameras are not allowed.

I’m so sorry for your terrible experience, it is definitely not the norm. I hope your dog recovers fully :heart:


Hi @hazelanibunny. Thank you so much for sharing. I encourage your perspective here. There is no time limit on when you can write a review, and you can do it only once. It’s also possible that if you wait long enough, we’ll have the vaunted “blind review” system that we’ve all been hoping for. (Sometime this year? Fingers crossed.)

While you wait, you can continue to take photos and jot notes (including feelings). Also, you should ask the sitters to give you a review (it’s called “feedback” on TH).

I understand your desire to see what red flags you may have missed. And then it’s tricky because that may lead to profiling, which would exclude some great sitters. I’m not a fan of systemic profiling, but if it’s done by an individual temporarily while they grow, I can see that. For example, you could avoid sitters with 0 TH reviews (vs external references), until you’ve had a couple better sitters stay at your home for comparison. Even if your first sit went smoothly, you’d find that you learn a lot each time, about what you want in a sitter for your pets and home.

Some PPs like younger sitters, and some older (you didn’t specify what they were, and that’s fine). Some PPs like those who own their own home (vs renting).

You said there was a phone interview? Maybe insist on a video interview next time.

I was trying to think from the sitters’ perspective. If we assume they messed up, then they know that, and they may be afraid of their sitting career being ruined, being sued, asked for damages, etc. I mean, that’s why people lie and run away sometimes. A friend’s adult grandson and his wife once had an overflowing toilet they didn’t know how to fix (didn’t know how to turn off the water), so they just left the apartment and fled to another state, without telling anyone … yeah …. Will they mature when they’re like … 40? Hope so; they have a newborn so maybe that’ll shake things up.

How do we know when someone is honest? When someone has integrity? That’s a great question! One to ponder for a bit before you write your review, perhaps. But I’m guessing we don’t know fully, because plenty of times an “honest” person will be exposed later (think some celebrities), or a person will be accused of a crime that decades later we’ll find they didn’t commit. Go with your gut. The more (diverse) sitters you have, the more your gut instinct will grow.


Hello @hazelanibunny and apologies on behalf of all the wonderful THS sitters out there. We feel both sad and mad on your behalf. You’ve had lots of good advice already but here’s a bit more from seasoned sitters. Definitely take lots of photos of both your poor dog and the state of the house and send them all to support. If the sitters have no reviews our hope is that THS might even throw them off the site for such destruction on their first sit. If not, you could as @geoff.hom says, wait a few days and then write your review when you’ve had a chance to reflect and choose best tactics. Blow them out the water! They deserve it and to never sit again. If they write a nasty bit of feedback we’d be tempted to write something like “please see sitter review for the full & real story.” It says everything and nothing in a dignified way. If you’re brave enough, please try sitters again when you’re ready. As maybe @botvot said, taking sitters with a benchmark of excellent reviews, say 8 or so, is good to start you off, a video call is an essential for us and would be well advised for you too. This an exception not the rule and whilst it doesn’t help, you hear the occasional horror story on Airbnb and other platforms, it’s just a few bad eggs in an otherwise great community. Sincerely hope your lovely pooch recovers soon.


And why didn’t you? Was it because after spending 24 hours in transit, you were too tired and needed to sleep? Angry as you were? Hmm. The anger alone should have kept you awake for 5 more minutes. Why didn’t you take any pictures when you woke up? Without any pictures, it’s a “she said, they said situation” to me, and we don’t know what they said - other than “we don’t know.”

I apologize if this sounds too harsh, but the title of your posts rubs me the wrong way. If things don’t go 100% to the liking of the members (both hosts and sitters), they tend to overdramatize the situation, let their emotions take over, and vent on this forum looking for sympathy. And if your own husband advised you “to let it slide,” things couldn’t have been as bad.

I can understand why you would have thought that. In my opinion, THS should display external reviews in a clearly different way, just text, no star system.

I am not quite sure how the site looks for HOs but I believe that in the app interface you could have seen if these awful sitters had any sits where the HOs did not give a reference. Because that is what many people do, out of fear for retaliation. (It is very unfortunate that THS is not displaying those in the web interface.)

I am very sorry for you and for your pets.