The idea of having someone look after a pet during the day is extremely popular in big cities, and many pet sitters also take on the extra role of dog walker. But what happens when the pet you are sitting bites someone, or gets injured because of its own actions? Are you liable for pet injuries and dog bites, or are there ways to protect yourself?
Pet Sitters Need To Ask Questions
When a pet sitter takes responsibility for caring for an animal, the sitter also assumes responsibility for anything that pet does. If a cat scratches a sitter while they are trying to feed it, the sitter cannot sue the owner because they were considered to be in charge of the animal at the time. Any dog bites received by unsuspecting members of the public while a dog walker or pet sitter is in charge of the dog are the responsibility of the pet sitter.
victim bitten by a dog with a history of biting people in the past can automatically sue to recover court costs, lost wages, medical costs, and any costs associated with the attack. A pet sitter who does not know that they are caring for a dog that has attacked in the past is setting themselves up to take on a significant financial burden if that dog bites again while the sitter is watching it.
Pet sitters & dog walkers should protect themselves from liability by getting pet owners to sign agreements stating the history of the animal and anything else the sitter may need to know. While it is up to the court to decide if this sort of agreement absolves the sitter of any damage the pet has done, it is still more protection than not having any agreement at all.
The Ins And Outs Of A Pet Sitting Agreement
Before any pet sitter agrees to take on a new client, that sitter should get the pet's owner to sign a very specific type of agreement. In this agreement, the owner should disclose:
Any behavioral issues
Any officially recorded past problems
Not only does this type of contract protect the sitter from liability, it also allows the sitter to do the best possible job at taking care of a pet and protecting the public. An agreement like this can also point out details such as things the pet is allergic to, in order for the pet sitter to avoid such allergens.
The end of the contract is the portion that outlines exactly what the owner expects, and what the sitter is responsible for. It should have emergency contact information the sitter would need, detailed information on the responsibilities of the client, and indicate what the client will take responsibility for if the pet were to attack the sitter or another person.
Getting Your Own Insurance
When it comes to worker's compensation and liability insurance, a reputable pet sitter should have both these important types of insurance. Relying on the client to have some sort of insurance to cover your potential injuries is a significant risk.
Pet sitters and dog walkers should always have their own insurance and be properly licensed to work in their state. When the sitter has all of their insurance and licensing in place, it absolves the client of any potential liability, provided the client has their own property and liability insurance in place.
Pet sitting is a dream job for people who love pets, however, pet sitters should understand that they are not free of potential problems with liability when the pets they are watching attack a person or another pet. Pet sitters need to do everything they can to offset liability and protect themselves.
Perry Liss,Esq is the founder of The Philadelphia Law Firm which is a full-service general practice law firming serving all of Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey.