Over the past few months, we’ve had two scary occurrences happen to Pet Nanny Coach community members. The first incident was with one of our coaches, our head coach, Jessica. She had to fill in to do a visit. Her sitter became ill, so she went to walk an Akita. It was a brand new client, and the Akita ended up attacking her.
Thankfully, she knew exactly what to do and was able to get out of the house, but not without injury. She had to get taken away in an ambulance. She had to have surgery. She has nerve damage. She’s had to go through litigation, and it has been a really eye-opening and scary experience for her, but also eye-opening for the rest of us.
I’ve had my business for 22 years, and nothing of the sort has ever happened. Knock on wood, but it really had us thinking about what we have in place to protect ourselves, our team, and our businesses from this.
The second occurrence is that one of my students has a big business in Georgia. One of her sitters slipped in the client’s garage and shattered her kneecap into three parts. Super, super major injury, which has caused all types of problems with the sitter and her worker’s comp insurance, is a total nightmare.
So we decided to come together in the Multiply Mastermind, sit down, and have a round table discussion. We created a list of what we can do and what we can put in place so that we can protect ourselves, our businesses, and our team from anything like this happening to anybody else.
Know your laws
Preparing as a business owner, you need to know the laws in your state regarding dog bites. You need to know your county laws regarding dog bites, you need to know all the city ordinances in the towns that you service, you need to know the different bite levels, you need to know all the other laws in your state regarding pets, and you need to know what workers’ comp will require from you and the employee in the case of an incident like this.
Create a Risk Management System in Your Pet Sitting Business
So I have an online business hub where I have my business completely organized. This is what I teach my students in my mastermind, and one of the things is having a sitter incident report folder. So if anything happens like this, we will document, document, document.
I want the sitter to video anything that happens. I want them to take pictures. I will put all of that into the file along with any doctor’s reports, anything the client had to say when we interviewed them, and such. If you are organized right from the get-go and have all of this information documented, you will be ahead of the game.
You need to be your staff member’s biggest advocate if a situation like this ever arises.
Dig down with your client and make sure the pet is not aggressive.
When you go out, have meet-and-greets, and have registration meetings, it’s so important that you try to dig down with your client and make sure that this pet or dog is not aggressive.
So ask, “Has your pet ever bitten anybody? Has your pet ever bitten or gotten into a scuffle with another dog or animal? Has your dog or cat ever shown aggression towards anybody or any animal?”
Ask about resource guarding, but in a way, a client will understand. That’s a term we use in the industry, but explaining, “Is there anything that triggers your dog: food, treats, if the toy gets taken away?” Anything that you can drill down to find out if this dog has aggressive behavior.
Another good question, “Is your dog a talker or a growler?” because there is a difference, and here’s the deal. So at Pet Nanny, Pet Sitters of The Main Line, we don’t take any pets with aggression issues. In my opinion, countless animals need our care and will not cause any issues with my sitter, sitters, or my business.
So I want to drill down, ask these questions, and if we even have a whiff that this dog has any aggression, we’re not taking them on as a client. To me, the liability is not worth it. My sitter’s safety is more important to me than the revenue that would be generated from that client.
Put together a risk management training for your sitters.
In your training for your employees, I highly suggest that you put together a risk management training where you will go through all of this, and explain to them about liability, and explain to them what we’re looking for in terms of liability. It’s not just an aggressive animal. It could be a messy garage, which was the case with my other student’s sitter, who fell and smashed her kneecap.
There wasn’t a clear path to get to the house through the garage, and the sitter got hurt. That is an issue, and that is what your sitter needs to be looking out for, not having lights on the outside and not having walkways cleared for you to get into the house. All these things you need to have in your risk management system when onboarding your new employee so that they are trained and well-versed in risk management. So when they meet with your clients, they know what to ask. They know what to look for.
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