Pet sitting with minimal notice

Good morning from North Carolina. My husband and I are certified workers with Baptists on Mission disaster relief team. We stay ready to head to a disaster area as soon as it’s deemed “safe” enough. Sometimes we have 2-3 day notice, sometimes a week. We don’t typically get exact dates. How do we post a listing when we really don’t have a specific time frame? We know how long we’ll be away but that’s the only thing we know.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions. Many thanks,


Perhaps give your best estimate and write what the situation is in the first sentence. The offer to stay longer might also be very helpful to a sitter so they don’t need to worry about hotel costs. PS: We have also seen sits listed where they gave a long time frame (e.g. 1-2 months) and said that they will travel only for 1-2 weeks during the time frame but I find that a bit misleading (we were actually looking for the longer sits and that’s why we clicked).

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Prepare a backup pet sitter plan.

Expecting a free live in sitter to be ready to move in at exactly the times to match your sudden trip plans may be very optimistic.

I sat for a couple who had already left. Home was vacant. Their parents checked me in the next week. Keys, house tour etc.(No pets, only plants)

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Yes, I had the same thought. It might be good to connect with someone in your community who has this kind of flexibility and doesn’t need to travel far to your location. But if you have a backup plan I’m sure THS can help you find a sitter at least some of the time.


Thanks for your thoughts. I am hopefully optimistic that there’s a sitter who would be able to pack their bag and head out on the spur of the moment. :wink:

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Thank you for your suggestions.

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If that doesn’t work, I wonder if someone in your group/church could help out? Friends of ours traveled often and had a young friend stay at their home. She loved getting to stay in a bigger house and to get away from her roommates!


@CindyLou Thank you for the service you provide to those in need. :heart_eyes:

Here are my suggestions:

  • Embed your listing to your forum profile. Consider the constructive feedback you will receive from forum members and edit your listing accordingly. Make it as thorough as possible, but well laid out and organized. You really need to limit a sitter’s need to ask questions before deciding if they are a fit.

  • If you are able to provide a vehicle, great. If not, provide information for transit to reach you, public transit while at your home, options for delivery services for groceries, and such things as Uber. Also, what’s in walkable distance from your home, but define walkable as it’s subjective.

  • You need a similar ‘relief team’ in place to support the arriving sitters. Perhaps a neighbour who can be a resource, someone who can provide a ride to a veterinarian if circumstances warrant it, or who can handle the handover on arrival or departure. Realistically, this support is more important than for most sits, because of your timelines.

  • Keep in mind that listings can be boosted, either based on your membership level, or by contacting membership services, given the reason for your short notice.

  • Use the last-minute sits section on the forum. Every opportunity to promote your listing is important.

  • Ideally, approach some local sitters in advance. Once you’ve had some sits filled, approach that circle of local or repeat sitters, to see if anyone is available. It reduces the time it will take to confirm a sit.

  • Provide a comprehensive and extensive Welcome Guide and make sure it’s always current. It’s likely you will not be able to be easily reached while away, so it’s particularly important in your situation.


@CindyLou if your dates move a lot then it makes it difficult for a sitter to commit. I applied for a local sit where the HO wanted a sitter to commit to moveable dates by a month or so either way or be ready to accept a sit with little notice (she stated a day or so). I withdrew as I try to plan my sits in advance and while being flexible by a day or 2 on dates is fine not knowing when a sit will happen makes it impossible to plan other sits.
Other sitters may think differently.

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I just wanted to share an anecdote that seems applicable here. Very recently, an acquaintance of mine who is a fight attendant, had surgery in a town that was not her home. This surgery resulted in her being grounded for about six weeks and she needed to find accommodations. She joined THS and got a sit in the area right away, then followed up with a second one.

While this is one story, I’m sure its not rare. The particulars may be, but I think there are lots of people living a nomadic live that might appreciate the opportunity for a last minute sit.

Of course, this is not the norm and I think that posting in advance of knowing the actual dates (or dates within a couple days range either way) isn’t going to work for everyone, it definitely could work for some.

I would post the sit with the expected date range, then, explain the situation and that they might shift some. You have nothing to lose by giving that a try. Of course, as others have said, you need to have a plan B because you’re looking for people who are somewhat different from the norm.

  1. So, you will know specific dates but have only a 2–7 day notice?
    1. I think you want to cultivate a network of local sitters. Definitely within driving distance.
  2. You could make a listing and have dummy dates that are the average of how long you’ll be away. Say you’re usually gone three weeks. Make a listing for 3 weeks in January.
    1. In the listing, say at the start (probably the title) that the dates are actually unknown and TBD and why. And that the purpose of the listing is to connect with sitters who are interested in X.
    2. X could be: “sitters who are interested in taking care of our pets so we can perform disaster relief with Baptists on Mission.”
    3. Sitters who “apply” should provide their contact info, and then you can decline their application.
      1. Once someone’s applied, you can always message them on TH. And really you should trade cells/emails, since we’re talking disaster-relief timing.
      2. Sitters should also favorite your listing. That way, they will be notified whenever you post dates.
      3. Make clear in the listing what the title will be for a recruitment listing vs a real disaster listing. E.g., “[recruitment dates] help Baptists on Mission disaster relief” vs “[DISASTER RELIEF! NOT A DRILL!] help Baptists on Mission disaster relief.”
    4. When the listing dates get close (e.g. January), just change the dates to the next month (e.g., February).
  3. I think if you are clear and spread the net, you’ll catch some fish. Everyone wants to help in a disaster, but not everyone can. Someone who can’t go to a disaster area could take care of your pets, and they would be honored to. You just have to help them prepare.
    1. Once you feel you’ve got a good listing, link to it in your forum profile and then ask for feedback here in the forums.
    2. Oh, and ask for feedback on an invitation letter, too.
    3. Then you can invite the sitters in your local area, to develop even more of a local network. Normally, sitters in your area may be more interested in traveling elsewhere. But we’re talking about disaster/emergency situations. I’m sure many would be happy to help in that case. So you just have to make it clear, and ideally help them prepare.
      1. Preparing beforehand is very key, because if there were a hurricane in, say, Louisiana, and I wanted to help, I wouldn’t think to look for pet sits in my hometown in North Carolina. You want a list of local sitters that you can contact immediately with your emergency listing. And you want them pre-vetted so you don’t have to waste time with interviews, video chats, etc. Even better if they’ve already got a copy of your Welcome Guide and been to your house. Then you can just leave for the disaster area.

Sorry for the wall of text. =) Godspeed! –Geoff

One more thought: TH normally requires sitters to stay overnight. As we’re talking about disaster-related work and local sitters, you may want to think about how necessary that is. Once you have connected with reliable, local sitters, it may be easier for both of you to just have the sitter visit your home in the daytime, bring the pets to your place, etc. That might not be a formal TH sit, but hey, TH still played a role in connecting you!


Thank you for the wall of text…lol. You provided great suggestions!


I think 2-3 days or a week is the norm for a last minute sit. For example, I work remotely so can do a sit in shirt notice, as long as I don’t have to travel during a day I am working. My last sit, I traveled in the evening after work and was able to start in time the next day. Then I returned home on a weekend day off.
Having someone, a neighbor or friend, who could hand over keys and give a tour would make this easier in the case you had to leave before the sitter arrived. But, as a last minute sit, you would need a backup if nobody was free to sit for you.

When I first started using TH I was in university living in a shared dormitory accomodation. I sought out local sits to have some alone time (No shared bathroom! No shared kitchen! No shared anything!) So you may be able to find someone local who is looking for that type of benefit over someone traveling to sits from far away. In that situation, it would’ve been easy for me to do a sit with 24 hours notice in most cases, and I would’ve jumped at the chance!
Good luck!


What a wonderful idea!!