Pet Sitting FAQ
Let’s set up a Meet and Greet, wait, what’s a Meet and Greet?
A complimentary appointment is required where we will meet with you and all of your pets. The appointment usually lasts about 15-30 minutes. Before the appointment, we will send you some documents to fill out and sign. Please do your best to fill out the documents prior to the Meet and Greet so that the appointment goes smooth and efficiently. The “Meet and Greet” allows you to meet your pet sitters and to see if our services are right for you. Your pets get two walkers that you will know and trust. The “Meet and Greet” also provides time for the sitters to interact with your pet in your presence, which is important when deciding which service is right for you. During the visit we will perform the following tasks: introductions to you and your pet, pick up the keys, confirm pertinent information about you and your pet (e.g. vet information, emergency contact, billing information, special requests, etc.), sign contracts, and answer any questions you may have. After the “Meet and Greet,” if all goes well and we both agree it is a good fit for each other, we will send you your login credentials and sign you up for services! Please have two copies of your house keys and a copy of your pet’s vaccination records for us. Sparky Steps is set up so that you have 2 pet sitters. If any of the pet sitters must call off due to an emergency, you can count on 2 people with access to your keys to come and fill in. This ensures quality service and comfortable headspace. Contact us for more information!
How do I go about scheduling walks?
All walks and visits are scheduled by you online. Once you sign up for our service, you will receive a login and password to our customized Sparky Steps DoTimely app. When logged in you can manage and schedule your pet’s walks or visits. Walks can be requested the day of service. However, there is an additional rush fee of $10 for same-day requests. Visits that are requested after 9 PM and the day of will be treated as a same-day rush fee request, which will now be a $10 fee. For example, if you need a visit 6/1, you will need to request a service by 9 PM the previous day to not be charged the rush fee; however, if you request it after 9 PM or on the same day the rush fee will apply.
Do you have an app?
Yes! We use an online management system called DoTimely for all of our scheduling needs. Once you sign up for our service, you will receive a unique login and password. There you will have the option of altering your pet’s routine, request schedule changes, view payment history, update credit cards, and more! You can download the app or use the website, its all up to you!
What is your cancellation policy?
All visits must be cancelled by 9 PM the day before. I.e. If you scheduled a visit for 3 PM on Thursday, then you must cancel before 9 PM on Wednesday. If the visit is canceled after 9 PM, you will be charged for the visit. This cancellation policy helps us better coordinate our schedule.
Will my walker arrive at the exact time we request?
Your walker will arrive during a two-hour time window. So if you schedule a visit for 1PM, the two-hour window is between 12PM to 2PM. We cannot, unfortunately, guarantee a specific time within that time window due to the potential for unexpected delays that walkers may encounter throughout their day.
When do we pay for services?
We charge our clients weekly on Sundays. Sparky Steps LLC provides services prior to billing. All products are deemed delivered once the service has taken place at a predetermined time and place. Services may be ordered individually or set by a recurring schedule predetermined by the client.
What’s the return/refund policy for pet sitting?
Any fees and/or payments paid to Sparky Steps LLC are nonrefundable except for in the following circumstances: if we wrongly charged your credit card or if a dog walker did not perform a scheduled dog walk for reasons that are directly attributable to Sparky Steps LLC or the dog walker. If you believe that you have been wrongfully charged an amount by us for any reason, you may notify us and request a refund. Please let us know if we find that an amount has been wrongfully charged, we will conduct a review and then refund you that amount. Please include full details of the disputed transaction, including the relevant dates, payment details, and a short explanation as to why the amount is disputed. If you are entitled to a refund but instead prefer that we credit you for a future dog walk, please let us know and we will accommodate your request.
Do you work on the holidays?
Yes, we do! If you need a walk on those days, please let us know at your earliest convenience! The cost will be double your regular rate. We consider the following to be our business holidays: New Year’s Day, MLK, President's Day, Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Indigenous People's Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year Eve.
What are your hours and can I request a walk at 11PM?
Our regular service prices apply Monday through Friday from 9AM-5PM. If you need a walk outside of those hours, then additional charges will apply. Additional surcharges are:
- $2 extra for each additional pet
- $5 extra for weekend visits
- $10 extra for rush fee reservations
- $5 extra for off-hour requests (before 9AM or after 5PM)
- Double charge for holiday visits
How Can I Get a Discounted Rate?
To qualify for discounted client prices, you are required to have a minimum of 3 visits scheduled per week. As long as you maintain your 3 visits per week, you will have the discounted rate. If you cancel one visit in that week, your rates will adjust to a la carte rates.
What are the A La Carte Rates?
For our a la carte clients, we have outlined the pricing below. We try our best to accommodate all non-regular requests. When a la carte requests are submitted, we have to coordinate in-house to see if we can fit you into our schedule. If you are scheduled once or twice per week, you will be charged a la carte pricing. If you are a vacation/periodical client, you will be charged the a la carte pricing. A reminder that our services are on a first-come-first-serve basis.
- 10 Minute Visits will be $13 per visit.
- 15 Minute Visits will be $16 per visit.
- 30 Minute Visits will be $22 per visit.
- 45 Minute Visits will be $27 per visit.
- 60 Minute Visits will be $32 per visit.
How can I update my information?
The client is responsible for updating our office with any changes regarding your pet(s). Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can always have it on file. i.e. no longer using pee pads, no longer using cage, specific training, specific walking instructions, do not allow dog(s) to go in backyard, no longer feeding, etc.
Does my pet(s) need to be current with their vaccinations?
Yes! All pets under our care must be up to date on their vaccinations. If your pets vaccination is outdated, we have the right to halt services until we receive the updated vaccination records.
Do you walk aggressive pets?
For aggressive pets, our manager will interview you and your pet in person to determine if there is a good fit between your pet and our services. There is no charge for this visit. If additional visits are needed to socialize your pet with our walker, then you will need to be present at all visits and pay the normal dog walking service fee until socialized. If at any time our walker or our management feel that it is unsafe to perform a service, we will reserve the right to discontinue service without notice.
Will Sparky Steps still come out in inclement and crazy weather?
If the federal government or public schools in your district are closed due to inclement weather, you can call us by 9:00 AM the day of the visit to cancel the walk without charge. Sparky Steps will make all reasonable attempts to drive safely to your home and care for your pets as soon as possible in inclement weather. However, we strongly recommend that you give a house key to a trustworthy neighbor in case roads are closed, dangerous or impassable due to ice, snow, floods, etc. Sparky Steps reserves the right to cancel visits if walkers are unable to safely reach your home. The service schedule may be changed, interrupted, altered or cancelled due to circumstances.
Should we give you parking passes to make your visits easier?
If you can, yes! Please provide us with zone passes if you reside on a street that is parking permit required. We really appreciate this.
How do we pay for services?
Sparky Steps currently only accepts credit card payments. Payment is expected every Sunday. If you have a credit card on file, you will be charged at that time. All other payments are auto-billed and processed every Sunday night through our online automatic payment system, and at this time only Visa and MasterCard are accepted. We do not accept checks or cash, but you may tip your walker in cash.
What if my payment doesn’t go through?
If we are unable to process your invoice on Sunday, there will be a 2-day grace period, after which you will be charged a $30 delay fee. If you fail to pay by the next billing cycle, another delay fee will be added accordingly. Failure to pay on time, may result in a halting of services until the last bill has been paid. We try our best to be understanding of everyone’s situation. Should there be any issues, please feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to work with you.
How do you handle keys? Do you need our keys to get into our home?
Yes we need the keys! Two working copies of your house keys must be provided at the time of the consult. If you do not have two copies available for us at that time, we are happy to arrange to pick them up at another time for a fee of $10.
We also are willing to work with door people and your own personal lockbox arrangements. Please let us know what you prefer. If you need us to drop off or pick up keys there will be a $10 charge per each occurrence. We offer lock-out assistance during the hours 8AM – 9PM for only $15 after hours from 10PM and 7AM it’s $40. Trust us, it happens, and we understand.
What are your office hours?
9AM – 5PM Monday through Friday. You can always give us a call outside of our office hours. But we ask you to do your best to communicate with us during our regular hours. Calls and texts received before 8AM and after 6PM will not be returned until regular business hours. You can always email us and we will try to return emails as soon as possible.
Are you insured?
Yes. Insurance covers any personal property in our care, custody, and control (including pets) up to $100,000. Insurance covers Sparky Steps managers, members, and employees. Exclusions may apply. We are insured through Pet Care Insurance.
How do you maintain quality?
Our first priority is your pets, and that means we must maintain our quality of service. We keep that as a top priority by keeping open lines of communication. We communicate with our walkers openly and honestly and expect them to do the same. We encourage and welcome feedback, suggestions, and critiques from our clients. We our constantly updating our policy and procedure and improving our safety and quality standards.
Do you make an effort to be clean?
At Sparky Steps we make every effort to follow our policy of “leave no trace” when we enter and exit your home. On wet days, please leave a designated towel that we can use to wipe down your pup. We will always try our best to keep your pups clean, but sometimes our city can be a messy place and at times a little dirt is inevitable.
Will you dry off my dog(s) after a rainy walk?
Of course, a wet dog is a smelly dog, we will do our best to dry your pet off. Please leave a towel out for us on rainy days!
Will you put on my dog’s winter and rain gear?
Of course! We will put on any gear your doggies need, no problem!
Will you clean up after my cat?
Yes we will! Kitty litter, accidents, fur balls, and the occasional cat that likes to push things off the table, we will clean it up for you!
Do you work with retractable leashes?
We prefer to never use retractable leashes. They are quite unpredictable, and they are not always safe. If that is the only leash you have, we will ask you to provide a more traditional leash.
What are your qualifications?
Our services are performed by responsible, caring individuals that have a true passion for animals. The staff is made up of loving pet owners that have been taking care of pets for over 10 years. The owner Michael Jaurigue received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and has provided pet services for many years. We have completed dog training courses and continuously educate ourselves on the newest pet-related care techniques.
Do you offer walks anytime, day and night?
Yes, we do and we’re happy to try our best to accommodate your request! We offer weekend and off/hours walks by special request. $5 surcharge for weekend visits and $5 surcharge for off-hours (before 9AM or after 5PM).
What is your policy for requesting weekend walks?
If you’d like to schedule a weekend walk, please do so by Friday before 9 AM. If you have a request after that, we will do our very best to accommodate you and your pet.
Why couldn’t you fulfill a weekend walk request?
Our walkers typically work Monday through Friday between the hours of 9AM to 5PM. If weekend walks requests are made by 9AM on Fridays, we will most likely be able to accommodate your request. At times, we are booked solid through the night and weekend, but our staff makes every effort to be available.
How much is the special request/ off-hours fee?
The fee is $5 for off hour requests before 9AM or after 5PM. Please email or call us for more information.
How much is it extra for Saturday and Sunday walks?
The weekend fee is $5 for walks during normal hours 9AM thru 5PM. Any off hour walks (before 9AM or after 5PM) requested will be an additional $5.
How late can I request a walk?
Walks can be requested the day of service. There is an additional rush fee of $10 for same-day walking requests. We will do our best to fulfill same-day requests.
Why is there a “Meet and Greet”?
During this complimentary appointment, we will meet with you and all of your pets. The appointment usually lasts about 15-30 minutes. The “Meet and Greet” allows you to meet your pet sitter, and to see if our service is right for you. It also provides time for the sitter to interact with your pet in your presence, which is important when deciding which service is right for you. An important note, there is no charge for the “Meet and Greet.” During the visit we will perform the following tasks: introductions to you and your pet, pick up keys, confirm pertinent information about you and your pet (e.g. vet information, emergency contact, billing information, special requests, etc.), and answer any questions you may have.
Will I have the same walker each day?
Yes! A primary walker is assigned to you. There is a secondary/ fill-in walker assigned as well. The secondary walker will fill in when your normal walker is ill or taking the day off.
Do you walk more than one dog at a time?
No. We only do one-on-one walks with the same daily dog walker. We want your dog(s) to receive the best quality individualized attention for the entire walk. If you have two or three dogs that live in the same household, then yes we can walk them! $2 additional charge for each pet.
Will my pet receive individualized attention?
Of course! We guarantee that your pet(s) will receive the best quality individualized attention for the full walking session. Typically, for a 15 minute visit, this translates into a good 10 minute walk, and we use the remaining five for cleaning the dogs after the walk, type up a detailed note to our client after each walk, and refilling water bowls, giving treats, etc. However, we do understand that the needs of every pet is different so we adjust accordingly.
Can I request a specific time for my dog to be walked?
We require a 2 hour walk window for your dog. You can request what time window you prefer during our normal business hours. We will do our best to try and accommodate smaller time windows for puppies and dogs with special needs.
Do you care for cats or other animals?
Yes. We’re happy to look after cats and other critters. Please contact us for more information.
Can I tip my walker?
Of course! We encourage you to show your appreciation of your walker’s dedication and good service. If you do choose to tip, please tip your walker in cash or separate check.
Do you offer boarding and day care?
