When operating a business (including your pet sitting or dog walking business) - it’s incredibly important to keep all of your “legal ducks” in a row. This means you need to have a strong service agreement and to be very vigilant in getting your clients to accept your terms.
As always when reviewing service agreements or legal documents - we like to preface our discussion with some advice. There is no substitute for consulting a legal professional when creating legal documents. We highly recommend having a lawyer review your service agreements or create them for you. Time To Pet is not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.
Now that is out of the way, let’s talk about the different types of agreements many pet sitting and dog walking business utilize.
The Standard Service Agreement
First up is your standard service agreement. This is the primary document you will have all clients review and sign. Your service agreement outlines all of the different terms that you require clients agree to before they can become a customer. The main purpose of the service agreement is to set expectations for your clients, to outline your policies and to protect you, your team and your business.
Service Agreements can vary from business to business depending on the type of services you provide and where you provide them (as well as the personal style of your lawyer or the person creating your agreement). To help you get started - here is a sample Service Agreement you can review. As always, this is just for your reference and should not be copied. We also strongly recommend consulting with a legal professional when creating your own service agreement.
The Vet Release Form
The next agreement many pet sitters and dog walkers utilize is a vet release form. The purpose of this document is to provide you authorization to seek medical treatment for a pet in your care, to outline who is responsible for the cost of that treatment (your client) and if there is a maximum amount that can be spent for veterinary care.
A good vet release form will allow your client to identify their preferred vet (or vets) but also gives you the ability to seek medical care from any vet if the primary vet is not available. We have a sample Vet Release Form you can review as well. Just like with the service agreement - this is for educational purposes only and we highly recommend consulting with a legal professional when creating your vet release form.
The Key Handling Form
The purpose of your key handling form is to identify your procedures for managing your client keys and to have them authorize your ability to manage their keys. If your business does not keep client keys on file - you may still consider utilizing a key handling form but it is probably less important than for a company that retains all keys.
We have a sample Key Handling Form you can review as well. As stated before - this is just for educational purposes. You would also want a legal professional to help you create the key handling form for your business.
The Payment Authorization Form
Similar to the key handling form, your payment authorization form should detail your payment policies and allow your clients to identify their preferred payment method (if you give them multiple options). If your business is one that requires a credit card on file or if you will be processing payments for your client - you should include all of that verbiage on this form. Don’t forget to also get your client’s authorization here.
As you probably guessed, we have a sample Payment Authorization Form you can review as well! As with all of our sample agreements, this form should not be copied and we recommend consulting with a legal professional to generate this form.
Dependent on your business, you may want to group all of these agreements into one master agreement. You may also require your clients to complete other types of agreements (like a separate limitation of liability agreement or a group walking release form for example). You’ll also want to create some intake forms for clients to provide the relevant information you need to collect about them and their pets.
Many pet sitting software systems (like Time To Pet) allow you to add an “Agreement” to your client portal where you can require clients review your terms and e-sign them. This is in addition to custom client and pet fields where your customers can upload all of their information.
Managing service agreements is probably not why you started your pet sitting business but they are an important part of it. Be sure to take your time, get legal advice from a trained legal professional and be vigilant in getting your customers to sign your agreements before providing services.