It will be the middle of the summer soon and you will want to get out of the heat on vacation with your family. But what to do with the furry members of your family? Neighbors and friends can be unreliable — and who wants to leave their best friend in a kennel?

A professional pet sitter can be the answer. As the owner of a pet care business for more than 10 years, I offer these suggestions for hiring a qualified pet sitter:

• Ask friends with pets, your local groomer or veterinarian to suggest an experienced and qualified professional pet sitter in your area.

• Interview at least three professional pet sitters before hiring. Find out where the sitter lives, how long they have been in business and whether they are bonded and insured.

• Ask for phone references and check them. A qualified sitter will be happy to give them to you.

• Find out if the pet sitter has a back-up sitter in case of emergency.

• If the sitter has employees, make sure you meet the person who will be coming into your home.

• Barbara Drummond is a longtime Ahwatukee Foothills resident and owner of Home Alone Pet Services. She has been training and boarding animals for 25 years. Reach her at (480) 326-6918 or homealone_pet@hotmail.com. For more information, visit www.thehomealonepet.com.

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