PET SITTING...IT'S A RUFF JOB
Santa Monica Observer
Santa Monica, California - Five years ago, Michael Landa and Brett Montana were planning a winter trip to Colorado. Before leaving, they had to find someone to take care of Montana's black lab, Max. Not wanting to send him to a kennel, they searched for a pet sitter.
"A couple of pet sitters didn't show up for our first meeting," Landa said. "Others who did show up were people we wouldn't hand our keys to."
The two finally gave up their search, and cancelled their flights to Colorado. Instead, they decided to take Max with them, and drive the 2,000+ miles. While coasting through Utah, Landa came up with an idea that would forever change their lives.
"I turned to Brett and said, "If we feel this way, there must be a lot of people in Los Angeles who have had similar experiences." Montana and Landa began a lengthy research process in which they learned as much as they possibly could about the pet sitting industry.
They consulted with other pet sitters and people who use pet sitting services. They also read as much as they could about the industry. Finally, the two of them sat down to come up with a formal business plan.
Then came the big jump. Montana, a Chief Operating Officer at an electric vehicle company and Landa, a VP of Strategic Planning at Universal Studios, quit their jobs and used their own money to open the business in April of 2001. They named it The Pet Staff.
What started as a small operation with 8 pet sitters and 200 visits to client homes each month has turned into a sophisticated operation that now includes over one hundred pet sitters performing thousands and thousands of visits each month. Arguably the largest service of its kind in the United States.
When a person is planning to go away on a trip or if they need somebody to care for their pet during a long day at work, they can contact The Pet Staff office through e-mail or by telephone. The company then matches the pet with one of its sitters. The sitter can then provide a variety of services that range from coming by the home to feed and play with the pet one to four times per day, to overnight stays, to long hikes in one of the various canyons and parks in Los Angeles County.
"We want to be there so that when you are gone, your pet is taken care of exactly as if you were the one providing the care, " Landa said. The sitters also leave a "Pet Report Card" for the owner that details what occurred during the visit, and anything the sitter feels should be mentioned.
Landa said the company has a tough screening process before hiring its pet sitters. Last month, it received over 1,000 inquiries from people wanting to work for the company. From that pool of candidates, The Pet Staff hired just seven.
"We want to make sure we are getting reliable people who are going to get the job done. It's not enough to only love animals; extreme organization and attention to detail are required elements of the job." Landa said.
And The Pet Staff does not limit its service to just cats and dogs. With its clientele located throughout the county, including a large contingent in the Santa Monica area, Pet Staff has performed service for rabbits, hamsters, tortoises, exotic fish, parrots, reptiles and even some non-animals.
"There was one woman who wanted us to come over to sit for her Christmas tree," Landa said. "I thought she was kidding, but indeed she was quite serious."
Return to Home Page