StudentCo Pet Sitter Guidelines

This page contains important information – it is expected that you know, understand and apply its contents fully and that you regularly revise the content here. This document explains and expands upon the formal, legal agreement you have agreed to upon successful completion of your application.


Getting a new client

As a StudentCo pet sitter, your services are marketed to a wide audience of pet parents.

Opportunities exist across the board – from daily visits with pampered kitties to staying with big families of Great Danes.

We create a profile for every pet sitter – this profile showcases details about you and is available for pet parents looking at our website. People can look at these profiles and either request a specific sitter they like, or simply complete a general enquiry without choosing a particular sitter.

Specific sitter requested by name

If you have been requested by name, StudentCo will contact you with the basic details – suburb, dates, service type, pets, etc. If you are available and interested, please respond before the given deadline.

If you are requested by name but already booked with another family, it will obviously be pointless to inform you of this and the opportunity will be dealt with as below.

No specific sitter requested

All StudentCo pet sitters have access to a 24/7 webpage on which available opportunities are listed - you are free to access this at any time, and respond to any opportunities you are interested in. Furthermore, all team members are added to a database that receives regular email updates listing new opportunities, as well as info about which pet sitters have been recommended to families since the previous update. These emails are sent daily (Mondays - Fridays; excl. public holidays).

If you are interested in an opportunity, simply follow the prompts to respond – remember the code, and complete a quick form.

General notes

We aim to match you with families who live within a 10km radius of your home. That said, please do feel free to apply to homes that are further from you - if no-one closer is available, you can still be recommended. Do keep in mind that the maximum amount you can get extra for petrol is R399 per booking.

If we receive an enquiry from an existing client who already knows and prefers to work with a particular sitter, this person will be contacted first to find out if he/she is available for the required time. If not, other sitters the family has worked with before will be contacted. Should none of them be available, the opportunity is sent out to everyone as described above. Note that you will NOT be contacted if you already have a clashing booking – there is no point asking you if you can again stay at the Vd Merwe home when you are already staying at the Vosloo home on clashing dates.

Note that the emails are sent via a group email program and may end up in Junkmail or somewhere like the Gmail “promotions” folder – just keep a look out.

Kindly be aware that being part of StudentCo does not mean that you are guaranteed work opportunities or that you will necessarily start working shortly after your application has been completed. That said, we do keep track of pet sitters who respond regularly and enthusiastically and will give you preference over sitters who do not respond regularly (provided of course that you live close to a family and are a suitable choice), so please keep responding even when you don't get selected for opportunities at first.

The following criteria are considered when choosing pet sitters

  • To keep fuel costs low for pet parents, pet sitters who live in the same or a nearby suburb are given preference over pet sitters who live far. HOWEVER! If you don't mind the drive, please do respond even to homes far from yours - there may not be anyone close available and then you will be selected. Also, if you perhaps have more than one address (e.g. Res and home commune and home mom's home and dad's home), send Angie an email (angelique@studentco.co.za) so we can update your file. This way, you can more easily work in more than one area.
  • Enthusiasm is rewarded! Those of you who respond to opportunities regularly are given preference over those that do not.
  • Charity work is rewarded! Those of you involved with volunteer work are given preference over those who are not. To read more about this, have a look here .
  • Good work is rewarded! Those of you who consistently get good client reviews are given preference over those of you who do not.
  • Those of you who score above 85% in the optional monthly pet sitter quiz are also at an advantage
  • Notes about the opportunity webpage/s

    If an opportunity is listed, it is still available and you are welcome to respond! Please do not respond to the same opportunity more than once in 24 hours. If, after 24 hours (Mondays - Fridays), the opportunity you responded to is still listed here, alert Caro (caro@studentco.co.za) to look into the matter. NB – if you live very far away from the family, we are waiting to see if someone closer responds. Do not alert Caro.

    Opportunities throughout Gauteng are listed alphabetically, based on the suburb of the family. To easily look for certain suburbs/opportunities, simpy use CTRL + F on your computer.

    You will be kept updated about new opportunities as well as who was recommended to families in the team newsletter (usually sent twice a week).

    Note that the webpage is updated roughly on a daily basis - you need NOT wait for the team newsletter to be informed about opportunities please visit the webpage whenever you like.

    You may respond to as many stay-over opportunities you like, even if their dates clash. Please do not, however, respond to any stay-over opportunities that clash with your confirmed stay-over bookings, or with dates of stay-over families you are scheduled to meet.

    Provided you have enough time to spend with multiple families, please feel free to respond to multiple visit families, even if you already have other bookings (including stay-overs) over the required dates. Thus: You are welcome to do stay-overs and visits simultaneously (stay at home A visit homes B and C).

    New team members: Please be aware that it may take several weeks for you to be recommended to your first family - the best way to be recommended is to keep responding .

    Shared bookings - Festive Season

    Though we would always prefer to match families with one sitter, an alternative is to book them with two StudentCo members - one of you doing the first bit and the other doing the second bit. If you will be around during Dec/Jan but do not see any opportunities that fully fit into your available dates, please click here .

    We can then have a look if your dates fit in well with someone else's, and let you know about sharing a booking. For example: If you are available between 16 and 25 December and another sitter is available between 25 December and 2 January, the two of you can share a booking for 16 December - 2 January.

    The meet-and-greet

    If you are the closest, most suitable person who replied to an opportunity, we will arrange for you to meet the family.

    The meet-and-greet is an informal meeting at the client’s home – it is an opportunity to meet the human and animal members of the family and see how you get along. Think of it as an informal interview of sorts.

    This meeting is as much for you as it is for the client – it is an opportunity for both parties to assess whether they would feel safe and comfortable with the proposed pet sitting arrangement, and gives you a chance to chat to your client about what would be expected of you.

    We recommend that you always take a friend with to your meet-and-greets. This is just a precaution for safety purposes - as they say, there is safety in numbers.

    The meet-and-greet is always arranged as soon as possible after an enquiry was received - usually within 7 days, even if the enquiry relates to dates far in the future.

    Meet and greet details are sent to you via Whatsapp. The admin team member working with this, is Angelique (082 607 2481).

    Clients also receive a message from us but it DOES happen that people sometimes do not see this message. To prevent an awkward situation where you arrive at a home and are told "they had no idea you were coming", please always send a quick Whatsapp to new families, introducing yourself and confirming the meeting. Example: Hello Mary, this is Elsabe, your pet sitter :). I look forward to meeting you and your furkids on (date, time). Please have a look at your emails for a message from StudentCo with all the details. See you soon!

    Should a family contact you to cancel or change arrangements, please do keep us posted - simply send a Whatsapp to Angelique. Clients may of course make changes, but YOU MAY NOT CHANGE MEET-AND-GREET ARRANGEMENTS - the meeting will always be arranged at a time YOU indicated to be a good time for you. DO NOT CHANGE IT - it creates a terrible first impression.

    Before your meet-and-greet, you will be sent your client's completed Pet print Parent Instruction sheet (if clients have sent it; please see below). It is expected that you always take a copy so you can discuss everything your client has noted on their instructions. You can print it, or else just view it on your phone - whichever you prefer.

    The Pet Parent Instruction Sheet

    We have two types of Pet Parent Instruction Sheets:

  • Pet Parent Instruction Sheet for visiting sitters.
  • Pet Parent Instruction Sheet for stay-over sitters.
  • Your client is asked to complete this before your meet-and-greet and you will be sent a PDF of it (either via email or Whatsapp).

    If you can easily read it on your phone/tablet, no need to print. Otherwise, please print the Pet Parent Instruction Sheet to take along to your meet-and-greet - going through this document step-by-step is the best way to make sure you know exactly what would be expected of you.

    Important Note: It sometimes happens that clients do NOT complete an online Pet Parent Instruction sheet before meet-and-greets. In cases like these, simply refer to your meet-and-greet Whatsapp. After some introductions and small talk, click on the link for the instruction sheet. You and the family can fill in the online form during the meeting, and we will send you the PDF copy the next day (Mondays - Fridays) :). If it is a last-minute booking and you need the document sooner, simply alert Angie (082 607 2481) and she will send it to you chop-chop.

    The Pet Parent Instruction Sheet allows you to easily chat about the following important topics:

  • Exactly what the client expects and what their house rules are.
  • Any special needs the pets may have.
  • Whether or not you are required to take dogs for walks.
  • Pets’ feeding times, sleeping arrangements, etc.
  • Which items of household food you may consume (this applies only to stay-over assignments).
  • Whether you are allowed to invite friends over, and if so in what manner you may entertain (this applies only to stay-over assignments).
  • Whether you are allowed to have a friend accompany you on the entire assignment, staying over with you. (This applies only to stay-over assignments).
  • Emergency contact details.
  • Keeping the information safe

    It is your responsibility to keep Pet Parents' information - as contained in the instruction sheet and all other communications - safe, and out of reach of anyone else.

    To do this, please ensure that your phone/tablet/computer is password-protected, and keep hard copies in a safe place.

    What happens after the meet-and-greet? How do I know if my booking is confirmed?

