The Prime Buyer's Report

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San Francisco Bay Area Edition

Safe Hands Pet Care
P.O. Box 2577
El Cerrito, CA 94530

PSI (Pet Sitters International) EBPSA (East Bay Pet Sitters Association)

Areas Served: Alameda County incl. Oakland CA, Berkeley CA, Hayward, Dublin CA, Livermore, Fremont ...
Services: Vacation pet care for dogs and cats and mid-day dog walks.

Safe Hands Pet Care Company Profile

Lee Pang, co-owner of Safe Hands Pet Care, started taking care of animals as a girl in her native Singapore. Coming home from school she would find stray cats and dogs and bring them home, nurse them until they were healthy, then keep them or find them good families. Her mother had to deal with a house regularly turned into a menagerie.

She came to America when she was in her 20s, fulfilling her dream of going to New York. Later, she came to Los Angeles to see her friend, Doug Stein, whom she had met earlier in Singapore. The two were married in 1995.

Animal lovers both, Lee and Doug would worry when they had to be away on trips together. They would hire pet sitters to care for their cats, but they were never completely sure that the sitters were actually taking care of their pets they way they were promised. That back-of-the-mind concern always negatively affected their enjoyment of their trips.

One day they decided to start a business doing what Lee loved the most: taking care of animals and, in the process, easing the minds of their owners. In 2002, they started Safe Hands Pet Care with an eye toward providing the best pet sitting service available anywhere.

A Business Pet Owners Can Trust
"We designed this business for people like us," said Doug. "We wanted to create something for people who care deeply about their pets, staffed by people pet owners knew they could trust to be there to care for their animals when they were gone."

The business model at Safe Hands Pet Care is unique. They don't just, as Doug put it, "jot down instructions on the back of a napkin." Instead, they schedule an interview with their prospective client and their animal to learn everything they need to know, such as special feeding instructions, personality traits, favorite toys, medical issues, habits and schedules. This gives the caregivers a chance to meet the pet owners and their pets and the pet owners a chance to meet and gain trust with their animal's caregivers. To Doug and Lee, it's extremely important that both the pet owner and the sitter are 100 percent comfortable with each other and the arrangements.

Regular Contact With Clients Anywhere in the World
A huge, stress-relieving service Safe Hands Pet Care provides is keeping in regular contact, through email, with their clients. "We do things in a more sophisticated way. It's not enough to provide great pet care, you have to let the owners know you're providing great pet care," said Doug "We think regular contact and assurance goes a long way toward helping people relax, knowing their pets are in good hands."

When a client schedules pet care with Safe Hands, an email confirmation is sent out immediately to ensure the dates and times requested are correct. Then, four days before the sitters are scheduled to arrive, another confirmation email is sent. This helps ensure dates are not confused and the pets get the care they need when they need it. Then, while the client is away, regular email updates and reports are sent, assuring the owners their pets are fine and even telling them a bit about what the pet did during the last few days. Sometimes they send photo attachments of the pets so their owners can see their pets, fine, fed and having fun, while they're gone.

One client wrote: "One of the most reassuring practices Safe Hands employs is the quality of reportingthe detail in the report shows time spent getting to know each of my cats, noting each one's little quirks, how much they ate, litter box attention, etc. I have not always been certain other sitters really spent time. Safe Hands clearly does! THANK YOU!" Helen M.

The Safe Hands pet sitter won't stop coming to care for their clients' pets until they hear from the client that they are home. This ensures that the pet isn't sitting alone with an empty food dish if unexpected emergencies arise and the owner doesn't make it home when they thought they would.

Mature, Hand-Picked, Highly-Trained Sitters
Currently, along with Lee and Doug, Safe Hands Pet Care enlists the aid of 10 pet sitters. "All of our sitters are mature," said Doug. "We don't use teenagers or kids. They need to be very experienced with animals, detail-oriented and responsible; they have to follow a rigid policy of reporting. We do background checks on all of them and we accompany them on their rounds for the first two months to train and observe to be sure they are doing things exactly right."

Lee is certified by the American Red Cross in animal first-aid, and is a member of Pet Sitter's International and the East Bay Pet Sitter's Association. The company is bonded and even carries special pet sitter's insurance.

Your Pet Gets All the Attention
Safe Hands Pet Care offers two services, long- and short-term vacation pet sitting, and mid-day walks. Many people who work long hours arrange for their pets to be visited and walked daily by the pros at Safe Hands. The company never cares for or walks one client's dog with another's. The sitter can visit from one to three times a day and each pet gets 100 percent of the sitter's time and attention.

"We treat every animal as if it's our own, and nobody loves their animals more than us!" said Doug, laughing. "That is what our clients deserve, and that's what the animals deserve. We love doing this. There's nothing better than being greeted by smiling faces (of the dogs and cats) every day. They're always glad to see us. We know we're making a difference."

Lee and Doug have three cats, but when they "need a dog fix," they simply go walk one of their client's dogs. It's a way for them to stay in touch with their client's animals and have fun at the same time. They also donate regularly to pet adoption organizations.

If you have to leave town for some reason, it's good to know that there will be someone there to not only care for your pets, but to nurture, play and bond with them as well. With Safe Hands Pet Care, you can have peace of mind and enjoy your trip.

—Jim Br
Staff Writer
The Prime Buyer's Report