If you’re preparing to head out of town for spring break and “find pet care” is still on your to-do list, you can find a service to fill that need in Evanston.

In-home supervision and round-the-clock boarding are both available for your animal — whether it’s a poodle, a parrot, a ragdoll kitten or a chameleon.

Customized care and one-on-one attention are the advantages of in-home pet care, according to Barb Herman, owner of Pet Watchers, which she says is the North Shore’s oldest in-home pet care service.

“Animals can get very focused care with an in-home service.” Herman says. “It’s especially helpful if they’re older or have special needs.”

Susan Gilkey of Evanston, a Pet Watchers client since 1985, says she relies on in-home care and wouldn’t have it any other way. “When I go out of town, there is tremendous comfort in knowing that my animals are well taken care of by people I trust,” says Gilkey. “I think being home is much better for them.”

In-home pet care providers routinely do in-and-out visits that include daily feedings, walks and the administering of medications. Many offer taxi service to grooming and veterinary appointments while owners are away, as well as overnight stays by staffers.

While the focus of Evanston’s in-home pet care services is primarily dogs and cats, caregivers are generally willing to attend to additional pets in the home as well, including fish, birds, most reptiles, hamsters and other small animals.

Susan Forte, owner of Heaven Sent Pet Care And Dog Walking, says that, on occasion, they’ve cared for as many as eight pets in one household. “Clients give us extremely detailed care instructions for every pet, and we take it from there.”

An added benefit to having in-home pet care while on vacation is the built-in house sitting that comes along with it. In addition to caring for animals, Evanston’s in-home pet caregivers will water plants and help maintain a home’s ‘lived-in’ look by bringing in mail and newspapers, rotating blinds or drapes, and alternating lights as needed for added security.

Trustworthy staff
Longtime Heaven Sent client Patti Wolter of Evanston says it’s important to get a good reference and do your research when it comes to selecting any in-home pet care service. “A friend whose opinion I trust referred me to Heaven Sent,” Wolter says. “When Susan came to meet me and my new puppy, Chester, to talk about managing his care, I knew it would be a good fit.”

Forte stresses the importance of knowing an in-home pet provider’s hiring practices before making a decision.

“Before our caregivers are on the job, we want to know that they are trustworthy, skilled and have an intuitive sense about all different types of dogs,” says Forte.

Herman agrees.  “In addition to being comfortable and experienced with different kinds of animals, our staff members must have a deep respect for our clients and their homes,” Herman says. “Our clients are handing us the keys to their houses, and we take that very seriously.”

In-home pet care services are often members of professional associations including NAPPS (The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) and PSI (Pet Sitters International) that provide certification and continuing education for pet care providers.

Top: Detail of an image from the Pet Watchers website. Above: Thee Fish Bowl on Dempster Street.

24/7 boarding
PetSmart’s PetsHotel at 2221 Oakton St. offers the only round-the-clock boarding accommodations for cats and dogs in Evanston.

Supervisor Juan Sandoval says PetsHotel offers a play area for cats as well as Doggie Day Camp where dogs can romp and play during the day.

“We separate the dogs by size,” Sandoval explains. “They’re housed in three separate play areas so they can play more compatibly with each other.

Sandoval says PetsHotel offers standard Atrium Rooms for overnight stays, including bed, food and water, as well as the more premium Private Dog Suite which provides all the necessities along with a larger space and a television.

Evanston pet store Thee Fish Bowl, at 600 Dempster St., offers round-the-clock boarding for small animals such as hamsters and ferrets, as well as lizards and fish.

“We board the same types of pets that we carry in our store,” says store manager Leslie Hurrt. “We have all the supplies needed to care for our boarding animals, and we can attend to any special needs as well.”

Christy Lichtfuss of Fox Animal Hospital, at 2107 Crawford Ave., says that while first priority goes to their patients, they will accept cats for boarding if space permits and the boarders are up-to-date on their vaccines.

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