FREDON -- A pet is a part of the family.
Pets often take up space on the bed, in a loving way, and greet their owner at the door after a long day at work, so it almost goes without saying that leaving home for a few hours or days can cause undue stress on a pet.
Luckily, two local women have come to the rescue, offering a full-service pet care in Sussex County called When U R Not There Pet Care for those on vacation or pulling 12-hour shifts at work.
The founders, Mary Scuralli, of Green, and Sue Boland, of Fredon, have vowed to give both the owner and the pet complete peace of mind.
The premise behind their company is rather simple, but is a welcome addition for those uneasy with bringing their pets to the local kennel or left without any other options.
Scuralli and Boland -- who have always loved animals but never had any as children -- offer dog walking, pet sitting, dog running and pet taxi services. Included in those services, all held at the owner's home, are feeding, playing, litter scooping, trash clean-up, gathering of mail and newspapers, fresh water refills, watering plants, ear scratches, and belly rubs.
A welcome addition to each service is an email or text update of the pet, including photos that both women will take and send to the owners throughout the time spent with the owner's pet.
Scuralli says Boland even gets a little too into the photo taking and will dress up the pets in festive items, such as a green bow for St. Patrick's Day or a red neck bandana for Valentine's Day, before snapping a picture for the owner.
"Just a little seasonal fun," Boland laughed.
The women don't typically go to a client's house together, unless there are numerous animals involved, and offer services that range from a standard, 15-minute visit for $15, ideal for cats or puppy potty breaks, to an overnight stay, a $75 charge per night.
It was 17 years ago when Boland and Scuralli first met, both having worked for Literacy NJ, a non-profit that offers adults the opportunity to increase their literacy skills.
Although Scuralli still works for the organization, Boland eventually went on to work for the Township of Fredon, where she currently serves as the secretary for both the Land Use Board and the Board of Health and handles dog licensing for the township.
The duo had always spoken about their love of animals, but it was in May 2016 when their dream to start a pet care service came to fruition. They etched out their business plans -- Scuralli joked that Boland actually did all the work -- and opened up business.
"We had both taken care of friends and family members' animals, so we knew there was a need for it," Boland said.
While some people knew the women were starting their business, word has spread on social media -- the women have an active Facebook page and website -- and find themselves quite busy.
Although it tends to vary, the women find the summer months to be the busiest time of year, with vacations planned while children are out of school.
To become familiar with a home and a pet's level of comfort, the women each hold complimentary initial assessments, where they meet with the owner first inside their home.
"It allows us to meet the owners, meet the animals and know what door to walk in, the demeanor of the animal...," Boland said.
Scuralli said they will typically fill out paperwork, including important information such as the age and breed of the animal; fears, such as kids or other animals; medications taken; places they will hide; feeding schedule; and their typical routine.
Although the women never had pets as kids, that isn't the case now.
Boland has four of her own dogs and three cats, plus Xander, a seeing eye puppy from the Seeing Eye of Morristown.
Boland has been involved with the program the past seven years and Xander is her sixth dog.
Scuralli is also no stranger to pets; she has two dogs, two cats and five rabbits.
Whether it's a trip to the veterinarian's office or an overnight stay, the women focus on making sure life is easier on both owner and pet.
In fact, Boland adds an additional perk to the job: "Playing or running with a dog is better than paying for the gym!"
The women offer full services to the Newton and Andover areas, typically within a 10-mile radius, but also offer limited services to locations such as Byram, Fredon, Hampton, Lafayette, Hardwick, Newton, Sparta, Augusta, Allamuchy, Blairstown, Frelinghuysen and Stillwater.
To find out more details about what When U R Not There Pet Care has to offer, including pricing, visit www.whenurnottherepetcare.com or visit their Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/WhenURNotTherePetCare.
Source : http://www.njherald.com/20180319/a-different-kind-of-pet-care