Our Australian Member's Story

Like everyone in our global community, Madolline is a hugely valued member and has been since 2017 and we feel it’s important to give additional background to Madolline’s story and international travel.

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Madolline has travelled the world keeping many beloved cats happy at home and giving pet parents absolute peace of mind when travelling. A travel writer with published articles she has written about her travels and love of pet sitting for our blog and has been interviewed by media in her native Australia, the US & the UK

On a recent sit this April in Oregon, USA, pet parents of kitties Friddo & Pippa said “Invite Madolline to stay with your cats ASAP!! Madolline was an exceptional house and cat sitter. We could not have felt more at ease being so far away from our cat companions for 2.5 weeks.” She admits to having lost count of how many cats she has cared for…

“50 I think, TrustedHousesitters means I get to see new cities and towns with a cat friend by my side”

On this trip to the US, Madolline was in transit from Brisbane Australia, through Los Angeles to Montreal Canada and from what we know the initial issue for being detained was the lack of an onward flight boarding pass. This led to the official opening up of detailed questioning. Words cannot describe how appalled we are at this leading to her being challenged about abortion and her pregnancy history.

We have been in touch with Madolline ever since this incident happened, but the Information on abortion is new and has only come to our attention as a result of this article. It is really disturbing and we are waiting to speak to her on this latest development, and we will of course offer our full support, as we do to all of our members.

Over 12 years, thousands of international pet sits have successfully taken place, members of our TrustedHousesitters team frequently sit internationally as well. The founders built this global business pet sitting across America, Europe and Australia and have been interviewed about our unique business across countries and many media outlets.

Prior to any international sit members are sent information on how to prepare as it is vital to have all travel documents, paperwork and official requirements organised, up to date and at hand. In some cases, house sitting can be interpreted as work by border control officials - this is known as ‘payment in kind’ however there is very little consistency across countries and borders.

What happened to Madolline is extremely unfortunate and we are so sorry for her and the situation she found herself in. To be detained and grilled about pregnancy and abortion, especially in light of recent developments on abortion in the USA, is unconscionable and we hope that this experience will not stop her from doing what she loves, traveling and spending time with cats, housesitting.

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I have no words….this is beyond comprehension :disappointed:. Thank you for sharing her story…hugs for this sweet lady :hugs:

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Maybe you should change the title of the post to “Are you travelling to the US to house sit?” so that people are aware. Truly shocking.

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That is terrible. I suppose, if questioned, we should say we are staying with friends.

This is indeed appalling in relation to the questions about abortion and pregnancy history, and it must have been a horrific experience and for that I sympathise.

I know Madolline was in transit through the US but this serves as a reminder that non-US citizens entering the US on a tourist visa to house sit has, as far as I am aware, always had risks attached. I have seen countless discussions about this and it has always been advised that people DO NOT say they are going to house sit because it would most probably be classed as work and entry could be denied. Personally, I wouldn’t risk it.

I assume it may be the same for many countries, I remember reading a discussion recently, in a Facebook group, about US citizens entering the UK having the same issues, and being advised to lie about the purpose of their visit.

I have only ever done house sits within Europe and have always had freedom of travel. I’m wondering now, with the UK out of the EU if it’s also a problem for UK passport holders going to EU countries to house sit. Does anyone know? Can THS advise on this?

If this case gets a lot of publicity it may make things more difficult. On the other hand it could bring clarity. It will be interesting to see.

What I am most interested in is what advice THS give sitters prior to an international sit. Do you suggest that they lie about the purpose of their visit or do you advise them to get work permit/visa? I’m sure there are a few worried sitters at the moment.

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As i tried to post here yesterday – despite the Guardian (and now TH) emphasizing the grotesque abortion questions she was subjected to the real issue here is that in many countries housesitting, even for free, is considered working and is prohibited on a tourist visa.

I am forever grateful to the person who advised me before my first international sit to not disclose that I was entering the country for a housesit, as I could be refused entry. It’s important for all housesitters to understand this.

Of course TH is not going to counsel anyone to be dishonest with border control. My recommendation: Presumably you accept a sit in another country not for the sit alone, but because there is something about that country that attracts you. When you are asked why you are visiting, you can with complete honesty mention the sights you want to see and experiences you are looking forward to – that’s what they expect from a tourist anyway. For countries where you must fill out a card with your address in country, book a hotel or Airbnb for the first night and use that address.

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Hi @Jilly your question is answered in the post …

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@Angela-HeadOfCommunity, ah, right, thank you, I clicked through on the link and read it. I don’t think I have ever come across it before. I only discovered the blog the other day.
I don’t remember getting it sent to me prior to any of my sits, maybe I overlooked it in my email inbox.
In the light of what has happened in this recent instance would it be prudent to have this information much more prominently displayed BEFORE people start applying for sits outside of their own country? If I were grilled by immigration authorities I would not want to lie, or bend the truth, so I would much rather be fully aware of any possible problems.
I suppose it could be argued that we are all adults and should check these things out ourselves but in the general excitement of applying for, and being accepted for sits, it’s easy to overlook the practicalities.

@teddypdx I would really not be happy if I couldn’t go somewhere without worrying about the legalities. I would be losing sleep over it.
I just wouldn’t want to have to lie or bend the truth but that’s me. Everyone’s different. :woman_shrugging:

So sad. Our thoughts are with her!! :cry:

My sister lives in Cali, one trip I was there for a few weeks, I flew to Montana to visit my best friend who had recently moved home. I left my passport at my sisters and had my Aussie drivers licence for ID, made it to Missoula fine but when it came to flying back they wouldn’t except my foreign licence as ID & told me I had to have my passport for domestic travel! :roll_eyes: The 45min process to get on the flight was a nightmare and not necessary, swab test, ripped everything out of my bag and pat down @ the security gate all because one employee didn’t like the ID. Then the supervisor came over, picked up a book that had images of international approved ID & let me through. I personally wouldn’t mention anything about house sitting to customs, visiting friends only. Its not that far from the truth as you have befriended the owners during the selection process.

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Indeed, we are all individuals and must make our own choices. Europeans have the right to travel and work around Europe, and that’s awesome. Americans do not share this privilege — I don’t know if there’s even one other country that allows us to work, even for free, when we visit. (Some countries do have work visas for young people, which doesn’t help those of us who have aged out of those programs. And some countries are now offering different kinds of work visas, but they are very expensive and are for those with regular paid work.) And likewise I imagine Europeans may not work, even for free, in the US. So 100% complete disclosure pretty much eliminates the possibility of international housesitting, other than for Europeans, in Europe.

Admin Notice: Madolline’s experience was disturbing and as we have not been able to contact her about the personal intrusion described in the Guardian article, which is new information to us, we have decided to close this post out of respect for Madolline and to avoid any government agency becoming the main focus of members comments.

Thank you everyone.

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