Meet Your Merchant | Animal lovers offer in-house pet sitting
November 20, 2013
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — When Candace Healy went to Cal Poly to study animal science, cats and dogs weren't allowed in the dorms.
The animal lover knew she couldn't live without a pet, so she decided to adopt a hermit crab. She made him a home in a small glass aquarium in her dorm and called him "Crabby."
Since she was five years old, Healy said she was "rescuing animals off the curb."
"I was always destined to work with animals," said Healy, who owns Incline Pet Care.
“Pets bring warmth to a home
— everybody in the family can bond over a pet.”
owner, Incline Pet Care
Before starting her business, Healy worked as a veterinarian technician. However, 15 years working in animal hospitals meant more time behind a desk and less time in contact with animals.
"I realized that my calling had more to do with keeping critters happy and secure, rather than managing people and facilities," she writes on the business's brochure.
Healy and her husband Bill opened Incline Pet Care in 2008. Their business fills the community's need for house and pet sitters, as well as Candace's own need to be in contact with animals.
"To be caring for other people's pets is a dream job for me," she said.
Incline Pet Care provides in-home service, which allows animals to stay comfortable in their normal surroundings.
"In our opinion and my experience, for certain pets it's very important to remain in their routine," Candace said.
Many clients prefer hiring an in-house sitter instead of boarding their animals.
"Boarding is like a fraternity," Bill said. "There's noise and chaos, they're out of their normal routine."
Initial consultations are very thorough at Incline Pet Care, Bill said — sitters receive instruction on pets' specific commands, hiding places and allergies and medications.
"Keeping a close eye to make sure Fluffy finishes her dinner may be a challenge, but in this environment, we can make sure to be there," Candace said.
Incline Pet Care charges not by the number of pets in a household, but by the amount of time a sitter spends at the home. Bill said each sitter is sure to make use of that time, caring for both the pet and the house.
"We want to know where the towels are to clean their feet if it's muddy," he said. "We're not just looking after their pets, we're looking after their house, plants, mail."
Medical research over the last 25 years has continually proven the health benefits of having a pet. Keeping furry friends around is said to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and even boost the immune system.
"Pets bring warmth to a home — everybody in the family can bond over a pet," Candace said.
Pets have also proven beneficial for people with Alzheimer's, and Candace said many clients who are widowed also enjoy having the company.
"Having something to care for, to talk to and having something that needs you is really important," she said.
Debi Cuttler moved to the area and began sitting for Incline Pet Care three years ago. The flexibility of the job and the daily bonding with animals make each workday enjoyable, she said.
"When I walk in the house I either get a purr or a tail wag, and that's the best," Debi said.
Debi, Candace and Bill said they've all learned valuable lessons from caring for pets. Candace said compassion is a quality she sees in animals that she tries to exhibit in her own life.
"I'll walk in and that cat or that dog is just happy I'm there," she said. "I truly think it's taught me to be a more compassionate person with animals and with people."
Incline Pet Care is a licensed, bonded and insured company, and each sitter is Red Cross-certified for treating cats and dogs.
To offer more education to clients, Incline Pet Care will host a Red Cross certification course next month. The course will teach pet owners how to give first response care in a health emergency.
To learn more about the courses, visit the company's website at http://www.inclinepetcare.com.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.