Sitter leaving during a sit due to problem with fleas

We had a very stressful situation with a family who were sitting for us. The sit was meant to be for 10 days but 3 days into the sit, we got a message saying that they weren’t prepared to stay as they had seen fleas in the bedroom where they were sleeping.

We had used regular flea treatments on our pets and had not seen any fleas before we went away. We had also been meticulous in ensuring our house was clean and tidy before the sitters came. The sitters did offer to stay in town and have one of them go in to feed our cats and to let our dogs out night and morning but we declined as we don’t think dogs should be left overnight on their own- and it would have been for 7 nights. We said that we could pay for a pest control firm to sort the flea problem out but the sitters weren’t prepared to go back in the house after it had been treated or do anything else that might need doing (such as daily hoovering the few carpets in our house).

After messaging/ringing friends and contacting kennels (who were all full), I managed to find friends who could take the dogs in for 2 nights until my husband could get home 2 days later.

I probably need to add that the couple did have a baby but house sat full-time and had many reviews to their credit. We think that the flea problem could have been easily sorted if the sitters had been prepared to consider options and help out a bit.

Sorry for the long post but I’m interested in hearing opinions from other house\pet owners. We have had about 25/26 sitters previously and have always received very good feedback.

Post edited to comply with forum posting guidelines

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Hi @Sailorgirl1
I’m sorry this sounds like a bad situation. As someone that’s very allergic to fleas I can understand their reaction especially with a baby if fleas were present. However I think you offered a good solution for them.


Why not?

The sitters offered a solution, and you did not accept it, for reasons that I do not understand.

We have four labradors @pietkuip and we would never leave them alone overnight. Cats yes. Dogs a resounding no! It’s too long and too many risks.


I would never, ever, EVER have left my dog alone overnight, and certainly not for 7 nights. I bought a business once and her separation anxiety was so bad, just being left alone for an extended length of time, she actually started chewing through her foot. Had to be put on anti depressant medication to try to stop it so I understand why this may not have worked in this instance. She was like 13 yrs old so too late to train otherwise, not that I would have.

But also, if I had a baby, I wouldn’t want to take the chance of him/her being bitten all over. Babies react far worse on their new skin than adults do.

Possibly the HO may have had fleas in the past and maybe needed to have the home fumigated BEFORE sitters arrived?


Did you contact member services at the time ? You may have been able to claim the kennel costs from the cancellation insurance ( if you are a Premium Member ) .

This would have needed to been agreed with member services at the time.

Clearly the sitters had genuine concerns about the fleas -as they were willing to stay in town at their own expense and come and feed your dogs . I understand why this wasn’t a suitable solution for you but It does seem like they were trying to find a solution for you .

In any situation where curtailing of sit is involved, I would advise contact member services immediately for their advice.


I can understand why they wouldn’t want their baby being exposed to fleas or insecticide unnecessarily.

If there were flea issues, they should’ve been dealt with before the sit started.


Yes, I should have contacted member services but didn’t think of it as we’d never had an issue before. Regarding the sitters staying in town- it wouldn’t have been at their own expense as they could have stayed with the guy’s parent (which is where they went anyway when they left).

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But as I said in my post, we didn’t know there were any flea issues- they were 3 days into the sit before they saw any fleas


If it’s a first time occurrence and surprised you all, then it seems they were within their rights to protect their baby first, as they saw fit. Imagine if they’d known that going in, they probably wouldn’t have accepted the sit.

About hiring a service to spray: Many people are much more aware nowadays about possible toxins in their living environments and try to avoid them, especially with babies and young kids.

It sounds like an unfortunate surprise and they prioritized their baby over your pets. Many people probably can relate to that.


I can understand both sides. I will say that I would not risk my or my baby’s health either with bites or toxic sprays. Then offering to swing by and feed animals and taking them out to potty was an alternative. I think there might be some sitters who either would have stayed or just left you hanging. Not ideal but at least they were trying to meet you halfway


I don’t think either one of you deserves bad feedback. there’s no rights nor wrongs with what happened. You were unaware of the fleas, and you both offered a fantastic solution, it just didn’t suit the other.

You knew they had a baby, and I think they did the right thing by removing their baby when they were concerned when it’s not their own home, and I can understand them not wanting to go back as they won’t have any idea of what effect the flea treatment would have on their baby.

They didn’t desert you, instead they offered you a really good solution and you offered them a great solution, you are both great in my eyes. One out-of-your-control situation out of 25/26 doesn’t sound bad to me.


Sorry, maybe a bit controversial, and I’ll caveat that I’m also allergic to fleas and don’t cherish any encounters with them, but I think it’s also kind of a reality of looking after animals as is having no control over the cleaners (or insecticides) someone might have used in their home before you arrive. While I appreciate the HS made a choice that was right for them and also offered a very fair solution if I was them I might consider whether HS is right for me at that life stage as things will happen that are out of your control and sometimes you might just need to go with it and make it work. They were lucky to have an exit plan and maybe they somehow manage to always have a similar exit plan when they sit - I can’t say I do and so if this were to happen to me I’d have found the OP’s suggestion pretty reasonable and unless there were other tangible safety concerns would have tried to roll with the punches. One of the reasons I enjoy house sitting is that you get to live like a local and these, to me, are just daily realities of doing that - unavoidable in some climates too.

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That sucks all around. I don’t think the sitters were being unreasonable though- as someone who fleas seem to REALLY love biting and who has a strong reaction to the bites it can get pretty miserable- I remember as a child having welts all over me when our family cat would get fleas and honestly jt was pretty unbearable, verging on traumatic. . I can’t imagine a baby having to deal with that. As an adult I’d grin and bear it, but children can really suffer

If they offered to still come and check on your pets while staying in town (at their own expense?!) they weren’t just looking for a flimsy excuse to get out of this I don’t think. Had it been otherwise then I might assume they had some other reason they wanted to leave , but this shows that they really were trying to do the right thing !

Hope you get the flea situation sorted out. Sorry this happened - stressful all around !

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@Sailorgirl1, sorry to hear of these complications for you. I am a sitter and have a bad reaction to flea bites. So I do understand. A sit I was on in June had fleas somewhere. The house was cleanish. But I’m still not rid of the marks and scars from the welts I get from the bite and it’s autumn now.

I do think health of all concerned should be put at a high priority. Even for us sitters! They did offer to stay in town and help out so it does not seem like they were being difficult as such.

It’s a tricky situation where no one is at fault as such. Rather bad luck with timing…

Did you find/see the fleas upon return?

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I would also never consider leaving our dogs alone overnight, it’s a bit of a worry that you evidently consider that it is fine to do so………

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Of course you get likes and applause for that, @Foldor13 , on this forum.

Given the choice between a dog being on his own at night or an infant being bitten by fleas?

I think the language about “pet parents” and “fur babies” is a bit extremist when it leads to this kind of priorities.

hi @Sailorgirl1, I’m sorry to hear about your situation. Glad you were able to find friends who could take care of your dogs for a couple of nights. Leaving my dog alone overnight is something I wouldn’t even consider.

In certain regions and at specific times of the year, it’s advisable to replenish the treatment ahead of the scheduled due date. For instance, my dog receives a flea and tick control treatment every 12 weeks, but during the hot summer months (July to August), our vet prescribes it to be administered every 10 weeks.

I strongly recommend having a pest control professional address the flea issue in your house. Were the flea treatments provided by your pets’ vet? It might be worthwhile to discuss this with your vet if they were the ones who provided it.Perhaps is not the right dosage.

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Hello :wave: just a quick reminder on this thread to please be respectful of the topic and the people discussing it, even if you disagree with some of what is being said. Healthy debate is what makes this place great, but let’s keep it kind as per our forum values.

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@pietkuip get a grip on this. Fleas are horrible. Totally fine for the sitters to remove themselves & their baby from the sit. Equally, HOs need proper pet care in their absence including overnight supervision for dogs. Your lack of empathy or useful advice is astounding. These situations aren’t black and white.

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