How much is the service?
When you ring Animal Aunts you will be quoted a rate per day which is arrived at from the number, type and requirements of your animals and home.
- 25% of this daily rate (+V.A.T.) is payable to Animal Aunts in advance to make a booking (We can take credit card payments by phone)
- Our Animal Aunts are self-employed house and animal sitters and you will pay the remaining 75% (plus travel, food float and any additional expenses) directly to them at the end of the booking . The Aunt will provide you with an invoice.
- You also pay the Animal Aunt’s travel expenses (40p per mile or public transport costs). Because we have so many active Aunts we can normally get someone from close by and hence keep these costs to a minimum. The office can give you an idea of the approximate total travel costs whether by plane, train or automobile. Although we try to find an Animal Aunt close to you, in busy periods, in emergencies or if you need specialist skills they may have to travel from further afield. Travel expenses to and from you and incurred carrying out their duties must be paid at 40p per mile. We would ask you to pay travel expenses in full – please remember Animal Aunts do not earn a large income. If you wish the Animal Aunt to visit you prior to the booking there is no fee for their time but travel expenses must be paid.
- Food – please leave the Animal Aunt a cash float for their food at £7 per day – they will return unspent float to you at the end of the booking.
- Any other costs incurred by the Animal Aunt in carrying out their duties.
- If an Aunt is required to stay on the property 24 hours per day, then Clients will need to pay an additional £30 per day (4 hours @ £7.50 per hour) directly to the Aunt in lieu of time off.
- If there is someone else living in the property during the Aunt’s contract there will be an additional daily fee payable directly to the Aunt (see Condition 10 in Terms & Conditions).
Each booking is different but the fees for our residential service start at £80 per day plus whatever animals you have. Have a chat with the office team and they will give you a bespoke quote based on your particular needs. We try to balance our fees so that our Animal Aunts can make a (modest) living doing the job they love and our Clients have peace of mind and good value for money.
Visits to cat feed, dog walk or horse care start at £20 per visit plus travel expenses. Please note we can arrange for residential Aunts anywhere, but visiting is much more limited to London and the South East.
How do I pay?
We currently accept payment over the phone for most major credit cards (Not American Express) which we enter through the secure Worldpay customer not present portal. However shortly we will be creating a web portal where our clients can look at their bookings, download their bookings, make new bookings and pay for bookings.
Who are the Animal Aunts?
Teachers, ex-services, veterinary nurses, builders, civil servants, tree surgeons, smallholders, farmers, orchardists, professional grooms, ex-police and river police, writers, actors, artists, photographers, painters, drawers, embroiderers, knitters, early retired, vets, gamekeepers, fish farmers, gardeners, doctors, police dog-handlers, ex Royal Stud Groom, nannies, housekeepers, butlers, chauffeurs, Pub landlords/ladies, permaculturists, retired riding school owners, retired senior managers, zoo keepers, cooks, large New Zealand team, they all love animals and have knowledge and experience in their care
Animal Aunts may come from any walk of life and be aged from 21 to over 80, what they all have in common are integrity, honesty, a love of animals, and the knowledge / experience to care for them. Many Aunts work virtually full time with animals both through Animal Aunts and for their own clients – they are in fact professional house and animal sitters. Because 75% of the fee goes directly to the Animal Aunt they are able to make a living (albeit modest) and do the job they love.
Animal Aunts are self-employed and as such we are not under any obligation to offer them work, and they are not under any obligation to accept a job offered – this means that we are confident in any Aunt who comes to you, and that they are keen to care for your house and animals.
How are they ‘vetted’?
Every week, approximately 30 people enquire about becoming a pet sitter (Animal Aunt) for us in spite of the fact that we have never advertised for staff. We actually take on only a few of them as required to keep up the numbers and range of skills. After an initial conversation to determine if they are likely to be suitable, we send them a registration form to request full details of their background, experience with animals, and the names of four referees. We write to each of these referees not only asking them to confirm the honesty / integrity / skills of the applicant, but also for anything that may make the person unsuitable (e.g. drink, drugs, severe financial problems, previous behaviour). We do not use any person until we have received all four references. Approximately four people at a time are selected to come to our office for a three hour interview / briefing. During this we carefully explain exactly what house and animal sitting involves, and what we and the clients expect of them. A lot of the briefing is devoted to passing on our experience so that they not only avoid mistakes, but positively thrill and delight their clients. We also find out from each candidate in detail their knowledge and experience of each type of animal, and any preferences / dislikes they may have (i.e. like large dogs, allergic to cats, top class rider with experience in dressage etc.). All this information is logged on our database so that if the candidate is accepted as an Animal Aunt we are able to match the client’s requirements exactly with the skills of the Aunt. In the rare event of an Aunt’s work not being up to standard we will no longer offer them work. From January 2003 new applicants have had to provide a Police check.
Can an Animal Aunt care for my relative / child?
Animal Aunts cannot care for children or for adults where any nursing is required however we have many who are happy to provide companionship or help with shopping, cooking and other day-to-day tasks.
Can an Animal Aunt do additional jobs while I am away?
Many Aunts have talents and abilities in a wide variety of fields and are willing to undertake extra tasks for their Clients. Please remember when asking your Aunt to do extra tasks during your absence, they must be paid accordingly. Please make sure the Aunt is happy to do what you require (if they do not wish to or feel they do not have the required skills please respect this) and come to a mutually agreeable financial arrangement with your Aunt before you go away.
Are there any Insurance issues?
Clients should have normal house and contents insurance in force. Any valuables should also be insured against accidental damage. Please see the Terms & Conditions – particularly Condition c. for the Aunt.
We have arranged a group policy that Animal Aunts must purchase through us. This policy covers them for up to £5,000,000 against their negligence, and we do not offer them work unless they have it. The Animal Aunt is not liable for breakdown / damage due to normal wear and tear.
Some household insurance policies become void if the householder is away for more than a specified number of days continuously. Please check your policy if going away for a lengthy period, and check that having a house sitter will enable you to remain fully covered.
What do I do if I feel the Animal Aunt is unsuitable?
In spite of the care we take to match your requirements to a suitable Animal Aunt, if for any reason you are unhappy, even at very short notice please ring us and we will find someone else. We want you to go away 100% confident in the person caring for your home and animals.
What happens in an emergency?
Before you leave, your Animal Aunt will go through the checklist with you – please fill in emergency numbers for vet / plumber / electrician / burglar alarm (+ codes etc.) and family / friend’s contact details. Whatever the emergency the Animal Aunt will deal with it quickly and professionally and let you or the emergency contact know ASAP.
What if the Animal Aunt has to leave?
Occasionally due to sickness, family emergency, injury etc. an Animal Aunt may have to leave a job. The Aunt can contact Animal Aunts at any time 24hrs per day – we will immediately get another Animal Aunt to take over. Your home and animals will not be left unattended, and we will inform you or your emergency contact ASAP.
What if I am delayed on my return?
Please try to inform the Animal Aunt as soon as possible so that if they need to leave for another assignment immediately after yours, we can arrange temporary cover for you. We will not leave your home and animals unattended.
What if I need someone urgently?
We can usually find someone even at very short notice. Call us now on 01730 821529.
Is my Data secure?
Animal Aunts only hold your information for core business purposes and never pass this information on to any third party. You have the right under the Data Protection Act to have a copy of any information held on you. We protect our computer systems from unauthorised access using up to date firewall technology.
What if I have other questions?
Please ring us on 01730 821529 and we’ll be happy to answer them.