Today we’d like to introduce you to Samantha Jones.
Samantha, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Since I was a young girl I knew I had a special connection with animals of all kinds. I would often go over to friends’ homes and end up spending more time with their pets than them. I knew that wherever life led me, I wanted to work in an animal related field.
I moved to Las Vegas a few months after graduating from Thousand Oaks High School in 1995. I had a few random jobs here and there but in 1998 I was hired as a receptionist for Banfield the Pet Hospital. After being there for only 3 months, my manager asked if I would be interested in training as a vet tech. I spent the next several years as a tech at a couple different veterinary hospitals. The last one I worked at also had a kennel, where the techs were required to fill in if a kennel attendant called in sick. This was what really started my career as a pet sitter because I couldn’t handle seeing all the sweet cat and dog faces locked in cages for upwards of 23 hours a day. A lot of them didn’t eat or sleep well. Some of the sweetest cats became aggressive when you would try to get near them. It just took its toll on me. Why did these furry family members need to be locked in cages while their families were off vacationing and having a great time? That’s when it came to me… PET SITTING.
In March 2000, I officially opened my first pet sitting business, Crazy Critters Pet Care. 10 years later, with over 1500 clients in a 10-mile radius of my home, I was one of the most well-known, successful pet sitters in Las Vegas. I was so blessed to have such amazing success in Las Vegas. Over my 10-year career I accomplished many things. I cofounded and spent roughly 7 years as the president of a local pet sitters networking group called SNAPPS. I spent 2 years as the education director for the Humane Society of Southern Nevada as well as 3 years in several board member positions for the Las Vegas Avicultural Society. I was nominated for the prestigious PSI Pet Sitter of the Year award 6 years in a row. I also had a half dozen newspaper articles written about myself and my business. I became Pet CPR/First aid certified in 2006 and earned my certificate as a PSI Accredited Pet Sitter in 2007.
Tragically in 2010, my grandmother suffered a severe stroke and wasn’t expected to survive. As her Power of Attorney, and one of few living relatives, I returned to Southern California to be with her during her final days. Miraculously she pulled through, not without permanent damage though. For the next 6 months, I traveled back and forth between Vegas and Simi Valley to continue working but to also be with my grandmother who needed me. After all that time of going back and forth, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t just leave my grandmother here alone in a nursing home. So I packed up my car and moved full time to Simi Valley. I sold my pet sitting business to one of my dear friends, who already had an existing pet sitting company. Leaving my old life behind in Vegas was easy. Leaving my clients was the hard part. I still to this day miss many of them, as they became like family to me. I promised myself that one day I would start another pet sitting business, because that is where my heart truly is.
In 2014, I decided it was the right time to start Aunt Sami’s Pet Sitting. I am so thankful to be back doing the career that I love the most. And to be doing it back here in So Cal, is a dream come true.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Not always. Pet sitting is feast or famine. January – March and September-November are so slow that I usually have to work a second job to make ends meet. The rest of the year is usually good.
For the most part, I work 365 days a year. I don’t get holidays off. It’s hard for me to travel because I have to find a friend or another pet sitter to cover my work for me. It’s hard to have a regular life and schedule because I usually work all hours of the day. For example, today I started at 5am and worked for an hour. This afternoon I will work from about 11-1 and then 3-5 and back out again around 7.
Please tell us about Aunt Sami’s Pet Sitting.
Mainly I am a pet sitter/dog walker. When people go out of town, I go to their home 1-4 times per day to provide their pets with the care they need. That includes providing fresh food and water, walking dogs, cleaning cat boxes, giving medication, and whatever else the client may need me to for their animals. It also includes home care like rotating light and window blinds, watering plants, bringing in the mail and newspapers, etc.
I also have several clients that use me for midday visits while they are at work. So I go to their home Monday – Friday between 11-1 to walk their dogs or let their dogs out to potty, whichever they prefer.
I also over a few additional services. Bird grooming is one of the most popular. How that works is I go to their home and trim their bird’s nails, wings and beak. It’s a lot less stressful for both the bird and the client to not have to take them to the vet to have this done. Another service I offer is home health care. For example, last week I had a client call me because the vet wanted her to check her cat’s insulin at home to determine if that cat is diabetic or not. They couldn’t get blood from the cat to check her blood sugar so they asked if I would come over and do it. I also have clients whose pets require sub q (under the skin) fluids. Instead of taking their pet to the vet every day to have them do it, I go out to their home and provide that service.
My veterinary history is one of the things that sets me apart from other pet sitters. Although I don’t use those skills on a daily basis, it does make the clients more relaxed knowing that if there was a medical emergency, I would know how to handle it. I also love exotic animals such as parrots, reptiles, rodents, ferrets, farm animals, etc. A lot of pet sitters stick to dogs and cats.
I’m most proud of the fact that I have succeeded not once, but twice, in establishing a successful business. When I started my business in 2000, one of my friends admitted that she didn’t think there was a market for this service and felt bad for me that I thought I would be able to make a career out of pet sitting. I was so successful that about 3 years later after seeing my success, she opened a pet sitting business as well.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
That’s an interesting question lol
Let’s see… well, sticking to the subject of animals, I loved going to the Santa Barbara zoo with my grandparents. I never got bored of watching the animals, especially otters, meerkats and penguins. I can still sit for hours and watch them play and interact with each other.
- Pet sitting runs $18-$20/visit
- Dog walking/mid day visits are $16/day if clients use me 5 days a week.
- Bird grooming ranges from $15-$20/bird
- Website: Www.simivalleypetsitting.com
- Phone: 805 804 7291
- Email: Auntsamis@gmail.com
- Instagram: Www.instagram.com/auntsamis
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuntSamis
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/aunt-samis-pet-sitting-simi-valley-2