By Ben Olson
Jenifer Wirz has seen just about everything in her years as a pet sitter and trainer. The Sandpoint entrepreneur is now launching Sandpoint Pet Sitting, a service that aims to cater to the many pet owners in the Panhandle.
“Quite a while back, I stopped working the hospitality business to raise our son,” said Wirz. “We were living on Vashon Island then, between Tacoma and Seattle.”
While her son finished up his schooling, Wirz decided to take a job at a local Pet Smart.
“I’ve always been an animal lover,” she said. “I started working as an obedience trainer after taking a seven- to eight-week intensive class. Then, when we moved to Spokane, I started my own classes for Pet Smart, teaching one or two of them a day, and three or four on the weekends.”
Seeing over 80 dogs each week, Wirz specialized in obedience and private lessons. She’s taught blind dogs, deaf dogs and dogs with special needs. She’s seen “bully breeds” and taught crate training, potty training and even dabbled in grooming.
“I guess I’m what you’d call a serial entrepreneur,” said Wirz. “I saw people had a need to leave their pets, but there aren’t a lot of options for them to leave them at home, so they were having to take them to a kennel, or someone else’s home to let them pet sit, and often those people are without experience.”
Wirz first developed the business model with Spokane Pet Sitting, where she serviced about 300 clients over five years. Since moving to Sandpoint full time in 2011, Wirz believes this town will have just as much of a need, especially being so dog-friendly.
But it’s not just dogs she sees. Wirz has seen, sat and catered to just about any animal a person could keep as a pet.
“I’ve had clients with snakes, rodents, chameleons, frogs, big lizards, small lizards, exotics,” she said. “One client had 29 llamas. I didn’t know llamas were communal poopers who all defecate in one area. Also, they sunbathe with all four feet in the air. When I first arrived, there were all these llamas with all four feet in the air, not moving. I thought, ‘Oh geez, I’ve killed them and haven’t even started yet!’ You learn something new every day.”
Wirz believes hiring a pet sitter who comes to your own home is a better option than taking your animal to the kennel because it helps maintain their daily routine. It also helps reduce their exposure to disease and decreases their propensity to develop destructive habits.
“What really inspired me to do this in Sandpoint was not just the need for local pet parents,” she said. “I saw people at Trinity, which is next to the Edgewater, a pet-friendly place, who brought their animals on vacation and then they’d want to go over to City Beach where it’s not dog-friendly. So, for tourists, it enables them to go out and see what Sandpoint has to offer, not having to stop what they’re doing to see if their pets are okay.”
Wirz said she can provide many services in addition to sitting. A former veterinary assistant, she has been hired to administer medication to dogs before. An accredited trainer, she has worked with all kinds of breeds and animals. Sandpoint Pet Sitting can be set up for daily visits, or overnight stays, depending on each customers’ needs.
“I am also insured through State Farm for $1 million on your home, and $5,000 for your pets,” she said. “So, the insurance will cover items in case I damage them, or, god forbid, your pet if something should happen.”
Wirz said her motto is “‘They’re home when you’re away from home,’ because that’s what we’re all about. I anticipate this will take off pretty quickly, so I’ve also trained an assistant to help out, which is also great because if I was on my way to let your dog out and got into a car accident, I have a filing system that enables anyone to pick up that file and service the pet. It’s a backup, just in case.”
Wirz said consultations are free, and if anyone is interested in making an appointment, to call her at (541) 965-9868, or email [email protected] Check out their Facebook page, or their website www.SandpointPetSitting.com for more information.
While we have you ...
... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.
You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal