Business Policies

NorthStar Pet Services P-O-V

I come from a place with an informed, strong point-of-view, so this may either make my services all-the-more appealing or save you some time!

I provide services to Positive Training households only.  I don't provide services to households using electronic containment or slip, prong, electronic, aversion-style collars or any aversion methods.

Minimum Visit Policy: For out-of-town clients, I maintain a minimum standard of two visits per calendar day for cats and small animals, and a minimum of three visits per calendar day for dogs. 

▪ I provide services for warm-blooded, indoor-only pets.

▪ I do not provide overnight services.

▪ If a pet is aggressive or has specialized needs I feel I cannot provide for, I'll not be able to provide services.

NorthStar Pet has a no jerks policy. I love what I do, so if you behave in a way that tries to make me love what I do less, I have no time for you. If you are not truthful, I have no time for you. If your behavior and the choices you make attempt to distract, control, disrupt, oppress, humiliate, de-energize, endanger, belittle, or pull me into your misery, drama, or trifling ways, I have no time for you.  

▪ Prices subject to change with notice.

▪ Payment by invoice, in-full, via cash, check, Venmo, Zelle, postmarked or transacted within 7 calendar days after services provided.  You'll come home to find a stamped, business reply envelope with your invoice, so timely payment won't be difficult.

▪ If service is suspended due to slow payment and/or non-payment, if the business relationship continues, prepayment for services from that point forward is required.

▪ Life happens. So, I have a pretty easy-going policy regarding cancellations, so far no one has taken advantage of that.

▪ $35 fee on all returned checks.

My Point-of-View

NorthStar Pet reserves the right to use reasoned discretion when caring for your pets.

As a compassionate professional, I maintain a level of expertise; I am constantly expanding my field of knowledge reading, learning, and finding new ways to reach, understand, and care for pets. 

I also mean what I say and say what I mean - it's part of my charm! So, NorthStar Pet Services is going to reflect my point-of-view on animals, client relationships, professionalism, business management, and animal care.

I care for my pet clients (and keep watch on their homes; your homes) as if they were mine, so my services are informed by my views.

I want clients and potential clients to know up front that I respect and honor their love for their pets. And with that, so you can make an informed decision, I have a few specific beliefs and opinions that inform the quality of service I provide.

I have awesome clients, that I adore, yet I am not an "all the news that fits" service provider, and I don't accept any client just because they contacted NorthStar Pet.

I don't tell people what I think they want to hear, and I am fully aware and accept that my services may not be a fit for all potential clients.

Time and Change

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. [Maya Angelou]

Electronic Collars, Correction, Containment, and Safety.

The more you have to use physical force to control life, you lose control of life. [Cesar Millan]

Since, I won't knowingly inflict stress, discomfort, and pain, I personally don't believe in using aversion to train or contain a dog (or any animal).  

Why would a pet owner want to hurt a member of the family who implicitly trusts them to keep them safe? 

This is science. Dogs are who they are, each and every moment - there is only now. Reason and respond, don't react. Encourage, don't compel. Build trust. Encouragement sometimes is the long way home instead of the shortcut, but in the long run, is better for you and your pet - and truer to your natures.  

NorthStar Pet provides services for positive training/reinforcement households only. No households using electronic containment, aversion, fear, prong collars, slip/choker collars, electronic collars, or punishment. 

Remember the "Thral" and Spock's Brain episodes of Star Trek where our Enterprise heroes were held captive and corrected by electronic containment? I know, right?

When you decide on electronic containment or training, you are choosing to run electrical current or sound through your dog's body to the point of pain. You can, in the process, also disrupt heart rhythm, brain chemistry, and body functions, not to mention inflict psychological damage. Once you lose trust, your relationship with your dog may never be the same. No matter the aversion method, when is any level of pain acceptable? 

And, an electronic collar on a dog does not stop an interaction with wildlife, nor will it keep unwelcome, very mean people from entering your property, nor will it work in a power outage. Wearing an electronic collar can actually endanger your pet more because it limits their ability to run away from danger, defend themselves, and stay safe.

Step away from the sales pitch, expense, and illogic, with real reason, and with your heart, really think. Is electronic containment and correction about you or about your dog? (Hint: It's not about your dog.) 

For a myriad of reasons (including science and seeing an electronic collar system malfunction and cause discomfort and stress for dogs, not once, but twice, and in different households), I don't agree with the use of electronic correction and containment for dogs.

I encourage you to do your own research.

We know so much more now. And, pet care standards are changing. There are too many safe, viable alternatives that will enrich the relationship you have with your dog, including training with consistent reinforcement, traditional fencing, and walking your dog on a leash. 

Please be open to letting go of old school ideas of training and interacting with pets. You don't need aversion to train a pet.

Need help? Ask me, I know two excellent non-aversion, positive dog trainers that I can recommend.

I can also recommend an excellent animal communicator. 

