Q. What does it mean to be licensed, insured and bonded?
We are a professional business licensed in the city of Chicago which means we pay taxes and must follow business ethical and legal requirements. We also carry an expansive pet sitters’ insurance policy which covers bodily injury and property damage as well as loss, injury or death of your animal and limited emergency veterinary care. Additionally, we have an expanded bonded policy which means you are covered if a walker is convicted due to a dishonest act or if we’re at fault for negligent acts by our walkers in your home. We want to make sure that every aspect of our business is professional and accountable. As of 2020, we have never had to take out a claim on our insurance.
Q. What kind of qualifications do your walkers have?
Each walker and sitter has passed a criminal background check, has prior experience professionally and/or personally working with animals, and completes a five part custom certification test. Many of our walkers are also internationally accredited in other areas of animal care. Because our walkers are actual employees and not just independent contractors, they are fully trained and go through an extensive hiring process including a lengthy online interview, face-to-face interview, training with owners’ LeAnna and/or Brandon as well as 1-2 other long-term walkers. Finally, they do “trial visits” with the owners’ pets before taking on clients of their own. You can learn more about each walker and their unique qualifications under the Our Walkers tab under our About Us section.
Q. Hyde Bark costs a bit more than a private sitter or the college kid down the block. Why is that?
We are proud to actually employ our walkers, not just use independent contractors. This means that our walkers go through actual training, certification tests, have continual mentoring and must perform to our high standards of care. As actual employers, we contribute to their taxes, have workmans comp, and offer paid time off for all employees. We pay above industry standard and most of our walkers are full time, meaning they walk dogs for a living. We are hoping to be able to offer health benefits too in 2021. We believe in taking care of our walkers so that they will be happy and proud to work for Hyde Bark! As such we have very low turnover compared to industry standard. We also pay to use Pet Check Technology which provides you, our clients, with real-time reports featuring photos and GPS maps so you have peace-of-mind knowing you are getting the full service you are paying for. Finally, we are also fully licensed, insured and bonded.
Q. Will I have the same walker each time?
For regular recurring M-F walks, you will have 1-2 primary walkers. For varying or “as-needed” service your walker may vary depending on availability, though we do try to keep the same few people on each pet whenever possible. We always take your pets’ emotional well-being into account first and foremost and we think there is an art to pairing the right people with the right pets!
Q. How will I know when my walker or sitter has taken care of my pet?
We proudly use Pet Check Technology for every service we provide. Each customer has a unique QR code in the form of a magnet that you can simply place on your fridge. When your walker or sitter arrives for your scheduled appointment they scan with their phone your unique code and you will then get an instant email and/or phone notification that they have arrived. The app we use tracks our time and location for the duration of your scheduled appointment and when your appointment time has been met, we leave you a report about how the visit went, what business your pet did and you even get pictures of your pet with their walker or sitter!
Q. What is your service area?
We are located in Hyde Park and we service exclusively Hyde Park and the immediate surrounding south side neighborhoods such as Kenwood, Bronzeville, and Woodlawn. We feel keeping our service small and local enables us to provide the best quality service quickly and efficiently. Our borders are south to 61st Street, west to King Drive, east to South Shore Drive and north to 41st Street.
Q. What kind of pets do you care for?
You name it, we can take care of it! Everything from dogs to cats, to chickens to rabbits, to lizards to plants!
Q. What is the best way to reach you?
We all walk dogs and take care of kitties every day, owners LeAnna and Brandon included, so the best way to reach us is via email at email@example.com as both Brandon and LeAnna get pinged immediately when a new email is received.
Q. Do you perform evening and weekend dog walks and cat visits?
Yes we do! There is an additional $5 fee for weekend dog walks Saturday and Sunday. Evening dog walks and cat visit scheduled between 5 PM-9 PM are also $5 more. There are no additional weekend fees for cat-sitting. Please note weekend and evening visits are subject to walker availability.
Q. How does my walker get into my home?
We ask for two sets of keys for your home whenever possible. One set will be kept with your walker and the second set will be kept in a secure lock box in the office. We ask for two sets in the event of an emergency and we need to assign a substitute walker last minute. Other options are an outdoor lockbox, or you can place your keys in your (locked) mailbox and provide us with a mailbox key. We try to flexible depending on different building rules and protocol.
