Duluth pet sitter reigns with home boarding niche
When the weakened economy hit Chrisanne Ives’ pet-sitting business hard, she searched for a way to help her business stand out from the crowd. Ives talked to clients and discovered that many pet owners did not like the idea of leaving their pet in a boarding facility, but also didn’t want someone to stay at their home.
In response, Ives worked with a few of her best pet sitters and established a private-home board-ing service in which pets stay at the pet-sitter’s home while their owners are away. “The pet becomes a temporary member of that family,” she says and adds that she uses a strict matching policy to find the perfect family and environment for the pet.
This Duluth company won the Super Service Award in 2012.
Ives says the core of her business remains daytime pet sitting and, after 22 years in business, she says one thing remains the same — a focus on great customer service. “These animals are their children. You can’t fumble through it — you have to go the extra mile,” says Ives, who adds that all her pet sitters are employees, not independent contractors. “You have to have good employees or you’re doomed.”
Among her staff, Ives employs vet technicians, retired teachers and dog trainers. Greg Ives, Chrisanne’s husband, serves as the vice president and handles insurance, payroll and taxes. Reigning Cats & Dogs also cares for birds, pocket pets, potbellied pigs and horses. The company works all over Georgia, and will occasionally go out of state if sitters are needed for extended periods of time.
Today, Reigning Cats & Dogs employs 80 pet sitters, but Ives says it wasn’t always easy. Ives started the company when her position in marketing for Michelin Tires moved to South Carolina. “My roots are in Georgia,” she says. “I didn’t want to leave all that behind.”
Ives says she grew the company the old-fashioned way. In 1991, social media didn’t exist and people couldn’t turn to the Internet to find companies. “I knocked on doors, stuffed mailboxes, advertised in yellow pages and made it happen,” Ives says.
Each year, as the company grew, Ives added an additional service. What started as a basic pet-sitting service now includes overnight pet sitting, private-home boarding, waste removal and house sitting, Ives says.
Joan Walker, a member from Jefferson, says she relies on Reigning Cats & Dogs to care for her pets whenever she goes on vacation and adds that she considers her pet sitter of 10 years, Donna Foley, her pet’s aunt: “Aunt Donna takes the time to know them, play with them and they are always well cared for.”
SSA Criteria: Each year, Angie’s List awards this honor to companies that have earned an outstanding service rating, according to our members. In 2012, the criteria included a minimum number of 5 reviews in a category during the reviewing year, maintaining an A average on those reviews, as well as a recent and total overall A, and being in good standing with Angie’s List. The SSA is based on a company’s previous service record, and ratings can change, so be sure to always check the List before hiring.