Having a pet in your life is rewarding beyond measure, but it's also real, messy, occasionally inconvenient, and time-consuming. Having a dog is pretty much like having a child. When they are in their senior years, the level of care you'll provide your dog will also change. You've got to be willing to fully commit to the experience and that experience will be, on average, a 12 to 15-plus year commitment - there are no short cuts. 

If you are currently using aversion, I ask you to reflect and reconsider. If you are considering getting a pet and plan to use aversion, I also ask you to reflect and reconsider, or forgo even getting a pet at all - you can always play with dogs and kitties at your local shelter or rescue facility, instead, so you have the pet contact and no one gets hurt.

This has been a process even for me. I used to provide services in households with electronic containment; then I saw what happens when a collar malfunctions. When it came to providing services in households choosing aversion methods with their dogs, I started saying "not on my watch," but now, after a great deal of thought, I have decided that I will not provide services to a potential client who uses electronic containment or aversion methods or prong/choker slip-style collars.

Victoria Stilwell on electronic fences: Just click or tap here

Victoria Stilwell on shock collars: Just click or tap here.

The Pet Professional Guild on shock collars: Just tap or click here. 

Trainer Karen Pryor explains electronic containment: Just tap or click here.

Victoria Stilwell on prong and choker collars: Just tap or click here.

I am a proponent of harnesses over collars. (Collars are convenient for tags. A dog pulling on a neck collar when leashed can do throat and tracheal damage.)  There are a number of effective harnesses on the market, and I've found the Easy Walk harness (where the leash attaches to a ring on a chest strap) has proven easy to fit, easy to use, and successful for both dog and human. And, it looks good - both humans and dogs like the look. 

With any dog that I've put this harness on, had I not known ahead of time they were a "puller," I never would have known at all - they just walk calmly and they walk proud, no tension on the leash at all (a loose or relaxed leash walk).  If your dog pulls, and you don't intend to train them not to, the Easy Walk is a good choice. There is also a custom fit harness that comes in three sections (modules) called Perfect Fit. (I've tried Freedom Harness and am not a big fan.)

And, the Easy Walk harness has proven to be helpful during puppy training.

By its fit, the Easy Walk seems to say to a dog, "This is what TO DO," instead of what NOT TO DO (so they can avoid pain) and they just know immediately.

Around here, if you go the bricks-and mortar-shopping route, the Easy Walk runs between $20 and $30 depending on the size (the best prices I've found locally are at Pet Supplies Plus). Amazon has them for about half the price (most qualify for Amazon's Super Saver Shipping) if you want to order online. 

I don't recommend the Gentle Leader halter/harness because it puts too much pressure on the intricate and extensive nerve system in a dog's nose.
(The Easy Walk is made by PetSafe. I do not endorse PetSafe as a whole, since they also make and market aversion-based containment. If less and less people use aversion, then hopefully that division of PetSafe will cease to exist down the road.)  

Please note: When you are working with a dog who is a puller, the Easy Walk straps may need to be repositioned for fit from time-to-time.

With all that said, training a dog to walk on a relaxed leash is preferrable in the long-run. 

A Note About "Declawing" 

The practice of elective onychectomy (amputating the first joint of a cat's toes, often referred to under the misnomer 'declawing') is unnecessary major surgery that is not in any way beneficial to the cat. 

It's not a routine thing to do as part of sharing space with a cat. And, you know, going-in, when you adopt a cat, they need a place to stretch and sharpen their claws. They're cats. We know more now. It's time for this to stop. 

In February, 2020, both Banfield and VCA announced they no longer provide elective declawing. (See the link below for more information.)

It is banned, globally, in 28 countries. In the United States, it is banned in New York, and California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are considering similar bans. The cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles have banned declawing. There are a growing number of veterinary practices that do not declaw as policy, including Banfield and VCA.

If you are planning on this, and haven't done this yet, please do some more research and reconsider.

There are a wide variety of options available from cat trees to flat cardboard scratchers. Training a cat to sharpen their claws in approved spaces is quite simple, no matter the cat's age - you just need to let them know where it's okay to scratch.

A lot of pet owners are still learning. If a cat is mature and has already experienced the procedure, and especially if you've adopted a cat who was already declawed, NorthStar Pet provides services, but will not otherwise.

Just please don't.

More information:

New York bans Declawing, Just tap or click here.

Dr. Jean Hofve, provides details on Declawing via Little Big Cat, Just tap or click here.

Banfield and VCA no longer provide elective declawing, Just tap or click here

Learn more about The Paw Project, Just tap or click here.

It's a Wild World...

Keeping a watchful awareness... in Central Ohio we share our space with a selection of free roaming suburban critters, including skunks and coyotes. 

On January 10, 2014, I had a coyote encounter while visiting a pet client - the coyote was just passing by, on its way, across a field, from a thicket to a creek, and wanted no part of Sam the bichon and I, but there we all were looking at each other! (Sam and I were in his fenced-in yard and we moved on, so the coyote could move on as well.) 

A simple precaution for critter avoidance would be to maintain a high awareness, especially, at dawn and dusk; leave your cats indoors, and if your dog needs to go out, just go out with them.

