Providing pets with the proper care and attention is often a challenge, but it can be even more so for those who live alone.  What to do when you go out of town? Or perhaps more commonly, when you work a 10-12 hour day?  How do you keep both your pets and your neighbors happy?

Following are a few resources that may help.

Hired Help

Professional Pet Sitters:  Whether you need someone to walk your dog, feed your cat or change the water in your fish bowl, there is someone willing to do the job.  Most community bulletin boards have multiple ads posted by local folks who provide such services on a part-time or full-time basis.  Keep in mind, however, that there is no licensing requirement for pet service providers, so it is up to you to check out an applicants experience and ability.  Here is a website link to one organization that is committed to furthering professionalism among their ranks.

Boarding Kennels
are nothing new, but the facilities, staff experience and fees can vary widely.  If you are frequently gone for several days at a time, it may be worth your time and effort to find one you trust.  Be sure to immunize your pet against communicable diseases such as "kennel cough", which can pose a real threat in even the best facilities.

Friends, Family, and Neighbors
can be life savers but remember that they are not professionals, and if they are unpaid help, your expectations probably need to be lower.

Veterinary Care
Finding good veterinary care for your pets can be as perplexing as finding good medical care for yourself. 

Proximity is often the first consideration.  After all, transporting your pet can be very challenging, particularly when they are injured or feeling unwell, so the closer the care facility is, the better.

Reputation is relatively easy to determine by asking neighbors about their experiences.  You can also ask the veterinarian himself/herself for a list of references.  Or search the internet for blog entries relating good and not-so-good experiences with particular vets.

Fees.  It can be difficult to assess whether a particular veterinarian charges more or less than his/her contemporaries.  You can ask to see a list of common fees and do some "comparison shopping", but you will probably be just as concerned about the quality of care in relation to the charges.  One important variable is a vet's proclivity to recommend additional procedures, prescriptions, etc. beyond the minimal treatment.  Ideally, s/he will outline all your options, including the pros, cons and costs involved in each.

Emergency Care. 
Many veterinarian offices do not provide after-hours emergency care, so it's a good idea to check out the local animal hospitals before you actually need one.  Minimally, you should know their locations and what type of services they provide.

Online assistance.  You may find the resources you need on the web for some simple or puzzling situations.  Here is a link to a site that provides free, "live" assistance from licensed veterinarians.

Pet Containment

It has been said that "good fences make good neighbors."  This is especially true when pets are involved.  If you don't like the look or expense of traditional fencing options (e.g. wood, chainlink, etc.) you may want to check into electronic fencing.  I recommend the professionals at Invisible Fence Northwest.  I have used their products and services for years, very successfully, with my two dogs. You can buy less expensive kits in pet stores, but I find that the training is the real key to success, and that isn't available in a kit. 

Tethering or chaining your pet.  Follow this link for an explanation as to why this is not a good option.

Local Pet Ordinances
(Information in this section is excerpted from the City of Seattle Animal Control website.)

Seattle has a "leash law!"

The law states that it is unlawful for any owner of a domestic animal, except cats and pigeons, to allow it to run at large, but that pets may be removed from the premises of the owner if restrained by a leash that is eight feet or shorter, and if in physical control of a person.

Click here for a list of Seattle's Off-Leash Areas.

There is no leash law on cats

But it is unlawful for any owner to allow their cat to damage the private property of another or be a threat to public peace, health or safety. If you have a problem with stray or wild cats on your property, please call the Seattle Animal Shelter at 386-PETS(7387) for advice on the best way to handle your situation.

Click here for more information on being a responsible cat owner.

Seattle has a noise ordinance that includes barking dogs

If you are bothered by a continual howl of a chronic barker you should first, speak to the dog owner and let him/her know that you are disturbed by the barking. Try to work out a solution in a neighborly manner. Offer suggestions or alternatives which might reduce the noise. Allow the pet owner a little time to work out a solution. If the problem persists, call the Seattle Animal Shelter with the address of the owner, a description of the dog, the location of the dog on its property, and the time of day when the dog barks excessively. When the barking continues, your next course of action is through the municipal court system.