    As you know, the meet-and-greet is your chance to assess whether or not you feel comfortable at a home and want to proceed with the assignment.

    What happens after the meet-and-greet: Pet sitters

    After meeting a new client, please let us know what you have decided:

  • Yes – you are happy and would like to proceed
  • No – you would prefer not to work with the family.
  • Please get in touch with us as soon as possible after your meet-and-greet – send a Whatsapp to Angelique (082 607 2481) as soon as your meeting is over.

    We will never force you to work with families at whose homes you felt unsafe or uncomfortable. If you would prefer to rather not work with a family, please give us an honest reason rather than an excuse. This will help us decide if we should send someone else to meet the family, or rather refer them elsewhere.

    Remember: Always be polite and courteous to clients, even if during the meet-and-greet you realise that you would prefer not to work with them.

    Important note: Contractually, you commit yourself to completing all assignments you accept at the meet-and-greet stage. Thus, assuming your clients wish to proceed, you are committed to an assignment at this point and may not “back out”, no matter how far in advance the dates may be. Always be 100% sure that you are indeed available for an assignment before responding to an opportunity.

    What happens after the meet-and-greet: Pet Parents (clients)

    If - at the end of a meet-and-greet where everyone got along well - your client asks you what happens next, please tell them that StudentCo will get in touch within 2 work days with an invoice for service.

    If so, a payment must be deposited within 7 days to confirm the booking: Payment: A 50% deposit for bookings further than 30 days away OR payment in full for bookings closer than 30 days away. This payment may NOT be paid to you in cash - it has to be paid into the StudentCo account. Bank details are clearly visible on all invoices.

    As soon as payment has been received and processed, StudentCo will send confirmation of the booking to both you and the pet parent. In most cases, this will be within about 10 days after you met the family, but be aware that some people take MUCH longer to pay.

    NB: As a general rule, you can proceed with service at any homes where the meet and greet went well, even if you did not receive a formal booking confirmation yet.

    This is often the case where people book your services at the last minute - their payment will be a bit late but you can proceed.
    If you are unsure, contact Angelique to ask her.

    Note about late payments:

    It sometimes happens that clients pay late - after the booking has already been completed. In cases like these - rather than receive a formal booking confirmation BEFORE the booking - you will simply be BCC'd in the receipt email sent to client. This is just for your information. Even when clients are MONTHS late with their payments, YOUR PAYMENT FROM STUDENTCO IS GUARANTEED TO BE PAID TO YOU ON TIME, AND IN FULL :).

    You likely would have already received the money for this family long ago - again, this type of email is simply for your information.

    Keys - getting them and handing them back
    Collecting keys before your client departs

    Your client will contact you directly to arrange for a time to fetch keys, access cards, etc. before your booking starts. This will usually be a day or two before they depart.

    If you have not heard from them, please get in touch with them. Alert Angelique if you have any problems.

    We recommend that you always take a friend with when collecting keys. This is just a precaution for safety purposes - as they say, there is safety in numbers.

    Giving keys back after your client returns

    Chat to your client to find out what time they will be home - if you can be at the house to meet them, great! If not, arrange for a suitable time to take their keys back within a day or 2 of their return.

    We recommend that you always take a friend with when dropping off keys. This is just a precaution for safety purposes - as they say, there is safety in numbers.

    How long am I supposed to spend at homes every day?

    We offer three different services:

  • Once-a-day visits
  • Twice-a-day visits
  • Stay-overs
  • Please also refer to the section “My duties: Keeping in touch with clients and with StudentCo”

    Once-a-day visits are typically booked for pets who are not very “high maintenance” – the family simply needs someone to check up on and take care of the pets and home once a day. Please stick to the time that they request you to visit.

    You are expected to visit roughly one hour per day.

    Twice-a-day visits are similarly for lower maintenance pets, and is usually booked by families who have special sleeping arrangements for their animals. You will typically be asked to go during the early morning and again in the late afternoon, and typically be expected to make sure pets are in specified areas during night and day time respectively.

    You are expected to visit roughly one hour each time you see the pets (2 hours per day).

    The stay-over service is typically booked by families whose pets are used to – and need – a lot of interaction with people.

    For stay-over pet sitting, you are not expected to be at the house 24 hours a day, but the idea is that you “make yourself at home”. Thus – spend the time that you would have spent at home – studying, relaxing, etc. – at the client’s home, coming and going during the day.

    Generally, you are expected to be at homes a minimum of evenings (arriving no later than 19:00*) and early mornings, sleeping over at night. You may come and go during the day. You may also stay the whole day, if you like.

    The general rule is: Spend as much time with the pets as you can, and make yourself at home!

    NB: Some families may have specifically requested that you be home most of the time; some pets can only be left alone for short periods; some need food/meds at very particular times. With stay-overs, it depends on the individual family. At the meet-and-greet, make sure you know what the family’s expectations are. If you are not happy with it, we ask that you rather let us know so we can assign someone else – do not accept a booking if your schedule does not allow the required time.

    At a minimum, you are expected to be present during evenings and early mornings, and sleep over each night. NB! You are expected to arrive no later than 19:00 each night. Though you may come and go during the day, YOU MAY NOT GO OUT AT NIGHT WHEN STAYING OVER. YOU ARE EXPECTED TO BE PRESENT AT HOMES FROM 19:00 until the next morning.*.

    You are also always expected to take care of specific day-time duties, if requested. An example would be opening up for the gardener.

    * StudentCo and most families are not unreasonable - if you are, for example, writing an evening semester test this is obviously in order. Please just notify Angelique at StudentCo (Whatsapp 082 607 2481) of anything like this as soon as you become aware of it. She will inform your clients and assure them that you will, for example, make sure the pet children all have dinner before you write your test. Always inform Angelique at StudentCo of any commitments like this that may interfere slightly with stay-overs - in 99% of cases, clients will not be unreasonable and we can make arrangements to benefit everyone. That said, some people are VERY precise about time spent at homes, feeding times, etc. and here you may run into a problem. Again - always let StudentCo know FIRST so we can talk to clients and make a plan.

    Special note: New Year’s Eve is no exception. As many people disregard the law and use fireworks, you are expected to spend the entire evening and night at the stay-over home, as usual. Feel free to entertain a couple of guests within the general StudentCo rules and your specific client’s rules. Exposing pets to the noise and danger of fireworks can lead to injuries and pets running away to try and escape the noise – it is thus imperative that you keep pets calm and supervised at all times.

    Important note : When you accept a pet sitting booking, you MUST spend time as described above at homes. You are expected to send your location to your client whenever you arrive and leave homes - please see "My duties: Keeping in touch with clients and with StudentCo" below.

    Also: remember that we live in a very connected world and your comings and goings can easily be verified in a variety of ways, including:

  • Alarm records can easily be obtained from security companies. These show the exact times at which you activated and deactivated the alarm, coming and going.
  • Clients' neighbours and nearby friends will see you come and go
  • A StudentCo representative can be sent to check on you

    Remember: Pet sitting is a serious commitment and you are being paid to be at clients' homes. We take this duty VERY seriously and you will summarily be removed from the team should any irregularities occur in this regard. Your client will also be refunded in full and you will not receive payment - it is expected that you take your duties seriously.

  • My duties: Keeping in touch with clients

    A duty deserving special mention is your duty to communicate properly. Good communication is so easy – and provides immense peace of mind.

    Daily communication with clients

    Proper communication with clients consists of three parts:

  • Client calls and texts
  • Detailed daily updates and pictures
  • Sending locations when you come and go
  • All are equally important.

    UPDATE: From 15 November 2018, our Pet Parent Instruction sheet allows pet parents to CHOOSE whether they do want locations pins or not. You need NOT send location pins to clients who do not want to receive them. If your pet parent instruction sheet does not contain this section, it was completed before 15 November 2018. For these pet parents, please assume that they DO WANT location pins, unless they specifically told you that they do not.

    CALLS AND TEXTS

    Always answer or return all client calls and messages as soon as you can. It is expected that your phone is charged and nearby while you are responsible for someone's home and pets.

    DAILY UPDATES AND PICTURES

    It is expected that you send clients a daily Whatsapp update to let them know that all is in order, and to inform them of any “news”. Always include a picture or two of their pets. .

    Please note that these updates have to be sent each and every day.

    Be friendly, polite – and add a smiley face or two. These always make messages extra friendly.

    Example: You are looking after Sparky the Labrador and Cuddles the cat.

    Update example - daily visits: “Good morning, Mary! I just finished my visit with Sparky and Cuddles and all is well. We spent about 20 minutes playing fetch and as usual Sparky enjoyed the game. Cuddles was happy to see me and purred on my lap as I read a novel on the stoep.”

    Update example - twice-a-day visits: “Good afternoon, Mary! I just finished my 2nd visit with Sparky and Cuddles today and all is well. I took Sparky for a walk around the block this morning but didn’t see Cuddles. This afternoon, Sparky and I spent about 20 minutes playing fetch. Cuddles also made an appearance and was happy to see me.”

