INDIAN TRAIL – A local woman is spreading her passion and love for animals around Union County through her home-based pet sitting service.
Maureen McCarthy, owner and founder of Love and Kisses Pet Sitting, which opened in 2006, said she can’t get enough of being around animals.
“(Animals) have the biggest heart. It’s a love and a passion I’ve always had,” said McCarthy, who routinely would bring stray dogs home when she was younger.
McCarthy, a New York native, went looking for a part-time summer job after she graduated from high school. She wandered into a pet shop that groomed animals and was hired and trained as a dog groomer. “I worked there for 10 years before opening up my own dog grooming shop,” McCarthy said.
In 2004, she moved from New York to Florida and then in 2006 she moved to North Carolina and put down roots. Then, after having to board her dog for a few days, she returned to find he didn’t have any hair on the top of his nose from trying to get out of his cage, and he was no longer able to bark because, she thinks, he had been barking for four days.
Soon after that, Love and Kisses Pet Sitting, a full-service pet sitting company, was born.
“I want to help other people who don’t want to board their dogs,” said McCarthy, who wants to give people a choice: take their pets to a kennel or have a home pet sitter.
Clients can choose from a variety of services including 30-, 45- or 60-minute pet visits, mid-day dog walking, overnight pet sitting, pet boarding and 24-hour pet care. Her services include taking the pets for a walk, cleaning up accidents, giving the animals fresh water and making sure they are generally taken care of. If the owner is out of town, McCarthy said most clients choose to have up to three visits per day. In addition to taking care of the pet, she will water the plants, collect the mail, turn the blinds and turn the lights on and off to make it appear as if someone is home.
“The dogs love it. They like being in their own comfortable, home environment,” she said.
McCarthy said the hardest part of opening her own business was trying to inform people about her company and not knowing if she was going to succeed.
As Love and Kisses Pet Sitting became increasingly popular, those doubts quickly faded and last year, around the holidays, McCarthy hired her first employee. She now employs five people – three part-time employees and two that provide overnight care.
Open year-round, McCarthy said owning a business like hers takes dedication and passion. “It’s something you have to love to do, otherwise you won’t make it in this business,” she said. “You have to be dedicated, you have to be up at the crack of dawn and go let the dog out.”
McCarthy’s dedication has helped her gain a number of clients, and her business is constantly growing – although she doesn’t want to grow too large. “I don’t want to get too big because I want to keep it personal,” she said. “I like to keep it small and personal.”
Love and Kisses Pet Sitting cares for all domesticated animals. For more information on Love and Kisses Pet Sitting, visit www.loveandkissespetsitting.net.
This story is part of Union County Weekly’s series on woman-owned small businesses in the area. To suggest a businesswoman for a story, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject as “woman-owned small business.”