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Finding Your Neighborhood Pet Sitter

Here's a local guide to reliable pet sitters. Add your own in the comments!

Finding a loyal and trustworthy pet sitter is serious business and not always an easy task. We recently talked to a few local sitters of the pet kind to get their insight, along with the services they offer individually.

Heather Long of Shadyside is co-owner of Au Purr, a pet sitting service that originated with owner, . Au Purr offers special services with pets who have behavior specific or medical needs.

“We do in-home pet care for clients when they’re out of town and also do regular daily visits for when people are at work with standard walks or potty breaks,” Long said “We work with special needs dogs for those who have dog aggression and incorporate them into the group we take out.”

Au Purr serves clients in Churchill, Regent Square, Highland Park, Fox Chapel, Polish Hill and the Strip, along with a range of other neighborhoods. With the group of dogs Long takes out together, it has proven to be a successful method to socializing dogs who are not happy to see others on walks and other situations.

“One dog in particular was very dog aggressive and the sweetest dog with people and I worked with him little by little,” Long said. “In the beginning, he could not even see another dog without flipping in a dangerous way. Now, he walks with my dog and rides in the car with her.”

Au Purr also caters to dogs with medical needs, whether they are dealing with an illness or end of life care.

“We are trained for medicine, breathing treatments and things like that,” Long said. “We also do referrals for end of life care and it gives people peace of mind if they need to go out of town and they’re pet has special medical needs. They’re in good hands.”

Long loves working with animals and also enjoys the bond created with the humans she works with as well.

For more, visit www.aupurr.net or call 412-337-1006.

of Regent Square has three dogs of her own and started pet sitting as a contractor through Fetch Pet Care Pittsburgh about six months ago.

“I do pretty much anything that is needed,” she said. “I do a lot of group dog walks and individual dog walks. I take them to the dog park and I also do overnight visits as well. I just hang out and chill with the dogs.”

An in-home overnight stay is $70 a night with a discount for three overnights or more.  A visit during the day starts at $15.30 for a 30-minute dog walk. Cats also are an option for Stephan’s services. For each home, it’s $4 for each additional dog.

“I have been volunteering at the for a couple years. It’s cool to spend time with the animals because they have such different personalities,” she said. “Observing their behavior and seeing how they interact is just fascinating. I just love animals in general so I win more than they probably do.”

Stephan serves clients across the East End, including Regent Square, Squirrel Hill and Shadyside. Animals also can stay at her home as well.

For more, call 323-842-3462.

Melissa Hall of Morningside, who also works at Animal Nature in Regent Square, has her own pet sitting business. She has clients across the East End and also travels to Aspinwall and Fox Chapel.

She has been pet sitting professionally for about four years, but grew up surrounded by animals and took care of other people’s pets throughout her life.

“I have a lot of experience with special needs animals, working with animals that have behavioral issues,” she said. “Rabbits can get sick very easily and it’s in the nature of the rabbit to hide that it’s sick and lot of people can’t recognize that.”

Hall offers overnight stays, daily dog walks and is willing to take any special requests.

“I enjoy pretty much everything,” she said of the job. “I have always loved animals. I love getting to know them. It’s especially fun when they go away for a week and I get to really get to know the animal.”

Hall said a daily dog walk costs $16, with a $1 discount for adopted dogs, which includes a half an hour visit.

“Everything is very personalized,” she said.

For more, email melissahall7@gmail.com.

Do you have a great pet sitter? Share their name and your story in the comments section!

Nina Wolf February 23, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Great topic, Patch! It IS so hard to choose a pet sitter, not only because they will be in your home caring for your family member, but because there is no licensing or certification required. Many folks think it will be a fine side job and take it up as more of a hobby. Truly professional sitters are very knowledgeable, with CPR and First Aid certifications, solid plans in case of emergencies, veterinary references, and usually a lot of work (volunteer or paid) with shelters, clinics, and rescue groups in their backgrounds. Professional sitters are detail-oriented, and should ask you a million questions before taking on care of your animal...even things they will probably never need to know. A great daily walker will know when and what your dog eats - if there is an emergency and this sitter has to take your animal to the hospital, when the dog last ate can be critical info. Does your animal caretaker require vet info, and a medical release? Did they ask your animal's favorite hiding places, sleeping spots, etc? Did they ask about any history of illnesses, even if they are just stopping by once a week to provide a 30 minute walk? Does your caretaker run their hands over your animal and report any new bumps, lumps, scratches, etc? Do they find ticks after walks? Do they notice things about your dog or cat or rabbit's health or behavior sometimes before you do? If not, you don't have the right sitter! GREAT sitters are out there. Don't settle for less!
Melissa Hall February 23, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Thanks for the great article! To clarify, the $1 discount is for any animal- dog, cat, rabbit, etc... adopted from a shelter or rescue.
Sue T February 23, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I've been using Merrill Marcovsky of Edgewood and her assistant Sharon for about 18 years now. They are reliable and loving caregivers. They have taken my dogs for walks alone, and in groups as well as caring for them when I'm at work and out of town. I also use one of the neighborhood boys for routine walks, and his parents are always there for backup if something happens. For example, last August, Jasper was attacked by a dog that jumped out of a car window. David called me, the police and his dad. His father made it to the scene before i did!
Stephanie Rex February 23, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Thanks Sue!
Anne February 24, 2012 at 01:32 AM
I've been using Merrill Marcovsky, also, and she is great. Merrill is very reliable, caring, and reasonably priced.
JustMe April 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Can someone provide Merrill and Sharon's contact information? Thank you!

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