    Update example - stay-overs: “Hi Mary! Hope you’re still enjoying the Cape! Just today’s update: Cuddles spent a lot of time sleeping in the sun, and is his usual affectionate self. He is eating well and especially enjoying the chicken. All is fine with the house. The gardener came today and the lawn has been mowed back into shape. I spent most of the day studying and Sparky kept me company. We also went for our usual walk this morning.”

    LOCATIONS

    Every time you arrive at or leave your client’s home, you are expected to send them a Whatsapp location, informing them of this fact. As such, your locations are always sent from the client's home - they "bookmark" your time as you come and go. Obviously, you need not inform them of exactly where you go when you are not there.

    Please also refer to the section called “How long am I supposed to spend at homes every day?”

    To send locations:

  • Open your chat on Whatsapp.
  • Go to the paperclip icon.
  • Select "Location"
  • Select "send your current location"
  • Below this, please just write a quick message:

    Leaving example: Hello Mary! I am leaving now to go visit my grandmother. Will be back later 😊.

    Arrival example: Hello Mary! I just got back. Doggies very excited to see me 😊.

    NB! Clients value good communication very highly! Do not forget to send your locations! The reason for this is to record the time you spend with pets - please be diligent! Not being up to date with your locations creates a very poor impression - it makes it look like you are not doing your job!.

    VISITS

    You are expected to spend one hour per visit. Send the first location share just as you arrive and the second one just as you leave the home. The messages should be about an hour apart. If you are visiting twice a day, please do this twice a day (every visit should be roughly 1 hour long).

    STAY-OVERS

    Generally, you are expected to be at homes a minimum of evenings (arriving no later than 19:00*) and early mornings, sleeping over at night. You may come and go during the day. You may also stay the whole day, if you like.

    The general rule is: Spend as much time with the pets as you can, and make yourself at home!

    NB: Some families may have specifically requested that you be home most of the time; some pets can only be left alone for short periods; some need food/meds at very particular times. With stay-overs, it depends on the individual family. At the meet-and-greet, make sure you know what the family’s expectations are. If you are not happy with it, we ask that you rather let us know so we can assign someone else – do not accept a booking if your schedule does not allow the required time.

    Send your client a location share every time you ARRIVE at the home and every time you LEAVE the home. When you are home for the evening, please do just tell them this.

    GENERAL NOTE

    If your clients are not receiving proper communication from you, they can alert us at any time. Client reviews also ask clients about your communication. Remember – your payment and membership may be affected if you are not fulfilling your duties properly.

  • My duties: Pets

    The first and most important rule of pet sitting is to always follow the family’s own rules, as recorded on Pet Parent Instruction sheets.

    For all services, your duties include:

  • Feeding pets according to the client’s specifications.
  • Ensuring the presence of clean water.
  • Grooming pets according to the client’s specifications (only if requested).
  • Taking dogs for a daily walk. (only if requested)
  • Cleaning litter boxes.
  • Cleaning cages / tanks according to the client’s specifications.
  • Completing any additional pet-care duties as required by the individual client.
  • Completing any household chores required by the client. This may include but is not limited to pool maintenance, post collection, switching on lights and watering the garden.
  • Giving lots of love, attention and playtime, of course!
  • You will likely find that the above chores do not take that much time. When you are done with your duties, simply spend some “down time” with the pets – cats love nothing better than sitting on your lap while you read a novel, watch a movie or do some studying. Similarly, dogs love being social and much love having a human friend relax with them, rubbing their tummies while you read, study or have a cup of tea.

    Remember – sitters visiting homes are expected to spend roughly one hour per visit (one hour for once-a-day visits; two hours for twice-a-day visits).

    My duties: Respecting the property and cleaning up

    The first and most important rule of pet sitting is to always closely follow the family’s own rules, as recorded on Pet Parent Instruction sheets.

    Taking care of someone else’s home is a serious responsibility. It is expected that you treat homes with the utmost respect. This means:

  • Never smoking indoors.
  • Only consuming food left for your use.
  • Never hosting parties of any kind on the property of the client.
  • Maintaining the client’s home at the same level of neatness and cleanliness at which the client presented it.
  • Respecting each client’s specific and particular requests and rules
  • Never ingesting or allowing for guests to ingest any mind-altering substances, including alcohol, while pet sitting.
  • Using internet responsibly - only for browsing and not for large downloads/streaming (unless given clear permission). NEVER visit any illegal sites, e.g. torrents).

    It is your responsibility to take care of clients' homes as per their specific instructions, and to leave homes as you found them. Respect their property and clean up.

    Stay-over sitters

    It is very important that homes are respected and kept clean. It is not expected that you do a full spring-clean every day, but the following is essential:

  • Always wash dishes and clean counters after cooking.
  • Do not move things around – a house may seem cluttered to you, but it’s not your home to rearrange.
  • Never leave dirty towels, linen or clothes lying around.
  • Tidy up and clean the areas you use
  • Clean litter boxes, tanks and cages on a very regular basis.
  • Make sure the bath and toilet are clean.
  • Make up the bed.
  • Remember to take out the garbage.
  • Please clean up after pets should they have an “accident” in the house. If no gardener is coming by, please also clean up outside.
  • Sweep and mop dirty floors and vacuum carpets at least once a week and on your last morning at the house.
  • (Bonus: If you want brownie points, wash your linen before you leave and put clean sheets on the bed).
  • You are not expected to mow the lawn, but may be asked to water the garden.

    Beware! People often send neighbours or friends to check up on sitters – don’t be caught with a pig sty! If you simply clean up as you go, cleaning is quick and easy and homes will never look messy.

    NB: Even if the client has arranged for a domestic worker, make sure that she can’t report back to them about your untidy habits. Being dirty is a sure way never to be rehired, and for clients to give us negative feedback about you. The domestic worker can take care of the “heavy tasks” like window washing and wood polishing, but the pointers above always have to be adhered to – she is NOT THERE to clean up your mess! Please be sure to treat the domestic worker with due respect. Not doing this is a sure way of getting a terrible review as pet parents will most certainly ask her about you!

    Remember: Keep the home clean and respectable and give it back in the same (or better!) condition you found it on your first day.

    Visiting sitters

    If you are visiting a home rather than staying over, please just ensure that you regularly clean tanks, cages, litter boxes and any “accidents” the animals may have had indoors. This includes the toilet variety as well as, for example, dead birds brought in by cats. If no gardener is coming by, please also “clean up” the grass.

    If you accidentally spill/mess something, please clean up. Should you use the kitchen or bathroom, please clean up.

    Beware! People often send neighbours or friends to check up on sitters – don’t be caught with a pig sty! If you simply clean up as you go, cleaning is quick and easy and homes will never look messy.

    Always present the home back to your clients in the same (or better!) condition than you found it on the first day of your assignment.

    You are not expected to mow the lawn, but may be asked to water the garden.

    NB: Even if the client has arranged for a domestic worker, make sure that she can’t report back to them about your untidy habits. Being dirty is a sure way never to be rehired, and for clients to give us negative feedback about you. The domestic worker can take care of the “heavy tasks” like window washing and wood polishing, but the pointers above always have to be adhered to – she is NOT THERE to clean up your mess! Please be sure to treat the domestic worker with due respect. Not doing this is a sure way of getting a terrible review as pet parents will most certainly ask her about you!

    Food

    How much household food you get to consume during your stay-over assignment depends entirely on the client.

    There are 3 possibilities:

  • Full access to all foodstuffs in the kitchen – you are allowed to help yourself to anything and everything in the kitchen. Please don’t be a glutton, though. The food is intended for your own use and is not provided for friends. Please do not be wasteful with the food clients provide. Also do be aware that very few families provide you with a full grocery cupboard - even if you are allowed full access to the kitchen, there might not be much there. Always be aware that you will probably be having most meals at home.

  • Limited access to foodstuffs in the kitchen – you are allowed to use some food, but are asked to leave other foods alone. Please respect this.
  • No access. You are expected to provide your own food or have meals at home.

  • As most homes will be within a 10km radius of your own home, it will be easy for you to head home for meals if you prefer to not cook at the client’s home. For homes further than 10km from your own home, you will always be paid for fuel, so you can still go home for big meals (see the "Payment" tab for more details). Remember that the maximum petrol amount is capped at R300 per booking. If you are staying at a home that is rather inconveniently far from your own, we recommend that you plan ahead and take along some frozen meals.

    Even if you have been given full access to everything in the kitchen, always leave “gift-like” items like expensive chocolates alone

    .

    Sitters doing once and twice-a-day visits do not get access to household food, but most clients don’t mind you helping yourself to a quick cup of tea and some snacks.

    Please remember that neither you nor any guests of yours may consume any mind-altering substances (including alcohol) while you are busy with a pet sitting assignment. In case of an emergency, you have to be able to react in a proper fashion. Drugs and alcohol will prevent you from acting responsibly and are thus not allowed at all. Consuming drugs and alcohol also significantly ups the risk of breakages and damage to client property – this does not “gel” with your duty of treating homes with respect.

    Household facilities, appliances and electronics

    Please refer to each client's Pet Parent Instruction sheet for details regarding which facilities, appliances and electronics you may use.

    As ever, please follow clients' rules closely.