Q. Can I set a specific appointment time?
We ask that you allow us a two hour window in which to arrive for your service for dogs over six months of age and cats. For example, if you schedule a walk at 11 AM, your service will take place between 11 AM and 1PM. If you have a puppy that is under six months of age we ask for a one hour window. Please note we are NOT available for cat visits between 11am and 1pm as this is by far our busiest dog walking time.
Q. Do you train dogs?
While we are not professional dog trainers, we do know proper dog walking techniques. Some of our walkers also have backgrounds and additional education in animal training and would be happy to work with your dog on simple commands and proper leash etiquette.
Q. Do you do group walks?
Unless specifically requested, we do not do group walks. Each walk is private one-on-one.
Q. Can you take my dog off leash, like to a dog park?
Unfortunately, our insurance policy requires your dog be leashed at all times when off your property.
Q. Can you administer medication to pets?
Yes, we can administer pill and liquid medication at no extra charge per your detailed directions. Several of us are also experienced in administering insulin injections and subcutaneous injections.
Q. What is your cancellation or last-minute appointment policy?
Services must be scheduled or cancelled no later than 5PM the night before. Services scheduled or cancelled later than 5PM the night before will incur a $5 late fee. Same day services are subject to walker availability and are not guaranteed and will also include an automatic $5 tip for your walker in addition to the $5 late fee. We ask that you schedule your walks for the week by 5PM Sunday evening in order to reserve the same steady walker(s) each week.
Q. How do I cancel a service?
You can cancel any scheduled service up to 5PM the day before via the Pet Check desktop site. This feature is not available via the app at this time. Please email us to cancel a same-day service, or after 5PM. Please note cancellations must be received before the scheduled appointment time.
Q. Do you provide service in my home or yours?
We offer three kinds of pet-sitting. We offer stop-in service, where a walker comes by to walk your dog 3-4 times per day, or overnight service which includes 3-4 walks and a sleeping over in your home. We also offer private boarding in walkers’ homes but space is limited to five dogs maximum, and we get booked up quite far in advance for this option!
Q. Do I have to be a regular client to use your in-home dog pet-sitting or boarding services?
Yes, we only offer pet-sitting services for our regular dog walking clients. We believe it is important to your dog’s emotional well-being to establish an on-going relationship beforehand.
Q. How and when do I pay you?
You are able to add a credit card onto your account and you will be auto-billed every Monday after services, or we can also take Venmo, Chase QuickPay/Zelle, Paypal, and checks. For first-time cat-sitting and pet-sitting clients only we do require payment before starting services.
Q. May I give my walker or sitter gratuity?
Of course! When you schedule your services, you will see a list of optional add-ons, including the option to add a $1, $2, $5 or $10 tip to your walker. You can also send a tip to @hydebark via Venmo or to firstname.lastname@example.org via Zelle – please be sure to write it is a tip for your walker in the comments section.
Q. How do I schedule services?
You will have your own secure Pet Check Technology account in which you are able to schedule services online. You can schedule one appointment at a time or multiple visits. We ask our clients to schedule their own services to minimize the risk of miscommunication or error.
Q. How can I schedule more than one walk or visit at a time, like if I am going on vacation?
When you go to schedule your walk or visit, select Recurring Weekly from the Frequency dropdown menu. You will then be able to enter your start and end dates and select the days you want service to schedule all of your appointments at once.
Q. How can I communicate with my walker?
Simply click on any appointment scheduled and you can add a customer comment that will be visible to your walker, or you can add a comment in the customer comment field when scheduling your appointment
Q. My cat is flexible and it does not matter what time of day my sitter comes by…what time should I schedule my cat for?
If any time during normal business hours works for your kitty’s visits, you can just leave the time at the default 1pm. Cat visits scheduled at 1pm will be done between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
Local Vet: Hyde Park Animal Clinic 1363 E. 53rd St 773-324-4484
Local Vet: Pershing Animal Hospital 1515 E. Hyde Park Blvd. 773-288-8888
Emergency Vet: Metropolitan 1556 S. Michigan Ave. 312-583-1921 (open until 10pm)
Emergency Vet: MedVet 3123 N Clybourn Ave 773-281-7110 (24hrs)
Pet supplies, food and treats: Sprocket & Stone 1013 E. 53rd St 773-966-4777
Dog Parks: Jackson Bark 6000 S Lake Shore Dr. 773-272-1307
Cat adoptions, fostering and rescue: Hyde Park Cats www.hydeparkcats.org