Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photographing your pet sitting clients' pets

I take hundreds of photos of the dogs that board at my house. But when it comes to pet sitting visits to my clients’ homes, I don’t feel it is ethical to walk around taking photos. There are ways to go about it without invading the client’s privacy.

It is a great idea to have a photo of the pet in case he gets out and you need to make flyers. The client contact program I use, Bento (made by Filemaker Pro), also allows me to post photos on each client’s page. I realized what a nice feature this was when my turtle vet took photos of my box turtles, Fred and Ethel, and added them to the patient file. Every time I call, they can pull up the photo and immediately remember their clients.

First, ask permission. Ask the client if you can do this, and maybe even bring your camera to the first meeting. Have them help you pose Fido and Fluffy, and then send them the photo later via email. This is a nice reason for follow-up contact after your initial get-together.

You can also post the photos on your web site. Don’t identify any personal information, which is why you shouldn’t include last names or pictures of the furniture or front of the house. Try to get a close-up of just the animal.

Some of my clients enjoy receiving photos via email while out of town. One client asked me to use Skype and set up their dog in front of the computer to say hi! Another asked me to put a live webcam in my house so they could check on their dog. Since I board dogs in my home, I decided that was too much information; I don’t want to be on-camera in my own living room! There are limits to customer service!

One time I emailed my client a photo of the wreckage his dogs wrought upon the dog beds during the night. Stuffing everywhere, and two dogs sitting happily in the middle of the room. He got a good laugh out of that one.

A camera is a great and fun tool for a pet sitter to have. Be sure you use it carefully and don’t invade you clients’ privacy.
Photo above: Cleo, a bullmastiff.

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

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