My chickens are pets!

Our house sitter B has just left, and though she was not very good, on the whole she was not very bad either. Up to a point. I am upset at the way she treated our pet hens.
I made it clear from the beginning that they are pets, not farm produces (and even then…). My Welcome Guide is very clear about their need for cleanness and safety, especially when a village dog has already killed two of them. But B was not very interested in the Welcome Guide, did not want to receive it beforehand (which is strange as most of our HS do) and evidently did’nt refer to it (although it was printed, in a folder, on the kitchen table).
I think that all animals in my care, not just my cats, should be well treated, and I’m upset that my hen was chased, terrified and killed because a gate was not properly shut. Casual email notification from B : “RIP, hen name!”
Then another hen managed to escape from the chicken enclosure, and B response, she explained happily, was to consult Dr Goog. He recommends to use a metal coat hanger to catch a stray chicken. I watched the videos, and so can you. It looks like a very brutal way to catch a chicken, and likely to cause a lot of distress and injuries. “And it works! Good old Goog,” said B cheerfully. “What would we do without them ?” Well, perhaps consult the pet owner.

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@Cecilia48 I am sorry about your experience with this sitter. It doesn’t sound like they were very respectful or responsible. However, be prepared for some on the forum to say that the sitter deserves to tell their side of the story. Personally, I am not convinced that I ALWAYS need to hear both sides. Have you considered how you will be reviewing the sitter.


I’m so sorry this happened to you.


That is awfulll !

And callous!

Deduct a few stars for pet care and for communication.


I would say that it’s quite a red flag if the sitter does not want to receive the digital Welcome Guide in advance (which is just 1 press of the button for HOs to send). E.g. why petsit if you don’t want to hear about how to take care of the pets?? Then one might as well recommend AirBnB instead…

And it doesn’t matter whether you refer to your chickens as pets or not, they’re someone’s animals that are in the sitter’s responsibility and should be well taken care off! I can’t imagine writing a note to an HO about say…someone’s pet rat and write ‘RIP [name]’ (sorry, just got eaten by the neighbours cat after leaving the door open).

Was the sitter new to THS? Because there’s a lot of less-than-ideal sitter stories popping up here lately on the forum, of sitters who do not really seem to understand what THS is about…


It doesn’t sound like this person should be caring for pets of any sort. Have you reported them to membership services?

What a dreadful experience. That sitter should not be sitting and needs to be removed from THS immediately so no other HO suffers like you and your pet hens which, btw, I love.


I had two hens as my son’s first pets as we couldn’t have a dog or cat. They were two blonde hens, Marilyn and Madonna :wink: A dog got in one day and killed both and I was BEYOND distraught, as was my young son, so I totally get where you are coming from. Had the response you received from your sitter, been what I had received if I had one, it would have only exacerbated our pain by them being so blase and uncaring. Despite the fact it was an unavoidable circumstance, and “only” hens, they were still much loved pets and a horrible experience. I feel your pain.


This is so upsetting! My family has a flock of bantams - they are definitely pets (or I often refer to them as an expensive hobby) as they are hardly a reliable source of eggs at some times of the year - and when I arrange for sitters for the family home I do try to find people with chicken experience or who seem like they get it. I always describe the ladies as real characters with their own funny personalities. I agree with others, report that sitter and mention this in their feedback. Chickens do die of natural and sometimes suprising causes (we learnt recently that young roosters are prone to nightime heart attacks) but this is not that. This is negligence and a lack of empathy or even common sense that beggars belief.


Hello, and thanks for your support and advices. Here are some replies to your questions
Yes, refusing to read the Welcome Guide in advance was not a good sign. When we housesit, we read it before and then refer to it regularly for the first couple of days. But it was too late to find somebody else for a 4 week stay.
I am not a vengeful person and I don’t think that B is a really bad character. She befriended an old blind neighbour, visited him every day, was well liked in the neighbourhood, and did not complain when our boiler left her without hot water for days and the plumber had to call about 4 times. So we also benefitted from her being lenient and easy going.

I think she is rather scatterbrain and overconfident, and has no idea that she’s not as good as she thinks. She had glowing reviews (which is why we selected her) but she seemed to be previously housesitting with a partner and this time she was alone. And when she arrived, we thought she looked a bit frail and dainty for the job, and her profile photo was obviously taken quite a few years back. Our listing do say that the housesit will suit fit and active people in this rural environment. Obviously she ignored that too. She may not have been fit enough to shut gates properly, chase away a dog, carry bales of straw for the chicken litter etc. She certainly had no experience of caring for chickens, was surprised when we picked them up. And my chickens run to me when they see me, no need of a coat hanger to catch them.
So in my review, I should certainly refer to all the positive aspects (and she was good with the cats and plants), give her 3 or 4 stars, but hint that she should’nt really house sit on her own (can’t imagine her dealing with large dogs…), pay more attention to instructions or perhaps only deal with healthy cats in a mansion house.


I think the listing regarding pet care is of the utmost importance. I have placed so much emphasis on sitters being fit and able also to be able to act in an emergency I wondered whether I had overdone it and would ever get a sitter again! The result though is most refreshing: Sitters have emphasised their fitness and ability to act quickly if it should be needed and that is my priority. As kind and caring as just about everyone is if they are not able to look after a pet, be it a hen, cat or whatever, because they are ‘elderly’ or incapacitated in some way and unable to act in an emergency then, in my view, they should not be considered for a sit. Anyone can feed an animal but not everyone can look after them!!!All a bit harsh but sentiment doesn’t come into it when I ask someone to care for my animals. Perhaps you should emphasise strongly your requirements regarding care of your pets.

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Thank you, Ken. But you must consider that B’s application was a bit misleading. And over-confidence in Mr Goog’s advice can be damaging. But you are right, we should perhaps emphasise our requirements more strongly, and be more specific about emergencies. The problem is to find the right tone of voice in the listing, not to sound bossy or over anxious, and scare good people away. I think it’s the phone interview I should prepare more carefully. So far, I just used intuition, but I should ask more practical questions.


That is really horrible. I agree with the others that all animals in the sitters care should carefully take care of all animals


Finding the right tone i.e. diplomacy can be difficult. In my profile I have stated quite categorically and clearly the type of people I will accept to sit. I did it because some people don’t really know there own capabilities until it is pointed out to them in black and white! Anyone can feed an animal In fact I wouldn’t need a sitter just to feed my pets, the neighbour can do that!!! I want someone to care for them in an emergency situation and not everyone can do that, they think they could but-----!I have also tempered the profile by being ultra friendly. The offer of a meal out, a tour of the area and buckets-full of information and friendly conversation. The bottom line though is that you have to spell it out! No equivocation or ambiguity; I think genuine people prefer that in any event.

Thank you very much, Ken. Very sound advice. Sent you a message.

When I was young I had a pet chicken (amongst our many others). She was called Scraggy Neck (not very beautiful but totally apt). I carried her around the farm with me :heart: Your pets @Cecilia48 deserve the same care and consideration you give them :raised_hands:t3:


Where are you @Ken? I’d like to read your profile but you haven’t linked it….

@Smiley oh how you read my mind :rofl::joy:

I may be great at some things but computers and modern technology leaves me cold I’m afraid! In simple termsI don’t knowhow to ‘link’ it!! I asked THS how to do it and just received a very polite reply telling me to ‘click’ on his link, which I did but all that did was to bring up my profile!!! If You can tell me how to do it I will gladly send a ‘link’ to you.

Karen has very kindly put my profile on the forum for me. So you should now be able to read it.

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