    Stay-over sitters may also be given access to WiFi - again, please refer to Pet Parent Instruction Sheets. Please DO NOT ABUSE the Wifi. If it is not uncapped, use for web browsing only! Please do NOT stream videos / download large files, etc. Check with the family - if the Wifi is uncapped, they usually do not mind you using Netflix and the like. NEVER visit any illegal sites, e.g. for torrents.

    What to pack for a stay-over

    Pack whatever you need to make yourself at home.

    A good suggestion is to pack as if you are going on holiday – a bag with clothes, toiletries, books, etc. to keep you going while you stay at another home for a while. As you know, most homes won't be far from your house, so no need to pack too much - a "weekend bag" should do, but of course this depends on you.

    Please bring your own toiletries.

    Remember to check the client’s food rules to make sure if you need to stock up on your own food and snacks for when you stay over. Remember: Most homes you look after will be within a 10km radius of your own home – it is often easier for you to simply have meals at home

    .

    Bring all your textbooks – spending time studying at the home is a great way to provide the pets with some company

    .

    Clients will provide adequate household items like cleaning materials and toilet paper.

    Visitors

    If you are staying over at a home, you may wish to have some friends visit you.

    This is allowed – within the following limits:

  • Stay-over pet sitters are allowed to have a single person accompany them for the assignment. That is to say, a friend may sleep over at the house with you. This is at the discretion of the client. Please refer to your Pet Parent Instruction sheet to see if your client will be happy with this or not.

  • Stay-over pet sitters are allowed a maximum of two visitors at a time. Again – this is at the discretion of the client. Please have a look at the Pet Parent Instruction sheet.
  • Make sure you discuss house rules for entertaining at your meet-and-greet.

    You may never, ever, not in a million years EVER have a party at the client’s house, but find out if you’d be allowed to use facilities like the braai or have a couple of friends over to have dinner or study together.

    No parties means:

  • No loud music/noise
  • No drinking
  • No use of drugs
  • No late-night outdoor entertaining (a good “cut-off time” is 22:00)
  • Complying with your client’s own rules as well as any estate/complex rules regarding entertainment.
  • Examples of typically acceptable get-togethers include:

  • Dinners
  • Board game evenings
  • Gaming/movie evenings
  • Group study/project sessions
  • Make sure that noise levels are always low, and that pets are always taken care of.

    Neither you nor your visitors may consume any mind-altering substances (including alcohol) while pet sitting.

    Always clean up.

    Remember that your guests are your responsibility and that you may be held liable in case they cause damage. Make sure they know and follow all rules.

    Important Note 1: Children (under 18s) may under NO CIRCUMSTANCES be allowed as visitors of any type during pet sitting. The risk is simply too great – one does not know whether the children know how to behave around animals, and conversely whether the pets are familiar with children.

    Important Note 2: You may never leave visitors unaccompanied at a client's home. You must ALWAYS be present at the home if you have invited guests to a client's home.

    Should you visit homes once or twice a day (rather than stay over), please do this alone.

    Emergencies: Who to contact

    You will be provided with the following contact details on the Pet Parent Instruction Sheet:

  • Your client's cell number/s.
  • The family vet's clinic name and contact number.
  • A nearby friend/neighbour's name and number.
  • The details of various emergency veterinary clinics are available in these guidelines.

    If something goes wrong, first attempt to contact your client. If you can get hold of them, proceed according to their instructions.

    If you can’t get hold of them, contact another provided emergency contact (friend/neighbour) and proceed according to their instructions.

    NB! Should you have an urgent veterinary emergency, take the injured/sick animal to the vet FIRST. You can worry about talking to your client a bit later.

    If you have an after-hours veterinary emergency:

  • First contact the family vet
  • If he/she is unavailable, a 24-hour emergency vet can be contacted (contact details section below).

    Please do keep Angelique at StudentCo updated with any dramas - she will try her best to assist you. Send a Whatsapp or call her at 082 607 2481. Please do note that Angelique is not available 24 hours a day, but she'll get back to you as soon as she sees your message/call. REMEMBER! Contact the pet parent / emergency person and PROCEED AS PER THEIR INSTRUCTIONS.

  • Emergencies: Cash left for emergencies and other expenses

    It is strongly suggested that clients leave a cash deposit of R1000 at the house in case of emergencies or in case of necessary household expenses, like dog food.

    Remember to chat about this emergency fund when you collect keys.

    It goes without saying that this cash may NOT be used for anything else. If the money is used, keep all receipts and change to give back to your client upon their return. If there was no need to use the emergency fund, please give it back to your client in full.

    Should you end up spending some of your own money, same thing. Keep record, and ask them for your money back when they return. This is a cash arrangement. No reimbursements will be added to your weekly payment from StudentCo.

    Emergencies: 24-hour veterinary clinics

    The following vets can be contacted should you not b able to get hold of the family vet during an after-hours emergency:

  • JHB: Parklands Veterinary Clinic 116 Jan Smuts Avenue Corner Wells Avenue Parkwood Tel no: +27117884748 Mobile no: +27832872459
  • Centurion: Bakenkop Veterinary Clinic 1 Caper Avenue Eldoraigne Ext 3 Centurion 0825511966
  • PTA: Valley Farm Animal Hospital 829 Old Farm Road, Faerie Glen, Pretoria 012 991 3573
  • Roodepoort: Northwest Animal After-hours Clinic 31A Kroton Street South Weltevreden Park 011 475 2833
  • FOURWAYS: Fourways Vet Clinic Corner of Witkoppen Road and The Straight Pineslopes Fourways 011 705 3411
  • PLEASE SAVE THE ABOVE DETAILS ON YOUR PHONE RIGHT NOW. CHANCES ARE, YOU WON’T HAVE THESE GUIDELINES WITH YOU WHEN AN EMERGENCY ARISES.

    You are never expected to pay for veterinary bills. If you end up at an emergency vet, chances are your clients will not be on their client database. Vets will likely deal with the emergency first before worrying about admin – if you have not yet had a chance to do so, call your clients to fill them in on the situation. If they left some cash with you, it’s a good idea to put this down as a “first payment” to the emergency vet. Then just give the vet your client’s details so they can chat to them directly about their pet’s prognosis and arrange for payment of services. Please proceed further according to your client’s instructions.

    Emergencies: What if I get ill, injured or have a problem with my car?

      Illness, Injuries, family emergencies, etc.

    Should you become seriously ill, suffer a serious injury or have another emergency (e.g. a death in the family) that prevents you from completing your pet sitting booking, please inform StudentCo as soon as possible. We will do our best to assist you by appointing another team member to take over from you as quickly as possible.

    EMERGENCY HAPPENS BEFORE YOUR BOOKING BEGINS

    StudentCo will make arrangements for another sitter to take over your booking in its entirety.

    Please note that you are required to send proof of your emergency (e.g. a doctor's note) to enquiries@studentco.co.za. If you are unable to provide this, it will unfortunately be assumed that you are being untruthful and you will be removed from the team.

    EMERGENCY HAPPENS DURING YOUR BOOKING

    Contact Angelique on 082 607 2481. Please remember - this is a small business and not a multinational corporation - your message may not be seen immediately. If your message is not answered quickly, know that it will be answered AS SOON AS IT IS SEEN. In the meantime, please contact your client and inform them that:

  • You have had an emergency
  • You have contacted StudentCo. StudentCo will appoint another approved pet sitter to take over from you ASAP. In the meantime, your friend/mother/sister/brother will take care of the home and pets.
  • Until you hear from us, please note that you are STILL RESPONSIBLE for the homes and pets you're looking after. If you are personally unable to complete your duties, it is expected that you appoint a responsible representative to take over from you until you hear from StudentCo.

    Ensure that this person is someone truly reliable – you may be held responsible if your representative makes a mess of things.

    We recommend asking one of your parents to help you out.

    Make sure this person has:

  • A copy of/link to these guidelines to read
  • Your client’s Pet Parent Instruction Sheet
  • Keys, remotes, etc.
  • Make sure that your client and representative have each other’s contact details.

    It is expected that your representative takes over all your duties and continues with the service as booked.

    (Only exception: If you were doing a stay-over and your representative is unable to stay at the client’s home, the service may be amended to twice-a-day visits. Please inform your client of this).

    StudentCo will arrange for another team member to take over as soon as possible! The only need for a representative is so someone is responsible for the homes and pets IN THE MEANTIME UNTIL YOU HEAR FROM STUDENTCO WITH ARRANGEMENTS TO HAND OVER TO ANOTHER APPROVED PET SITTER.

    You are required to send proof of your emergency/illness/injury to admin@studentco.co.za no later than two weeks following the emergency. (e.g. a doctor’s letter).

    NB! You may NOT send someone else to take care of your duties unless you have a genuine, provable emergency.

      Car Problems

    Should you experience car problems and you are able to borrow a car or get a lift to homes you are visiting, this need not interfere with pet sitting. If the problem is of such a nature that you cannot continue with your work, please proceed as described under "Ilness, Injuries, family emergencies, etc." above.

    What if the booking changes or is cancelled?

