FAQ – Backup

Frequently Asked Questions


Your pet will remain in his familiar, secure environment and he will maintain his normal routine. Pets that are boarded may be exposed to pathogens from other animals, may suffer from excessive noise and over-simulation, and will not receive extensive, personalized care due to the high volume of animals at a boarding facility. At home, your pet will receive lots of attention, cuddles, and belly rubs. In addition to caring for your pets, Woof to Hoof Pet Services will also give your home a “lived-in” look by collecting your mail/newspaper, taking out and bringing in your trash and recycling bins, rotating lights and blinds, and other free home care services. If we discover a problem in your home (gas leak, burst pipe, broken window, etc.), you will be notified immediately and we will work with you to remedy the problem. While some people choose to have a neighbor, friend, or family member stop in to care for their pets, we do this for a living! We will not forget a feeding, fail to notice a health problem due to inexperience, or feel burdened by being asked for a favor.


I have been pet-sitting part time since I was about 15, and began farm sitting in 2010 when my farrier asked me to care for her animals while she went on hiking vacations. She encouraged me to offer my services to more people, since Suffolk is such a rural area and there are many horse and farm owners who rarely take vacations or simply go out to dinner because they don’t have anyone who is willing and capable of caring for their animals. Sharon put the word out that I was a reliable, knowledgable, and conscientious caregiver for both large and small animals, and I began taking on more clients. On April 7th of 2011, my entire life changed. My brother, Lon Bickham, was in a very serious explosion accident and sustained 3rd degree burns to 95% of his body. He was not expected to live. My parents, myself, and Lon’s girlfriend all dropped everything to move to Richmond and keep constant vigil by Lon’s side. For the first 6 months, every hour was critical, and we nearly lost him several times. I did not leave the hospital and lived off of my savings for the first few months. The only times I came home were when Sharon needed me to take care of her animals, and then I went immediately back to Richmond, to VCU Medical Center. While we were all living in Richmond, my mother had arranged for a former student to stay at their house and take care of our horse, two dogs, and cat. For the first few months, it seemed that she was doing a good job, and we had little choice but to trust in her care – we could not and would not leave Lon’s side. Later, when I began spending more time in Suffolk, it became apparent that the animals were not being cared for to an appropriate standard (she lost a cat, for example, and she didn’t notice or notify us that he was missing for several days or make any attempts to find him, contact local agencies, or otherwise facilitate his return.) I arranged for the “sitter” to vacate the house and Matt and I moved in. He lived there continuously while I split my weeks between Richmond and Suffolk, right up to the time when Lon came home from the hospital and later rehabilitation, 19 months later. The experience of absolutely depending on someone else to care for my animals, and then finding that care to be lacking really gave me extra incentive to provide above-and-beyond farm and pet care to more people. I treat your animals as if they were my own – I don’t just throw down food and leave. If there is a problem with your pet, I notify you and we decide together how to address it. I try to leave your house and barn cleaner and neater than I found them, and I go the extra mile to make your animals and you feel as though you never left. For more information about Joanna and the formation of Woof to Hoof Pet Services, visit our About page.


We have cared for: dogs, cats, horses (all equines), cattle, hogs, pot-bellied pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, quail, llama, alpaca, fresh and salt water fish, reptiles, amphibians, parrots and other indoor birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, rats, and hermit crabs! If your animal is not in this list, please email us, as we would be glad to learn about and care for something new!


Individual needs and visits may vary, but in general we: walk/play/cuddle with your pet, feed them and provide fresh water, administer medications when needed, clean litter boxes, cages, and tanks, and give them lots of love and attention. If you have horses or other farm animals, we will care for them per your instructions, and give sociable animals personalized attention as well. If you have booked pet-sitting services or overnight care, we will also give your home a “lived-in” look by turning lights on/off, watering indoor/outdoor plants, bringing in your mail/newspaper, and taking trash/recycling to the curb and returning the cans to their normal storage location. Need something else? We customize pet and home care to your needs!


Yes! We can provide text and/or email updates, with or without pictures so that you can rest assured that your pets are happy and healthy each day. However, we like to let you enjoy your time away, so we will not bother you with day to day details unless you would prefer those notifications.


Yes. We are experienced with oral, injectable, and topical medications, and they will be administered per your instructions at no additional charge. If your animal needs extensive medication, wound care, or bandaging, we reserve the right to charge a small fee to cover our time.


Yes. During our Meet and Greet, we will ask you to show us where you keep your cleaning supplies, and if your pet has an accident we will treat the spot according to your specifications. If your pet frequently has accidents, we may suggest adding an additional visit during the day, or confining the pet to a non-carpeted area during times when the pet is home alone for extended periods.


If your pet has an illness or is injured while you are away, we will notify you right away and work with you (or your emergency contact, if you are not available) to decide on the appropriate treatment plan. A Veterinary Release Form that authorizes us to initiate treatment for your pet is part of every contract.


No. Woof to Hoof provides in-home pet sitting only, as we do not have facilities for boarding and we also believe that pets are happier and healthier when they stay in their own home, with their normal routine in place.


We primarily serve Suffolk, Virginia, but will consider neighboring counties/cities on a case-by-case basis. Our primary area codes of service are: 23434, 23432, 23437, 23438, and 23487. We are happy to discuss serving you if you are outside our 10 mile primary service area, but in order to cover our costs and time commitments, we reserve the right to charge $1.00 per additional mile over the 10-mile limit for each trip. This fee, depending on your location, may not apply to overnight care visits. Please contact us and we will discuss your needs.


If you have a pet or farm sitting need, you may call or text Joanna at 757-618-9388, email her by clicking HERE, or fill out our contact questionaire HERE. Because she is out and about during the day, it is often easier and faster to text or email. It is our policy not to answer phone calls, texts, or emails while we are with our clients’ animals, so please be patient- we will contact you back!


Please be ready with 2 copies of all keys needed to access the house and/or property. If you are a new client and are booking overnight service, a 50% deposit may be required to hold the reservation.


Payment is currently accepted as cash or check, check made out to “Woof to Hoof Pet Services.” For new clients, the balance of payment is due on the first date of service. For established clients, payment is due within 7 days of the last date of service or within 14 days of receiving your monthly bill.


Yes! We give 10% off bookings of 7 days or more, and 20% off bookings of 14 days or more. Longer term packages can be discussed on an individual basis.


We give a 10% discount for Emergency Responders, Medical Personnel, and Military Personnel. Thank you for your service!


Yes! Although a gratuity is not expected, it is a nice gesture when your sitter has worked in severe weather or provided excellent service above-and-beyond your expectations.


Your pet’s safety is our top priority. Woof to Hoof will make every effort to provide care in the event of bad weather, but in severe weather (thunderstorms, blizzards, heat waves, etc), we may modify the length of dog walks, turnout time, or outdoor time in general and instead spend the majority of our time inside with extra cuddling and mental stimulation. If we are sitting your farm, don’t worry, your animals will still get fed and cared for despite any severe weather our area may be experiencing. We have worked in hurricanes, thunderstorms, and snow, and we aren’t afraid to get wet or dirty in order to make sure your animals are warm, dry, and fed.


Because we are an appointment-based business, we appreciate early notification if your plans change. The earlier the better! Reservations that are cancelled with little to no notice may cause us to lose a reservation we have turned down in order to care for your animals. For this reason, we reserve the right to enforce the following cancellation policy:

Dog walking/midday animal care

24 hour notification: 100% credit to future visit Less than 24 hour notification: no refund

Overnight care/Pet & Farm sitting

Two week notification: 100% credit of deposit to future visit One week notification: 50% credit of deposit to future visit Less than one week notification: no refund

Holidays/Holiday Weekends

Four week notification: 100% credit of deposit to future service Less than four weeks notification: no refund

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