My house is up for sale, and people keep letting my cats out every time the house is shown. Any suggestions?
Yep. Take responsibility for your own pets. It is a poor and irresponsible policy to expect other people to take care of them. When I show up to inspect a house, people often tell mesternlynot to let their pets out. I then give them this standard speech:
“I can barely catch my 6-year-old daughter. There’s no chance I could catch a four-legged creature with a head start. What’s more, I won’t even try, because even if I caught the beast, it would probably scratch me or bite me.”
At this point, folks often ask me, well, what do you expect me to do with them? As if I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, as if I ought to become their Personal Responsibility Advisor. Sheesh.
I love animals, I really do, but I take my responsibilities very seriously. So, rather than commit to years of poop scooping, vet visits and obedience training, I keep fish for pets. They clean up their own poop, if you know what I mean. If they die, the other fish recycle ’em. They stay in a pond. If they get out, they learn a hard lesson.
I hate to sound cold-blooded, but people who come to your house on business have no incentive to become foster parents for your animals. I have consulted my attorney on this. He says if an animal escapes and meets an ugly fate on my watch, I’d only be liable for the difference between the fair market value of the animal immediately before the accident and immediately afterhard currency. No compensation for all the happy memories of pitching Frisbee with ChiChi the wonder dawg.
Let’s just say I open the back door, somebody’s 14-year-old Chihuahua darts from his little plaid nest by the recliner, and goes chasing after a squirrel. Let’s say he catches the squirrel, and the squirrel kicks his butt good and leaves him in a coma. If I take the blame for the whole deal, I’m out less than a dollar. Case closed.
Seriously, the best thing to do with pets is lock ’em up when strangers are going to be in the house. Get one of those swell crates that people use to fly animals, or keep the pets on a run in the backyard. Do not lock animals up in the laundry room or the garage. Prospective home buyers, real estate agents and home inspectors will need to go in those places.
My Realtor friend Sandra says she has coaxed dogs back into houses with treats, dug cats out of woodpiles, and administered first aid to one severely bitten buyer, all in a stalwart effort to be a versatile and caring real estate professional. But, she says, one day it just hit her that pet-sitting was not part of her job description. Now when she opens a door and a cat darts out into the yard, she leaves the door cracked as long as she’s at the house, and if the puss doesn’t come home before it’s time for her to leave, she sticks a big Post-It Note on the front door:
COULD NOT FIND
One more time: Asking people to be carefulor even threatening them with nightmarish repercussions if your pets get outwill not ensure a happy fate. In fact, putting other people in charge of your pet life can have ugly results.
Consider this local real estate tale: A Realtor showed a house to a young couple while the owners were not home. (This is the usual way to sell a housebuyers need to be able to envision themselves living in the house. Crashing in while the homeowners are eating Pop-Tarts and yelling at Geraldo kinda ruins the setting.) He finished the showing and was in the process of locking up the house when he saw a big sign on the door: Do NOT let the white cat OUT! So, when he looked down and saw the white cat sitting on the porch, he shooed the puss into the house, locked the front door, and went on his way. When the owners came home, every piece of furniture in their house was shredded.
Not their white cat.
Walter Jowers can be reached at Walter.Jowers@nashville.com.