    You may find that clients sometimes make changes to their holidays when you are already looking after their home and pets. You may be asked to stay an extra night or two, do some extra visits (or perhaps be told that they will be coming home earlier than expected).

    Where this happens, please do inform us (Angelique – 082 607 2481) - if you are able to keep providing the service, we can sort out the payment and adjust your payment accordingly. If you are unable to extend the booking (e.g. you are starting with another stay-over), we can try our best to send another sitter to take over from you or else arrange that you continue with a different type of service (e.g. twice-a-day visits rather than stay-overs).

    If clients cancel bookings, we give them the option to be refunded or to keep the amount paid as credits for their next booking; please note that you will not be paid for cancelled bookings. . If a booking is cancelled, please respond to alternative opportunities.

    If clients return home earlier than expected, they would invariably have paid for extra days of service they did not end up using. In most cases, the extra money is kept on their file as credits for the next booking, with you being paid for the actual services rendered. In some cases, clients will request that you be paid for the additional days, even though they did not need them 😊.

    Emergencies: What if a pet goes missing?

    Though pet parents are responsible for making sure their properties are secure, it could happen that a furkid somehow gets out. If you arrive at a home and find one of the pets are missing:

  • Alert Angelique at StudentCo (082 607 2481). She can then get in touch with the pet parents to inform them of the matter, and assure them that we are doing all we can to find their baby

  • Thoroughly search the property – it may just be that the “missing” pet is in fact just hiding. Try calling their name and luring them with a favourite treat.
  • Ask the neighbours – in our experience, it has happened numerous times that a pet is with a neighbour, and the neighbour not sure whose pet it is.
  • If the house is in a complex/estate, ask security – residents will often take wandering animals to the security office, or at least alert the security office that they have a little visitor at home.
  • Walk around the area – keep your ears and eyes open. Pets may be hiding near dumpsters, in drains, etc.
  • Meanwhile, Angelique will call nearby shelters and vets – had he been wandering the streets, a good Samaritan may have dropped the pet off at the nearest SPCA, vet or other animal welfare. Your number will be given to them to call you in case the furkid makes an appearance later; if someone does have a pet matching the missing furkid's description, Angelique will inform you and you will need to go have a look. Hopefully, the missing furkid has been located and you can bring him home.
  • Keep communicating with Angelique – if all of the above efforts fail, posters will need to be made and put up around the local area. We are happy to pay for your petrol, time and printing of the posters.
  • Also do a good inspection of the property and find where you think the furkid could have escaped from - make sure you block this entrance so further animals do not get out.

    If the "missing" furkid is a cat who is allowed to wander around as he pleases, do not panic if he is not home some days - we are talking about other pets (dogs, indoor cats, etc.) in this section :).

    Payment

    On the day the pet parents return, you will receive a detailed payment document for the booking. Please have a look and alert us should you notice any errors, or if the booking changed to what we had on file. Please note that this document is sent on Mondays if pet parents returned on Saturdays/Sundays. If they returned on a public holiday, it will be sent on the next working day. If you are expecting a payment doc but do not receive one, please check your Junkmail. If there is nothing, please alert Ashley (ashley@studentco.co.za) and she will look into the matter for you 😊. Remember – payment docs may sometimes be sent late at night. Please wait until the next day before you panic 😊.

    Payment is deposited as follows, straight to your bank account:

  • Pet parent returned on Monday: Payment same week Thursday
  • Pet parent returned on Tuesday: Payment same week Friday
  • Pet parent returned on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday: Payment next week Monday
  • Pet parent returned on Saturday or Sunday: Payment next week Wednesday
  • If payment date falls on a public holiday, payment will be deposited the next work day
  • This is to give clients enough time to share their feedback, and allow enough time for possible changes and corrections to be made if needed. It also allows for proper controls and processing. Note that payments used to be done on a monthly basis, then on a weekly basis, and were then updated to the above system in May 2019 for your benefit.

    Your payment invoice will be based on your booking records. Should your clients have changed their booking – say, asking you to stay a day or two longer, do an extra visit or even came home a day earlier than they were supposed to – drop us an email to let us know so we can amend your payment. You can either inform Angie (angelique@studentco.co.za) or reply to your payment email.

    There is no fixed time for payments; payments may never be done later than midnight on your payment date.

    Payments are done via EFT – straight into your bank account. You will be asked to provide your banking details once you receive your first payment invoice - simply send them along to jolanda@studentco.co.za

    Note: We are with FNB – payments to fellow FNB accounts will come through within 12 hours, usually immediately. Payments to other banks take up to 3 work days to move from FNB. This means that there may be a delay of several days before the money appears in your non-FNB account but for most banks the wait-time is around 1 day (so payment will USUALLY come through the next day). Over public holiday times, delays may be longer than usual. Please understand that we have NO CONTROL over the bank processes and cannot control bank delays and speeds. If you would like proof of payment, please do feel free to ask.

    How much do pet sitters get paid?

  • Payment for DAILY VISITS: R89/day
  • Payment for TWICE-A-DAY-VISITS: R170/day
  • Payment for STAY-OVERS: R190/stay-over
  • Petrol is be paid at R3.50/km for distances over 10 km (as calculated on Google maps, between your CLOSEST home suburb as on file with us and the pet parent's suburb), with a maximum per booking of R399
  • The price stays the same no matter how many pets a client has (policy thus unchanged - as ever, it remains your choice which families you respond to)
  • The price stays the same no matter how long a pet sitter has worked with us (policy thus unchanged; as ever, those with excellent track records get preference for opportunities)
  • Remember: Our prices increased on 1 January 2019. This means - new payment rates for sitters will be in effect for all enquiries received from 1 January 2019. All enquiries clients made before 1 January 2019 are paid as per the 2018 policy (no longer reflected in guidelines; please ask Caro if you need this) (NB: even if holiday dates are after 1 January - the change is made for all new enquiries received FROM 1 Jan onwards)

    The above represents big payment increases :). After some research into our competitors, a price increase really was due as we are priced much lower than most others. In order to give you the above increase, the agency fee was barely increased (where your increases work out to around 34%, the agency fee was be increased by only 9%). Just another way we would like to say thank you for your continued loyalty and hard work :) :).

    Client reviews, ratings and feedback

    Clients are asked to review and rate your service when they return – these ratings are based on the following:

  • How presentable you were at the meet-and-greet.
  • How often you kept in touch while your client was away.
  • If pets were happy and well-cared for upon clients’ return.
  • If you presented their home back to them in a clean and respectable state.
  • If you closely followed their specific instructions.

    Clients’ reviews, ratings and feedback are added to your profile and are used as references when we recommend you to new clients. We will send you a copy of all your client reviews.

    Should clients report unsatisfactory service, you will be given fair chance to respond and the matter will be investigated (using the original complaint, your response as well as additional notes from clients following your response) to determine whether or not you have neglected your duties. Should this be the case, StudentCo will assist clients to remedy the matter. Your payment may be delayed, adjusted or withheld and you may be removed from the team.

    In addition: Should you be accused of any criminal behaviour (for example, theft), this is taken very seriously and your client will open a case with the police. Until such time that the South African Police and Court System clear you of the alleged crime, your payment will be delayed and your membership to StudentCo suspended.

    No interest will be paid where payments are delayed due to complaints as described above.

    The best way to get amazing reviews? Follow Pet Parent Instruction Sheets closely, clean up, and send lots of updates with pictures!

    We have often found that people prefer to use the same pet sitter repeatedly, rather than getting to know new people. After your first successful assignment with a new client, you will always be contacted first should they need services in future. It is only where you are unavailable that the opportunity will be sent to the whole team.

  • Regular and referred clients and what happens if clients contact me directly

    Once you know a client and their pets, staying at their home will become like a second home to you. No need for learning new rules and routines – the furkids know you and you know them.

    The surest way of ensuring that your new clients become regular clients is to:

  • Follow their rules to the T.
  • Be a good communicator – send daily updates and always answer their calls and texts.
  • When families we have worked with before contact us, we will always get in touch with sitters they know FIRST. This means the opportunity won't go on the webpage - if you have worked with a family before, you are contacted FIRST and given first choice. Only if you are not available will the opportunity be added to the webpage for the rest of the team to see and apply for. If the family knows several sitters, all sitters will be contacted simulataneously and the first person to respond will get the booking. (If the family specifically requested a certain person, this person is of course given first preference).

    Clients who have used you before may contact you directly to arrange another pet sitting.

    The procedure for letting StudentCo know about a new booking with a client you already know is easy – simply drop us an email at angelique@studentco.co.za or a Whatsapp to 082 607 2481 with the details. As with new clients, we can then make sure that your payment is guaranteed and that you are protected by the agency agreement. We can also update your available times and know when you are available for other clients. Should a client call you and you are not available for the assignment, please let us know what your client needs and we can match them with another sitter.

    If you get a word-of-mouth recommendation and are contacted by someone who knows one of your clients, please send their details to us at angelique@studentco.co.za or Whatsapp 082 607 2481 . We can then get in touch with them and ensure that all the correct procedures are followed.

