THE OTHER PART OF THE STORY

TrustedHousesitters—the app I was using when I was refused entry to the US—won’t update their advice for international house sitting.

The company continues to say it’s OK for their paying members to house sit on a tourist-type visa (e.g. ESTA) because they “don’t regard house sitting as work”.

In their opinion, what happened to me was all a “misunderstanding” because US immigration didn’t get “the concept of house sitting”.

Hi. I’m Madolline.
And I’m seeing the world One cat at a time

I’ve decided to do another frequently asked questions post after reading people’s comments on social media.

Most people *still* believe I get paid to house and cat sit—I don’t. And a lot of people who read the CNBC Make It story assume my airfare is paid for. It’s not (unfortunately). These things aside, people seem genuinely curious about what house sitting looks like and what they can expect from it. The answers I’ve provided are from my house and cat sitting experiences, but that doesn’t mean every sit will be like this.

Where can I find a house sit?

There’s quite a few house and pet sitting websites out there. TrustedHousesitters is the one I use the most, but I can also vouch for Aussie House Sitters and House Sitters America.

Do you need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to get a house sit?

I’m going to say you don’t have to be vaccinated, but it’s probably in your best interest to have received at least two shots. A lot of owners will only consider applications from sitters who are vaccinated and some owners might even ask for proof of vaccination before inviting you into their home.

Do you work while you’re house and cat sitting?

Most of my sits are taken in between contract jobs. That means I’m free to do as I please while house and cat sitting.

Why would the owner get a sitter from Australia?

I don’t think it matters that I live in Australia when I’m prepared to travel to them.

Do you meet the owner before the sit starts?

Most times, yes. I can only think of one time when I didn’t meet the owner in person. We did, however, do a video call in the weeks leading up to my arrival.

Are you ever in the house at the same time as the owner?

Yes. You might arrive at the property hours before the owner heads off. This has never been a problem for me and it gives us the opportunity to go over everything in person.

Sometimes the owner will let you stay a night or two before the sit starts, or after it ends. I may have found this arrangement a little weird (not sure ‘weird’ the right word) the first time, but I’m so grateful to be able to stay an extra night.

Is the sitter expected to contribute to utility bills?

I’ve never been asked to pay for things like electricity, gas or water, and I think it’s wrong of the owner to ask. You’re saving them a lot of money by looking after their pet. My advice would be to steer clear of sits like this.

Can I bring my own pet along on the sit?

I think it’s a bit odd to have your pet accompany you on a sit because you’re probably there to look after someone else’s pet. Some owners might allow it—it doesn’t hurt to ask.

What if you run out of pet food before the sit ends?

Try to communicate with the owner before this happens so you can organise for more pet food to be delivered or purchased. You might need to pay for the food initially, but the owner will—or should—reimburse you.

What if you break something or something breaks on you?

I can’t recall ever breaking anything, but, if I did, I would let the owner know as soon as possible.

The only thing I’ve ever had die on me during a sit was a pedestal fan. I let the owners know and we agreed that I’d buy a new one for them with the emergency money they’d left for me.

Other questions

There’s no way I can think of every possible question a would-be sitter might have, but I’ve tried my best to cover off on the things I think they’d like to know about. Please comment—or email me—if there’s something else you’d like answered. Your question(s) may have even been answered in my original FAQs post.

5 Comments

  1. Carmen

    Thanks so much for your blog as I am planning a Canada/US trip next year and coming from Australia think cat sitting will be a good way for me to save money but fill the gap of getting my cat fixed

    If you ever want to check out Albany in Western Australia you are welcome to look after my cats

    Reply
    • Madolline Gourley

      House and cat sitting is definitely the way to go! I’ll be off to Canada (house/cat sitting, of course) at the end of the month.

      Reply
  2. Josh

    I read about your recent interaction with shit people from the US. As a US citizen, I want to apologize. It doesn’t help, but I promise we aren’t all as disgusting as the minority that has taken control lately. If you are ever in Ohio, let me know-I’d live to find a way to help you out on your travels. If you never go through Ohio, I don’t blame you…

    Reply
  3. Eric Whittaker

    Hey Madolline! I hope everything is going well with you. I created a TikTok (the.lit.teacher) and wanted to know how everything is going? After reading about your interaction with US Customs, I was both disgusted and horrified (which is why I felt the need to share your story).

    I might be able to help you with a complaint process if you’d like. From the most recent media update I read, it sounds like the Australian Embassy is involved, so that’s hopefully going to be a positive for you.

    Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help, or if you just need an impartial 3rd party sounding board.

    PS Here’s the link to the video if you’re interested: https://www.tiktok.com/@the.lit.teacher/video/7119902768545975598?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7080784160532497962

    Reply
    • Madolline Gourley

      Thank you so much! The Australian embassy/consulate in Los Angeles said to contact the US Embassy in Australia. The US Embassy sent me here:
      https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip

      I haven’t applied for ‘redress’ (yet) because I thought going public with the ordeal made more sense than to submit an online form back to the agency who deported me in the first place.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *