Keri Keogh-Gordon, owner of Paws Sitting Service in Santa Rosa Beach, has completed the Pet Sitters International Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting and has earned the designation of PSI Certified Professional Pet Sitter.

The certificate is earned after completing coursework and passing an exam on instructional material. Earning the certification means that an individual has acquired the knowledge necessary to make vital assessments on pet health and nutrition, canine and feline behavior, separation anxiety, and pet loss.

"A PSI certificate holder brings valuable knowledge to the care of companion animals," said Ellen Price, PSI's academic manager. "A pet owner who relies on a program graduate will receive top-quality pet care. The curriculum's in-depth material also assures that a pet sitter is capable of making accurate judgments and quick decisions in an emergency."

Keogh-Gordon has been pet sitting in the area for 12 years as a professional pet sitter.

"A certified pet sitter is different from a hobbiest or your neighborhood kid watching your pet," said Keogh-Gordon. "I have gone through training conferences and done webinars on health and caring of animals. I am licensed, bonded, and insured. We're there when we say and you don't have to worry that anyone will come in your home and have a party while you are away."

Keogh-Gordon said she knows of one other pet sitter in the community who is insured but she doesn't know of anyone else who is certified.

"I have seen a lot of pet sitters come and go. They think it will be a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work," she said.

At Paws Sitting Service, Keogh-Gordon does a background check before any of her potential sitters come on board with her, and she requires them to do shadowing. Her sitters are CPR and first aid trained. She presently has four people working for her and she's looking to hire more.

Keogh-Gordon is based in Santa Rosa Beach and covers the area from Rosemary Beach to the big Walmart in Destin.

"I (went through certification) to set myself aside," she said. "This is my livelihood — this is what I do. It allows me to offer reliable service to pets entrusted to my care. Earning the designation demonstrates that I am an animal steward committed to delivering excellent service."

For more information about the program, visit the Certificate Program portion of Petsit.com.

Contact Keogh-Gordon at keri@pawssittingservice.com.