    Remember: Privately contracting with clients without the involvement of StudentCo leaves you open for removal from the team, as well as legal prosecution. Your contract states that it is mandatory inform StudentCo of all new requests for service from both your regular clients and anyone referred by them. Privately contracting also means that you will not benefit from contractual clauses protecting you in case things go pear-shaped. Furthermore, it will be your own responsibility to get people to pay you – which can be a MASSIVE pain the you-know-what. Stick with us and be guaranteed of your payments.

    You are expected to complete ALL pet sitting bookings through StudentCo. Getting StudentCo to where it is today has taken a DECADE of hard work. Every new family that gets in touch with us today, does so because of the reputation we have built over many, many years, facing many challenges. Today, when you are put in touch with a new family, a behind-the-scenes team of no fewer than seven people PLUS all the pet sitters that came before you, made that happen. It is your ethical and contractual duty to always work through StudentCo - if everyone just went behind our backs, we would no longer exist. Seven people would lose their jobs. There will be no more pet sitting opportunities with new families. And, most importantly, the impact we are having being involved with numerous animal charities would be gone.

    We ask that you conduct yourself honestly and with integrity at all times.

    Other part-time work

    We understand that you may be in need of more than one part-time job. Being a pet sitter with StudentCo does not mean that you may not be involved with other work. You are free to work for whom you please – just remember that your assignments are never to be compromised.

    Kindly do note that we do not allow any agencies or other businesses to use our website for recruitment. Should you realise that a new “client” is, in fact, an agent of some sort, please report this matter to Caro (caro@studentco.co.za).

    Liability and Crime

    You do pet sitting at your own risk – please make sure you feel safe and comfortable at homes during your meet-and-greet, and ensure that your valuables are insured in case something does happen during your stay.

    Also make sure that you have all alarm codes, etc. Remember to discuss this with your client when you collect keys.

    In the event of a crime happening at a home, please make sure that the police are contacted to complete a report. Please contact your clients to inform them of the incident and receive instructions regarding how they would like you to proceed. If your client is unreachable, contact one of your given emergency contacts.

    Also please contact StudentCo - we will do our best to support and assist you.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: StudentCo is NOT available 24 hours a day. There may be a day or two that we are not aware of your problem, but we'll get in touch with you as soon as we do become aware of it.

    Until your clients return, visits are to continue as booked. Should you have been staying over at a home and a crime occurs, you will not be expected to keep staying there. Instead, please visit the home once a day. This possibility is covered in clients' service agreement, but please just inform your client of the changed service when you chat to them.

    Your payment will be adjusted for additional fuel (if applicable) and the changed service.

    Clients may be held liable should their pets cause injury to you or your guests. Clients may be held liable should their pets cause damage to property belonging to you or your guests.

    If you, your guests or representative cause damage to the client’s property as a result of negligence or not following general StudentCo and/or the client’ specific rules, you may be held liable for the damages. You cannot be held liable for genuine accidents or for small, everyday breakages (like a broken mug).

    Again, the golden rule: Always follow your client’s instructions to the letter and always be in touch with them.

    My contract - general notes and benefits

    You will recall agreeing to the StudentCo agreement upon the successful completion of your application. (Some older team members may have agreed to this as part of their application form - those of you who joined before May 2015 or so).

    These guidelines explain and expand upon that agreement. If you are unhappy with any provisions therein, please feel free to send us your questions. Kindly check these guidelines for answers first.

    As a StudentCo team member, you are legally bound to complete all pet sitting work for clients we introduced you to as well as people referred to you by these clients through StudentCo. Privately arranging pet sitting without the involvement of StudentCo violates both the terms and conditions agreed to by clients AND your contract with StudentCo. This is a very serious offense with serious legal consequences.

    Besides, declaring all new assignments to StudentCo benefits you in the following ways:

  • You never have to worry about payment – StudentCo takes the risk of clients defaulting on accounts. You will always get paid for your work.
  • Your calendar is updated to accurately reflect time you have available for more assignments.
  • New assignments are added to your StudentCo profile and your credibility is enhanced – the more experience and client reviews you have, the easier it becomes to recommend you to more families.
  • You are legally protected by a contract clients sign with StudentCo, protecting you against liability should things go pear-shaped.
  • Important note: Contractually, you commit yourself to completing all assignments you accept at the meet-and-greet stage. Thus, assuming your clients wish to proceed, you are committed to an assignment at this point and may not “back out”, no matter how far in advance the dates may be. Always be 100% sure that you are indeed available for an assignment before responding to an opportunity.

    Should you no longer wish to be part of StudentCo, you are required to give one month’s notice. Please email us at angelique@studentco.co.za .

    If you are completing your studies but wish to stay on, you are welcome to! Though new applicants need to be students, we are overjoyed to keep working with existing team members even when they enter the next phase of life :).

    All booked assignments starting within this month have to be completed, even if their end dates fall after your notice month has ended.

    Any assignments only starting after your notice month is over will be reassigned – we will contact your clients.

    Common veterinary emergencies: General notes

    *Also see the 3 tabs labelled "Emergencies" above*

    As a StudentCo pet sitter, it is your duty to take pets to the veterinarian should they require veterinary care.

    Refer to your Pet Parent Instruction Sheet for your client’s vet’s details. Should an emergency occur after hours and the family vet not be available, contact one of the emergency vets listed earlier in these guidelines.

    As a general rule, inform your client (or a given emergency contact) if you notice any change in a pet’s appearance and/or behaviour and find out if they would like you to pay the veterinarian a visit. A normal, healthy pet is bright, alert and responsive - any change in a pet’s appearance or behaviour may require immediate veterinary attention.

    Should you be asked to visit a vet for advice, or should your client give you specific instructions to deal with a problem, follow all advice and instructions carefully.

    Remember: Always keep your client fully updated. Unless a situation is urgent, call your client / their emergency contact first before taking pets to the vet. This is just to find out what they would like you to do. As always, the most important rule of pet sitting is following your client's own rules and instructions. It may not always be necessary to visit a veterinarian - something that looks odd to you may be perfectly normal. A good example is the brownish discharge commonly seen around Persian cats' eyes that can simply be wiped off with some damp cotton wool.

    The tabs below gives details of common veterinary emergencies.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Poisoning

    GO TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY

    GOLDEN RULE: Never feed pets anything that you have not been instructed to feed them by their owners, and never leave “human food”, cosmetics, supplements, ointments, medications, cleaning products, etc. within their reach. All sorts of “people-friendly” products – from toothpaste to chocolates – can be dangerous to pets!

    If you suspect that a pet has been poisoned, contact the veterinarian immediately. If possible, take the CONTAINER and a sample of the substance you suspect the pet may have ingested with you so the vet can have a look and know how to best treat the pet.

    The following is a list of common poisons – keep these substances away from pets! If you notice pets acting strangely and/or notice these substances lying around / torn open / knocked over or in any other way possibly accessed by pets, go to the vet immediately! (This list is not exhaustive – many other substances may cause poisoning. If you find that pets are acting strangely and had access to anything they should not have had access to, treat it as a suspected poisoning).

  • Slug/snail pellets: Metaldehyde is a common ingredient of slug/snail baits or pellets. Metaldehyde poisoning is extremely serious and is usually fatal without urgent treatment. Pets may initially appear unsteady on their feet and twitchy, but may rapidly deteriorate and suffer continuous convulsions and possibly respiratory failure.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate (and other products containing cocoa) contains theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs and cats. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, hyperactivity, high temperature and blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and tremors.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen and many others. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, stomach ulceration and kidney failure. To be safe, keep ALL pills, medicines, supplements, ointments, etc. out of the reach of pets.
  • Rodent Poisons: Note that not all rodent poisons are the same – again, it is important to take the container to the vet so she can have a look at exactly what she is dealing with and treat the pet appropriately. Poisoning may cause life-threatening bleeding; effects may not appear for several days. Bleeding may be internal and isn’t always visible.
  • Grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants: Any quantity of these can be toxic to dogs. Raisins can also be toxic to cats. Cooking or baking doesn’t reduce the risk of poisoning. Poisoning may initially result in vomiting and diarrhoea and subsequently in kidney failure (which may occur a few days after the initial effects).
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D exists in many forms and is found in a variety of products, e.g. creams/ointments for psoriasis. Poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, convulsions, abnormal heart rhythm and kidney failure. Effects may be delayed for several days and may be permanent. Remember: Keep ALL pills, medicines, supplements, ointments, cosmetics, bathroom products, etc. out of the reach of pets.
  • Aldicarb: Should a home be targeted by criminals, chances are that this is the substance they will use if they attempt to poison the dogs. Albicarb resembles poppy seeds – small, black granules. It is readily available and the number of animals poisoned with illegally obtained poisons in South Africa has increased steadily in recent years. A wide range of illegally obtained and packaged poisons are sold by informal traders as "rat poison”. After rushing a poisoned animal to the vet, please report the incident to the police as this is a crime they need to investigate.
  • Xylitol: Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener commonly found in many chewing gums, mints, foods (e.g., pudding and gelatin snacks, etc.), oral rinses, toothpastes, and over-the-counter supplements (e.g., sugar-free multivitamins, fish oils, etc.). It is poisonous to dogs. Signs of xylitol poisoning include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremoring, seizures, jaundice, malaise, black-tarry stool, and even coma or death. Remember: Keep human foods away from pets and only feed them what owners have instructed you to. Keep ALL pills, medicines, supplements, ointments, cosmetics, bathroom products, etc. out of the reach of pets.
  • Common veterinary emergencies: Distended Abdomen or Abdominal Pain

    GO TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY

    If you notice that a pet’s abdomen is distended (tummy looks “blown-up”) and she seems to be in pain and/or uncomfortable, a serious medical problem necessitating immediate veterinary care is likely – go to the veterinarian.

