The debate over accepting pets in vacation rentals continues….
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Over the past few years we have written and produced many articles, downloads and videos about accepting pets at your vacation rental property and if you have read any of them you will know that Heather and I are dog owners and we advocate that VR owners welcome the furry members of your guests family to your property.
I wanted to step out from behind the tech-side of the website and to write my first article for Cottageblogger.com and share my thoughts on the subject as I feel very passionately about this.
I have been following some of the comments in different groups on LinkedIN and this is becoming a very hot topic that many feel strongly about.
There was a great article in the HomeAway community area called ‘The Pros and Cons of Accepting Pets at Your Vacation Rental’ that covers many of the issues that we as VR owners and Property Managers may be concerned with. At the end of the day we are balancing risk with benefit. Accepting pets will open bookings to a much wider audience but there is the issue of cleaning, allergies, noise and damage.
In my experience, the only reason not to accept pets is whether or not your property is appropriate for pets and if you as an owner are willing to not only accept pets but welcome them. If your property is in a condo building, on a no-dog beach in Florida, and you have family members who like to use the property that have allergies to pets, then it is probably not worth it. However if this same condo building was close to a great dog park, a short drive to a provincial/state or national park that has great trails that allow leashed pets, and you already have your own pets that are allowed in the unit, then maybe you should consider it.
I have already mentioned that the main issues to not accept pets is cleaning, allergies, noise and damage but all of these can easily be curtailed by including extra clause (pun intended) in your Terms and Conditions of Rental. Again, HomeAway have a great example of the conditions you might want to consider including in your agreement with your guests.
Some headings to consider include:
Type of Pets
Age of Pet
Spay or Neutered
Max # of Pets
Local Ordinance and HOA Policies
Pet Waste Cleanup
However, if you make your conditions too restrictive you might also be turning away many possible bookings and you are then accepting pets and not welcoming them. This will lead guests into a false sense of how they will enjoy their vacation with their pet only to find that they are too restricted.
We have found one of the best ways to ensure that your pet requirements are followed is that when your guests arrive, ensure that you welcome the pets in the same warm manner as you would your human guests. This might include a welcome pack and welcome letter focused on the pet. The owners will see how much effort you have gone to, to welcome the member of the family who is almost always forgotten. After all if they have brought them all that way and probably paid an extra fee, then the pets in the family tend to be well loved and of high importance to their owners.
Here's a few suggestions to making your property pet friendly:
Write a welcome letter to the pet. This is a gentle yet effective way of reminding your guests about issues they may not be aware of in bringing a pet to a cottage (See the Pet Letter in the download library)
Provide two dog bowls (this prevents guests using general kitchen bowls for dog food and water)
Have a basket by the door with a couple of old towels for wiping feet
Provide a dog tag that has your cottage telephone number and address. Something like “I am a guest at Osprey Cottage — 123 Lake Road — 705-778-1111”. Include a note on your cleaning checklist to ensure they leave the tag on departure. This will help ensure your guests four legged friend is returned to them should he/she take an accidental walk off your propert
Leave a small bag of specialty dog treats as a welcome gift (this is one of the value added services that guests remember for a long time!)
Make a list of local vets and their hours of working, in your cottage guide. Check first they will accept new emergency patients. Find the number of your nearest 24 hour emergency vet service and include that too.
Make sure your guests know the boundaries of your property. Neighbour complaints about renter pets wandering onto their property often occur because renters are not sure of the property lines.
Buy a poop scooper from a pet store and leave it in a handy place along with a supply of plastic bags
Have a garden hose handy outside for feet cleaning or general washing. Lets face it — our pets love to roll in stuff and if you've ever experienced the whiff of bear poo on retriever fur, you'll know what I mean.
Leave a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, a couple of pairs of latex gloves and a bucket, along with instructions for dealing with a skunk attack along with instructions should your guest pet meet some of the local wildlife.