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Business Partners are Sitters, Nurses, Playmates to their Animal Charges
by Sarah Lynch of The Independent
 
ASHLAND -- To Terri Tomondi and Tanya Meadows, dogs are not just pets. In fact, they often refer to the four-legged companions as "fur babies" and use the word "parents" when speaking of a pet's owners. Their passion for animals has been the inspiration for the opening of their co-owned pet sitting service, Personal Pet Pals, LLC.
 
Tomondi, hospital manager of four branches of the Ashland Animal Clinic, 3101 13th St., spent years pet sitting for friends, family and clients from the clinic.
 
"People were constantly asking me to take care of their animals," Tomondi said. "It kind of snowballed and I started thinking, 'Maybe I need to do something different.'"
 
When the requests became too much for one person to handle, Meadows, a receptionist at Ashland Animal Clinic since 1997, was called in for assistance.
 
"I helped Terri with a few pet sitting jobs on the side," Meadows said. "Eventually we started discussing the possibilities of setting up an actual business, and in 2002, we established a limited liability company."
 
The "LLC" part of Personal Pet Pals means Tomondi's and Meadows' business is insured and bonded through Pet Sitters International, making it a legitimate business and its owners professionals in the field.
 
Pet owners who are going out of town for vacation, business or even if a late night at the office prevents getting home on time to let the dog outside or to feed the cats, Tomondi or Meadows can be called upon as necessary to take care of the animals.
 
"We are always on call," Tomondi said. "It wouldn't be uncommon for Tanya and I to have 10 to 15 clients a week between us and most clients have multiple pets. Some days it gets pretty harrowing."
 
For some, hiring pet sitters is a necessity.
 
When a sudden, violent illness struck her English Shepherd, Bailey, owner Stacey Ramsey decided to investigate the cause.
 
"Bailey's vet said the illness was spawned by an allergy that can be caused by stress," Ramsey said.
 
The cause of the stress, according to Ramsey, could have been Bailey's being boarded while she went out of town with her four other dogs. This possibility prompted Ramsey's call to Tomondi and Meadows for help.
 
"I use them all the time." Ramsey said. "Terri and Tanya are just wonderful. When my father-in-law had a heart attack, I was able to call them last minute to take care of my dogs. They always can, and they will."
 
Ramsey said she especially appreciates the detailed notes left for her when she returns home that show when the pet sitters were there and when the dogs were fed and given medication.
 
Personal Pet Pals work within a 10-mile radius of the business' home base, the Ashland Animal Clinic. When Tomondi and Meadows are called to pet sit, they will meet with the pet owners to obtain a key to the home, to get to know the animal and to discuss any special situations.
 
Tomondi or Meadows will go to the pet's home to let the animal outside, go for a leashed walk, to feed them, make sure they have plenty of water and to administer any medications the animal may need. These things will be done in 30-minute visits two or three times a day depending on circumstances or pet owner preferences.
 
Pet sitters believe one-on-one quality time with pets in the comfort and security of the pet's home is the most important service they provide.
 
"Our main goal is to make the pet as comfortable as possible," Meadows said. "We love on the animals, take them for walks and play with them when we visit. Eventually, the pets figure us out and get excited when we come because they know they're going for a walk."
 
"All we do are fun things," Tomondi added. "So the animals know us as fun people."
 
The pet sitters will also clean up after animals as necessary, water plants, bring in the mail/newspaper, turn on lights in the evening and keep owners informed on the well-being of the pet.
 
"We want to leave the house looking as tidy as the owners left it. The mail will be on the table, but other than that, they can't even tell we were there," Meadows said.
 
Another benefit is that both women are trained and certified in pet first aid. In fact, the pet-sitting duo plan to offer a free training class on pet first aid.
 
"We're not vets and we don't pretend to be vets," Meadows said.
 
"We always make sure that pet owners are taking care of their animal's needs according to their own veterinarian's advice. If an animal needs medical attention, we'll make sure it is taken to its usual vet or to the local animal hospital. Our main goal is to provide information to pet owners to help them know what to do should an emergency situation arise."
 
There have been a few out-of-the-ordinary situations for the pet sitters, such as the time Meadows found a pet owner's cat accidentally locked in a closet.
 
Then there was the time Tomondi was unable to enter a home with the garage door opener she was given because of a power outage in the neighborhood.
 
But according to Pet Pals client Cathy Clark of Catlettsburg, owner of 16 horses, three dogs, two inside cats and about eight barn cats, there is no problem the pet sitters can't handle.
 
"I can't tell you how long I've used Terri for pet sitting. It's been at least five or six years. She's delivered several ponies while I have been away. For some reason, they always wait 'till I leave to have babies," Clark said with a laugh. "There's never been any problems. Terri always handles the situation no matter what happens. I never worry."
 
Clark admitted to having some family in town who could manage the animals while she's away showing horses. But they're "not really horse people," she said.
 
Personal Pet Pals isn't just for dogs. The pet sitters have cared for gerbils, fish and turtles. Tomondi and Meadows agree that every pet-sitting situation is rewarding in the way each is different and they get to make friends with all kinds of creatures.
 
"People who hire us already take excellent care of their pets," Meadows said. "What we do is provide that same excellent care for pets and allow the owners to go on vacation or an overnight business trip with confidence that we will be there and their four-legged family members will be taken care of."
 
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This site was last updated 05/19/05