    Abdominal distension may be accompanied by dry heaves, retching, weakness, collapse and difficulty breathing.

    It can be caused by air trapped in the stomach which can cause the stomach to twist over on itself. This condition is commonly known as “bloat” and usually occurs in large breed pets.

    Other reasons for abdominal distension include heart disease and internal bleeding.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Choking, difficulty breathing or pet has stopped breathing

    GO TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY

    If you notice any wheezing, choking, weak and raspy breathing or notice that a pet has stopped breathing, go to the vet immediately.

    These symptoms can be caused by a foreign body in the throat, allergic reaction, heart disease or pulmonary disease.

    If there is a foreign body present it is important NOT to try and extract it yourself – doing so may lodge the object even deeper, completely obstructing the airway.

    Breathing problems almost always indicate major pet health problems.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Heat stroke

    GO TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY

    A pet that becomes overheated in summer can suffer from dehydration, shallow breathing (panting), and can even get heatstroke. Keeping pets cool is an important part of ensuring that they enjoy a safe and happy summer, especially if there's a heat wave.

    The symptoms of heatstroke in a pet include agitation, extreme distress, stretching out and panting heavily, skin hot to the touch, vomiting, glazed eyes, drooling and staggering. Untreated, the pet will collapse into a coma and pass away.

    If you see any of the above-mentioned signs on a hot day, get to the veterinary clinic immediately.

    In order to prevent the pet’s condition from worsening in the car on the way to the vet, wrap him with wet towels (keep his nose and mouth open) and keep adding cold water or ice packs. In particular, the head must be kept cool and wet. However, do not immerse the pet in cold water.

    Of course, prevention is better than cure. On hot days, prevent heat stroke by following the tips below:

  • Keep pets calm. A pet that is running about too much during a really hot day or during a heatwave will soon become exhausted and dehydrated. Encourage pets to calm down by providing a relaxed, indoor place that is both cool and darkened (see the next step). Do not initiate play when they are in an agitated state; you may need to sit with them for a bit to help them self-calm.
  • Create a nice place where pets can escape from the heat. Place towels or sheets over the spots the pet usually likes to sit to create a cool barrier between their fur and the normally warmer surfaces. A hot water bottle can be filled with cool or cold water and left out for them to lie on. Another way is to use a small kitchen towel and soak it with water, then place it in the freezer to cool down. When the towel gets cold enough, lay it out on a smooth kitchen or bathroom floor for the pet to lie on; if it is too cold for the pet, leave it there as it will warm up enough over time. Do not force the pet onto it – simply introduce the pet to it, and if they like it, they can make up their own mind. (For cats, specifically, a good idea is to place a cardboard box on its side and put it somewhere that is quiet and out of the way such as in a closet, behind a chair, or near a cool spot in the house. Line it with a breathable, natural fabric that is not too warm. Stick an ice pack inside a sock and place it into the box for added cooling effect.)
  • Water should always be easily accessible and available in the outside area, as well as indoors. You could try adding ice cubes to a second bowl of water. Not all pets will appreciate this, but if they do, the pet has access to some very cool water. However, do not make this the only source of water, because if they find it too cold they will get dehydrated by avoiding it. You might be able to encourage licking of, and drinking from, ice cubes if you flavour them with chicken or beef stock.
  • If you are looking after an outdoor pet, be scrupulous about checking outdoor buildings and greenhouses before closing the doors. The building could overheat and this might prove fatal if you accidentally lock a pet in the building.
  • If it is very hot, cool pets down with dampened towels a few times a day. The evaporative action will cool the blood that circulates through the ears and reduce the overall body temperature. Simply dampen a cloth or paper towel and gently stroke pets with the cloth or towel from the top of their heads and down their backs.
  • Brush pets daily. Matted fur traps heat. Ensuring that the fur is not matted allows air to flow freely through it and will help to keep pets cool. This is especially important for long-haired breeds of pets.
  • Use your usual “human” cooling methods to help keep pets cool, too. If the house has air conditioning or fans, keeping pets indoors will ensure that they are benefiting from the cooling, too. Just be sure to allow the choice to exit if they feel too cold, so that they can go into a warmer room when they please.
  • It is recommended to keep pets inside during the hottest part of summer days, namely between 10am and 3pm.
  • Create cool play. Even in the heat it is possible to find a way to cool down through play. A really fun game is to toss a couple of ice cubes on the floor in front of pets to chase. Be sure to do this in a cool indoor environment.
  • Never leave pets in a car with closed windows.
  • Common veterinary emergencies: Seizures

    GO TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY

    Any pet that has never experienced a seizure before needs to be seen by a vet immediately.

    Signs associated with a seizure include:

  • Uncontrollable shaking and tremors
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Paddling with the legs
  • Possible uncontrollable urination and/or defecation (peeing and/or pooing)
  • The most common cause of seizures in pets is epilepsy. If a pet has been diagnosed as an epileptic, not every seizure will constitute an emergency.

    If you are looking after a pet who has been diagnosed with epilepsy, this will be noted and steps to take care of him/her will be on your Pet Parent Instruction sheet. If in doubt regarding their care, call your client or their veterinarian to get clearer instructions.

    That said, always seek immediate veterinary care if a pet with known epilepsy:

  • Has multiple seizures within a 24-hour period, or
  • Has a seizure lasting longer than a couple of minutes.
  • Common veterinary emergencies: Trauma

    GO TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY

    If a pet has sustained some form of trauma such as a fall, a gunshot wound, getting hit by a car or an attack by another animal, then immediate veterinary attention is needed.

    Even if it initially appears as though nothing is wrong, a check-up with the veterinarian is still necessary, because injuries sustained from a traumatic event (e.g. ruptured lungs, diaphragmatic hernias or internal bleeding) will not always manifest symptoms immediately.

    Wounds such as lacerations and bite wounds may be deeper than they appear and complications such as infection can result from delaying veterinary attention. (Note: Bite wounds on cats can be especially tough to see, with only small punctures often left behind after a cat fight. The layman’s eye will likely not even notice them. If a cat is acting listlessly and responds as if in pain when touched, he/she may have been in a fight you did not witness – go to the vet immediately).

    It may be possible that you did not witness a traumatic event - if you find a pet limping, seemingly in pain or “just not acting right”, then it would be best to have her checked out.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Vomiting and Diarrhoea

    Vomiting and diarrhoea are common problems in pets. The majority of cases are simple tummy upsets that typically resolve themselves within 12 hours.

    If you notice vomiting or diarrhoea, there is probably nothing serious to be worried about: Simply rest the stomach by withholding food for 4 to 6 hours and making sure the pet has access to plenty of water to stay hydrated.

    Important note: Veterinary attention is needed in case of any of the following:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Pain
  • Continued vomiting or diarrhoea for more than 12 hours
  • Blood can be seen in vomit or diarrhoea
  • The pet is known to suffer from a chronic disease, like diabetes
  • The pet is a young or very small animal – dehydration will occur very quickly and immediate veterinary help is needed.
  • Common veterinary emergencies: Eye problems

    Eye problems in pets have a nasty tendency to deteriorate faster than problems in other areas. These problems can quickly escalate into loss of the eye and blindness if not treated.

    Signs of ocular disease include redness of the eye, discharge, excessive tearing or swelling, squinting and constant pawing at the eye.

    Even if it is just a foreign body in the eye or a superficial scratch on the cornea, prompt veterinary treatment can prevent a minor problem from becoming a serious one.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Urinary problems

    If you notice that a pet is not producing any urine or is having difficulty urinating, veterinary attention is necessary.

    A urinary blockage may have occurred and this is life-threatening. Male cats are most at risk of this. Straining in the litter tray is always cause for concern.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Neurological conditions

    Neurological problems can manifest in pets as disorientation, incoordination and severe lethargy.

    Lethargy and weakness can be seen with any serious illness and should never be ignored.

    Take pets to the vet IMMEDIATELY if they appear to be in a coma or are unresponsive!

    Common veterinary emergencies: Loss of appetite, bleeding, burns, discharges, electric shock and scratching

    It is always advisable for the veterinarian to have a look in case of:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding
  • Burns
  • Discharges (e.g. from eyes, noses, vagina, etc.)
  • Electric shock
  • Excessive scratching (could be caused by fleas, mites, allergies...)
  • Common veterinary emergencies: Moms and babies

    If you are looking after an expectant mom, watch her carefully and take her to vet if you notice any of the following during labour:

  • More than 4 hours passing without any babies
  • Straining more than 30 minutes without a baby being born
  • More than 2 hours passing between babies.
  • Should the pet be a new mother and you notice that she suddenly starts neglecting the litter, contact the veterinarian.

