Pet sitter’s family business stands tall in Houston
Melanie Whitman’s love of animals goes back to her childhood, when she spent time with her grandfather, who raised beagles and horses. She’s turned that love into a varied career of working with pets that now spans more than three decades.
Whitman has utilized that vast experience to quickly succeed in her newest venture, Houston’s Best Pet Sitters. Now in its fourth year of operation, Houston’s Best maintains a perfect grade among Angie’s List members, including four A’s and three Page of Happiness nominations in 2011. Whitman, the owner, currently employs two full-time pet sitters in addition to her husband, Bobby, and her daughter, Suzanne Minter. She also has six part-time pet sitters, and another daughter, Rachel, helps with administrative duties. “It used to be me, a car and a day planner,” Whitman says.
Owner Melanie Whitman started Houston’s Best Pet Sitters four years ago, although she has three decades worth of experience working with animals. Houston’s Best Pet Sitters received the Super Service Award in 2011 and 2012.
Whitman’s resume, which dates back to 1980, includes two years of work with an Arabian horse breeder and seven years of operating a pet grooming business out of two different veterinary clinics. While there, she says she developed an interest in pet-sitting after watching how some of the pets reacted negatively to being boarded. “Some of them do fine, but some just didn’t thrive in that environment,” she says.
Houston’s Best Pet Sitters charges $15 for a 15-minute visit, with overnight services, which include morning and evening walks, feeding, litter box cleaning for cats and basic house-sitting for $75 per night. Whitman requires a complimentary meet-and-greet with the pets and owners before pet-sitting duty can begin. She also keeps profiles on her clients’ pets and utilizes an online scheduling system that ensures every client receives an email shortly after booking and again within three days of their appointments.
Whitman, a pet obedience instructor and all-breed groomer, is certified in pet CPR. She’s also a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters to further her education.Member Kathleen Coutourie of Houston says Whitman’s crew of pet sitters puts clients at ease quickly. “My cat was diagnosed with diabetes, which requires two insulin shots a day,” she says in a Page of Happiness nomination. “They worked with me on the price, and even though I had to show the pet-sitter how to give the insulin shot, I never once worried about my cat while on my trip.”Whitman says she takes circumstances such as Coutourie’s into consideration when scheduling appointments. “We had a client recently who called with a family tragedy, and the sitter and I donated the time and service,” she says. “There are services who charge extra for late notice, but I couldn’t do that in good conscience at a time when they need us the most. We care about them.”
The Super Service Award recognizes contractors and health care providers that have maintained a stellar service rating on Angie’s List throughout the past year. Be sure to always check the List before hiring, however, as ratings can and do change.