Laid off from her senior-level sales position last year, and with a lot of extra free time, Kristen Schmitt found herself at the homes of her friends and family during the day, taking their pets out for a lunchtime walk and belly rub, or even watching their pets when they went on vacation.
A self-described “avid animal lover since birth,” she found herself enjoying providing the pet care — so much so she decided to make it her new full-time job. “I cashed in my (meager) 401K and voila, started pounding the pavement to obtain clients who could use this type of service,” Kristen said in an e-mail.
The result was PetCare AuPair, and who it benefits most are you and your furry friends — you don’t have to try to sneak home during your rush hour to let the dog outside, and you don’t have to spend your vacation worrying about how the cat is doing. As any pet owner can tell you, there’s a lot of poop that goes along with animal care, but Kristen says seeing an animal excited to go out and play is well worth it.
“There is nothing more rewarding than walking through a client’s door and seeing a wiggle butt excited to go for a walk, or a cat rub up against me in the hopes of some attention, food or to be played with,” she said.
While doggy day care may be a good option for some pets, others have anxiety — and Kristen speaks from experience. She once had to cut a business trip short because her dog was freaking out at the boarding kennel. “One aspect of what we do is ‘in the client home pet care’ for people, who like myself, couldn’t/can’t board or
kennel their beloved pet when heading out of town,” she said. “Knowing I can assist others who have had similar experiences is very satisfying.”
Before starting PetCare AuPair, Kristen researched what kinds of pet businesses were out there, and found few were bonded and insured. She made that a priority for her business, for the peace of mind of her clients knowing she’s in their home, and knowing she takes their pet’s safety seriously. Plus, she cares for exotic pets, like snakes and small rodents.
“A personal ‘in-home’ pet care giver can provide more than just feeding and letting a pet out or cleaning up the litter box,” she said. “Our promise to our clients is to essentially love our clients’ ‘babies’ as much as we love our own.”
So far, the business is seeing steady growth, she says, to the point where she now has a part-time pet sitter and bookkeeper. Plus, she’s extended her service area: PetCare AuPair can now go to Ferndale, Royal Oak, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Troy, Oak Park, Madison Heights, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Beverly Hills, Lathrup Village, Southfield, Warren, and Bingham Farms, sometimes other areas depending on availability, and hopes to be in parts of Macomb County by the end of the year.
And while any pet owner can tell you there’s a lot of poop that goes along with owning a dog or cat, it’s also a lot of fun caring for animals. “It is simply the best job in the world!” Kristen says.
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