    Common veterinary emergencies: Reptiles

    In addition to the notes above, please be familiar with the following information related specifically to reptiles.

    Signs of a healthy reptile are similar to those of other animals: clear eyes, nose and mouth; regular activity levels; eating; emitting waste; and having healthy skin.

    The skin of a healthy animal looks right for its species: For most reptiles, this means well rounded and filled out. The colour is full and clear.

    A healthy animal behaves normally for the species, alert to its surroundings, thermo-regulating during the course of the day, eating, drinking, and defecating on a regular basis. Shedding is regular, occurring every 4-6 weeks or so, sometimes more often for young animals.

    Should you notice any change in the behaviour or appearance of a reptile, call your client to find out whether you should visit the vet or whether your client has any particular instructions you need to follow to solve the problem.

    Look out for:

  • Abscesses
  • Blisters
  • Lumps
  • Broken limbs
  • Wheezing
  • Bubbles at the mouth
  • Continuous open-mouthed breathing
  • Rotten-looking scales
  • Bloating (swollen abdomen)
  • Mites (appearing as tiny red, white or black dots, sometimes appearing to be moving.)
  • Ticks
  • Runny nose
  • Redness of the skin
  • Inflamed skin
  • Skin lesions
  • Burn marks
  • Skin discolouration
  • A further note regarding shedding: If you notice that a reptile you are looking after shows signs of shedding, always inform your client to find out if they have any particular care instructions you need to follow. General instructions follow below, but always check with your client first to make sure you do things the way they prefer and the way that their pet is used to.

    Before shedding, reptiles will typically start to turn an ashy or pale colour, indicating that the top layer of skin is about to come off. Snakes’ eyes may turn milky or blue.

    Furthermore, reptiles may not eat as much as usual during this time. At this time, it is important to:

    Provide optimal humidity

  • Keep water containers full
  • Increase humidity by spraying water into the habitat.
  • Some pet owners may require you to bathe the reptile – this can be done by either gently spraying the body with lukewarm water OR by bathing the reptile in lukewarm water (make sure the water is not too deep! You just want the little guy to get properly wet). After spraying/bathing, cover the reptile with a towel and place him underneath his heat lamp so he can dry properly. DO NOT use any type of heating rock – this may cause burns.

    Provide objects in their enclosure that they can rub against

    Rocks or branches work well.

    **

    The most common skin problems in snakes occur with shedding. These problems usually involve retained skin on the tail or eye caps – if you notice this, contact your client. The tail, for example, could be suffering from blood flow restriction and be in need of veterinary attention.

    **

    A note regarding live prey: If you are asked to feed a snake live prey, keep an eye to ensure that the snake is not bitten or scratched by the prey – this may cause infection. If prey does injure the snake, contact your client to find out if they would like for you to visit the vet.

    ***

    NB!! It is very, very important to closely follow your client’s instructions regarding the maintenance of the habitat – small changes (e.g. temperature changes) may have huge effects!

    Common veterinary emergencies: Birds

    In addition to the notes above, please be familiar with the following information related specifically to birds.

    Should you notice any change in the behaviour or appearance of a bird you are looking after, call your client to find out whether you should visit the vet or whether your client has any particular instructions you need to follow to solve the problem.

    Look out for:

  • Weight loss
  • Change in the colour or consistency of droppings
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Squinting
  • Swelling of the eyes
  • A change in the shape and/or diameter of the nostrils
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Sneezing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inactivity in a normally active bird
  • Carrying the wings drooped below the body
  • Blood in the cage or on the bird
  • Open-mouthed breathing and tail-bobbing (moving rhythmically up and down)
  • Lumps on the body
  • Swollen feet and joints
  • A decrease in grooming and preening
  • A decrease in talking, calling or singing
  • Sitting motionless on the floor of the cage
  • Falling from the perch, limping or perching on one leg
  • Plucking out feathers
  • Common Veterinary Emergencies: Fish

    In addition to the notes above, please be familiar with the following information related specifically to fish.

    As with any other living being, fish look and behave differently when they are ill. Recognising these changes early can mean the difference between life and death, not only for the affected fish, but for all the fish in an aquarium.

    In a small and closed ecosystem as like an aquarium, once a disease, fungus or parasite affects one fish, it can quickly spread through the water to all the others.

    Should you notice any change in the behaviour or appearance of a fish, call your client to find out whether you should visit the vet (or a knowledgeable pet shop with aquariums – they will likely have whatever you need if you need something to fix a problem) or whether your client has any particular instructions you need to follow to solve the problem.

    It is often advised to separate a sick individual from its tank mates.

    NB!! It is very, very important to follow your client’s instructions regarding the maintenance of the aquarium – small changes in the aquarium (e.g. p H and temperature changes) may have huge effects!

    When looking after fish, be on the lookout for:

  • Clamped fins (fins held close to the body)
  • Frayed fins
  • Bloating
  • Enlargement of the eyes
  • Erratic swimming and shimmying
  • Drifting close to the bottom or gasping for air at the surface
  • Scraping themselves on plants or filters
  • Loss of appetite
  • White spots on fins or body
  • Parasites on body
  • Cotton-like patches on fins or body
  • Fish that are normally active, remaining still
  • Purplish rather than bright pink-red gills
  • Again – if you notice any changes in a fish’s appearance or behaviour, contact your client and proceed as per their instructions. Should you be asked to visit a vet or pet shop for advice, discuss this advice with your client and follow instructions given carefully.

    Contact us

    Your feedback, comments and suggestions are always welcome! Simply click here .

    For emergencies/dramas, contact Angelique at 082 607 2481.

    If your clients are coming home earlier/later than planned, please inform Angelique at angelique@studentco.co.za or Whatsapp 082 607 2481.

    For general questions, comments, queries, feedback or concerns, please contact Caro at caro@studentco.co.za. Caro is the general manager. She wants to hear about it if you have any problems with your work experience, or have any suggestions. Please do not hesitate to get in touch :).

    If your questions weren’t answered here or you don’t understand something, get in touch at caro@studentco.co.za.

    To let us know about new assignments with regular or referred clients, get in touch via angelique@studentco.co.za or Whatsapp Angelique at 082 607 2481.

    For any meet-and-greet related communication, please Whatsapp Angelique at 082 607 2481.

    Should you notice an error on your payment invoice or should the services you rendered differ from the original booking, simply reply to the payment email you receive, detailing payment for the booking.

    To update/give your bank details, get in touch via jolanda@studentco.co.za.

    Should you wish to leave us (awwww!), get in touch via angelique@studentco.co.za to give your one month's notice.

    If your address / phone number / other details change, please inform Ashley (ashley@studentco.co.za)

    Please note that the applications mailbox (applications@studentco.co.za) is NOT checked more than once a week - approved team members should NOT use this email address.

    My StudentCo profile

    Pet sitter profiles are publicly available on our website.

    New team members: Please note that your profile will not be created immediately upon completion of your application. It will take a few days, up to a few weeks. Please do respond to opportunities even if you do not yet see your profile on the website – you can start working before your profile has been created, provided that you have already sent through your Police Clearance Certificate or proof that you have applied for one.

    YOUR PROFILE WILL ONLY BE CREATED ONCE YOU HAVE SENT YOUR POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE OR PROOF THAT YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR ONE - YOU CANNOT BE MATCHED WITH FAMILIES BEFORE THIS HAS BEEN RECEIVED.

    StudentCo keeps profiles updated with client reviews.

    To see some profile examples, have a look here.

    Social media

    We love sharing your best pet sitting pictures on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms!

    When, while pet sitting, you take a picture you love, please share it with us.

    It's SUPER EASY: Simply contact Andrea (Whatsapp: 073 747 4770 OR email: andrea@studentco.co.za). Remember to tell her the name of the furkid/s in the pic.

    Some of you may have the above number saved as Chante's number. Chante no longer requires the use of a company phone and Andrea has taken hers. Please just update the contact info on your side :).

    We will share the best pictures with our large audience of pet sitters and pet parents :). Your own profile will also be linked whenever possible.

    Tax

    Your work as a pet sitter is done in your capacity as an independent contractor of StudentCo.

    This means that we do not furnish you with IRP5 documents or any other tax documents. We do not deduct any tax from the amounts paid over to you.

    As an independent contractor, you are technically supposed to provide StudentCo with invoices listing your work done, but as we have access to your bookings and details, we do this for you. We just find this is easier for everyone.

    You will be sent copies of all your invoices every Monday and are welcome to let us know if we made any mistakes. These are corrected gladly.

    Your tax returns are your own responsibility – note that you may not be required to submit anything to SARS if you earn less than a certain amount per year. At the time of writing these guidelines, that amount was R73 650 per year.

    It is your responsibility to ascertain whether or not you qualify to have to submit a tax return. Should this be the case, your pet sitting income can be listed on an IT12 form, under “Local business, Trade and Professional Income”.