No, we currently do not offer day care. We can come over as many times as your pet needs throughout the day and night! Keeping your pet at home is a great way to keep your pet comfortable in your absence. Usually when one of our clients go on vacation, we come throughout the day. Three walks per day with the times that you specify works out great. You can add additional visits as needed. It’s like while you go on vacation the furry one is going on a staycation! Contact us for more information.
Do you administer medications?
Yes, if it is in pill form and your pet takes it willingly. Detailed instructions must be provided before we consider administering any medication. Other medications can be considered based upon circumstances. We cannot give shots at this time.
What if I need an emergency pet care service?
We will always try our best to accommodate last minute and/or emergency visits but it is not guaranteed. We recommend having a trusted neighbor or friend that you can call in case of emergency and you can’t get in contact with us who knows and has access to your home and pets.
What if my dog doesn’t like a leash?
As it is city ordinance to have all dogs on leashes when in a public area and for the safety of your pet, Sparky Steps LLC will always have your pet leashed. This strict rule includes parks that do not have fences and are not pet-friendly. Safety is our number one priority!
Will your pet providers discipline my pet, if necessary?
No. Sparky Steps believes in positive reinforcement for pets. Our primary goal is to ensure that your pet is safe and happy. If there is a disciplinary problem, your sitter will notify you.
How do I schedule my pet’s walks or visits?
All walks and visits are scheduled by you online through DoTimely.com. Once you sign up for our service, you will receive a login and password. When logged in you can manage and schedule your pet’s walks or visits, and you will receive a confirmation email when your request is approved within 24 hours. You can also call, email or text to schedule or cancel walks, however, DoTimely.com is preferred.
What is licensed and insured?
Sparky Steps LLC is licensed through our registration in Illinois to provide pet care services and holds a Chicago business license as well. Sparky Steps managers, members, and employees are Insured to protect the health of your pet and the safety and security of your home. We can also provide prospective clients with copies of our documentation.
What does the insurance cover?
We are insured under Certain Underwriters at Lloyds Pet Care Insurance. Insurance covers any personal property in our care, custody, and control (including pets) up to $1,000,000. Sparky Steps managers, members, and employees are covered under this insurance. For more information please contact us.
Are your walkers background checked?
Yes, applicants are screened for any felony criminal record or any crimes against people or property. Once hired, walkers are continuously monitored by our background check services company.
How do you hire your walkers?
We hire walkers who love animals and love to do a great job! We conduct a phone interview, in-person interview, phone number confirmation, and background check clear confirmations. We look for pet related work experience, we give them a 30 day probation period, we review our policies and procedures, our walking handbook and make sure they pass a background check. Our team is trustworthy. We hire walks that fit the Sparky Steps culture. We do maintain an incident report log and frequently review even the smallest of occurrences to make sure we are following policy and procedure.
How do I get feedback on how the walk or visit goes?
All of our customers get a log in/ password information to DoTimely.com where they can log in and see notes from the walkers on how the visit or walk went with your pet! All you need to access to a computer or smartphone! You get an email when your walker has started the walk and when your walker has ended the walk. This includes any pictures or comments left by your walker and GPS tracking. Please keep in mind that the GPS tracking may glitch at times due to urban areas and high rises.
If I refer a friend, is there a bonus for me?
Yes! We are a young company looking to grow and are counting on your referrals! If you refer a new certified client to us, we will give you a referral gift!
What is a certified client?
A client who chooses to sign up with us after we have conducted the initial “Meet and Greet!”
What neighborhoods do you serve?
For dog walking we currently serve the following neighborhoods: Lakeview, Uptown, Wicker Park, Humboldt Park, Buck Town, and West Town. If you’re near those neighborhoods we may be able to accommodate! If your interested in Cat Sitting we serve all of Chicago!
Need Additional Information?
If you cannot find your answer there, then please call or email your question(s) and we will try to respond in a timely manner. We aim to be the Spark in your pet’s world, to take the right Steps toward a bright community, to be the Spark in your best friends Step! Our philosophy is to always put the animal’s needs first. We believe that we do more than just provide animal care. We strive to create a community, but not just any community, a Sparky community!
Our promise is to always treat your pet as one of our own. We don’t just walk your pets, we step with them!#SparkySteps #SparkAndBark #PetsAreTheBest #AdoptShelterAnimals #AlwaysTreatWithLove #TheBestPetSittingService #DogWalkers #CatSitters #Chicago #Illinois #USA #HashTag