As with all the best ideas, Kritter Sitter Oamaru fell into place as if it was meant to be.
The animal care service is the brainchild of friends and former work colleagues Sarah Baker and Kate Welsh. They both have children and pets and wanted jobs that would fit around their existing commitments while providing enjoyment and satisfaction.
Miss Baker was already looking after her own menagerie – two dogs, two turtles, two goats, four pigs with seven piglets, two chickens, a rooster, two cows, two lambs, five adult rabbits and a litter of baby bunnies.
Mrs Welsh, who describes herself as “the crazy cat lady” of the pair, previously worked at the SPCA and was keen on the idea of filling a gap in the local market.
They cater for people who do not want to put their pets in a cattery or kennels when they go away, animals that cannot be accommodated at those places anyway (such as rats or goats) and people who do not have family or neighbours available to pop round to feed their pets.
They publicised their venture on social media, building up interest and receiving a growing number of endorsements from clients.
Mrs Welsh and Miss Baker place security high on their list of credentials. They go to prospective customers’ homes to meet them and their animals before the owners depart.
The customers fill out a form with details including their pets’ microchip identification numbers and vet clinic.
“We’ve done a lot of thinking about it to get it right,” Mrs Welsh said.
They also offer to bring in customers’ mail and newspapers and take out the rubbish, giving peace of mind their home is being looked after in their absence.
The two women mostly work together, walking dogs, feeding cats, and spending time giving elderly or anxious animals plenty of attention.
Ensuring dogs have the right amount of exercise means they are out in all weather. Miss Baker calls Mrs Welsh “the road cone” because of the bright orange wet-weather gear she often wears.
“It’s forcing us to get exercise. It’s good for us.”