And, there was a time in Westerville when everyone left their doors open and their cars unlocked, but times have changed, and we can't do that anymore - the AKC says dog theft is up 32% across the country.  People will just take (as in steal) dogs from yards (and not to keep as pets of their own). Burglars will no longer pass up taking (dog fighting bait, to sell) or hurting the family pet when they break into a home.

Daily Visit Minimums

As I mentioned, NorthStar Pet's interest is entirely in your pet's welfare.

Our pets are our companions and require human interaction to thrive, especially when their families are not home.

For out-of-town clients, I maintain a minimum standard of two visits per calendar day for cats and small animals, and a minimum of three visits per calendar day for dogs.  

As a guide, my recommendation for dogs is 4.5 to 5 hours between visits until bedtime. I also recommend mirroring a workday, so your daily routine (therefore your dogs daily routine) informs vist frequency. All of my current out-of-town clients book four visits per day (one of those visits is early morning and one of those visits is at bedtime); a couple clients make one visit a short visit (15 minutes). 

There can be exceptions to this policy, entirely case-by-case: 1) If I know the client well, and I am backing up a friend, neighbor, or family member who is also checking on the pet and communicating with me. 2) And, only with cats, if I am taking over for a previous pet sitter, and one visit a day is what the cat is used to, I may roll with one visit a day.  

There are just two types of visits: 1) A standard visit (30 minutes) and 2) A short visit (15 minutes). The point of a 15 minute visit is to attend to potty needs (can include a brief walk), medication, and attention. 
As far as number of animals per household - we'll deal with that case-by-case. If you have more than two dogs, and they have access to a secured yard to go outside, current pricing can apply. If there are more than two dogs and walks are required, it would defy the laws of time and space to provide quality services within 30 minutes, so additional charges will apply. 

Some pet households, especially multiple pet households, in spite of our efforts will not realistically qualify for a 15 minute Short Visit.  NorthStar Pet reserves the right to use discretion to manage reality and decide up front on whether or not the needs of a household visit would qualify. We'll talk.

NorthStar Pet includes a one visit price (along with the 15 minute Short Visit) for days that you are 1) in-town, 2) are home part of the day before you leave town or return, or 3) out-of-town and want a mix of single visits (minimums apply) and a quick check-in at some other point in the day.

Indoor Pets Only

NorthStar Pet provides pet sitting services for indoor pets only.

My belief: Dogs and cats should live indoors. Cats, especially, in spite of myth and misunderstanding, do not have a special need to be outside - they are perfectly happy, vastly safer, and will be with you longer, spending their whole lives indoors.

I have two cats; they were abandoned by a neighbor in a very sad perfect storm situation. Both were neglected and on the outer edge of feral and are used to being outside, and it took months to build trust, but they became indoor cats at their own pace. I worked with a communicator to explain their new lifestyle and put up a cat enclosure on the patio. The enclosure is a success, so something to consider.

Pebble in a pond - letting your cat roam is only about you and not about your cat. You not only expose your cat to more dangers, but should your wandering cat be hit by a vehicle, you not only may lose your beloved pet, but also end up altering the life of that driver, or the neighbor who finds your dead cat before you do, forever. For what purpose? 

It is a solid financial decision to keep your cat at home.

I consider confinement in a garage or basement outdoors - so indoors means in the dwelling or house - the places where you live.

Discretion on Providing Services to a Client

Before we even talk, know this: The Complimentary Meet and Greet is for the benefit of both You, the potential client, and NorthStar Pet Services.  NorthStar Pet Services reserves the right to refuse a client if a pet is exotic, seriously ill, aggressive, or if there are more pets in a household than I feel comfortable caring for; in these circumstances, you’ll require a more specialized type of professional care. 

Well Being

If, for any reason, a pet environment is not in the best interest of the pet, NorthStar Pet Services doesn't hesitate to communicate with the appropriate animal protection and advocacy resources.

Natural and Unforeseen Circumstances & Emergencies for our Pets

Don't like the weather?  You're in Ohio, wait 5 minutes!!

Ohio’s unpredictable winters can affect NorthStar Pet Services’ ability to provide services. NorthStar Pet Services will reach your pets in a Level 1 and Level 2 snow emergency.

NorthStar Pet checked with law enforcement, and if a Level 3 snow emergency is declared for your county, a back-up care plan (neighbors, family, friends) will need to be in place.In the event of a natural or human-made disaster or emergency, it is up to each client to have a plan in place.  Keep in mind, that even though we know our pets are family, sadly, the reality right now is that many "official" storm shelters (like Red Cross) do not, as a rule, accept family pets, just service dogs. So, it is strongly advisable to have a plan in place (hopefully a plan that you'll never have to implement) way ahead of time.

And, NorthStar Pet Services has a contingency notice plan for another pet sitter to be notified if NorthStar Pet Services cannot provide service due to an emergency or other unforeseen circumstance.

To learn more, here is a link to the AKC Disaster Preparedness webpage.

Updated 1.27.22.