Gone to the dogs: Love of animals spurs idea to launch pet sitting service

Andrea Harrington and Stefanie Fellows enjoy pet-sitting for families across St. Clair County.
When was the last time you were happy to be up and working at 5 a.m.? For Andrea Simatos Harrington, it was the first day she headed out to take care of a client's dog. Working in corporate America never gave Harrington that feeling.


For the last year, Harrington has been growing her Algonac-based pet-sitting business and it has been nothing but a dream come true.


The pet industry has been growing leaps and bounds of the last decade, especially in the pet-sitting arena. According to a study done by Pet Sitting International, services climbed more than 25 percent from 2015 to 2017, and even more in 2018.


Happy dogs are eager to visit with Andrea Harrington when she checks on them.While plugging away in an office, Harrington knew someday, she'd be working with animals, her love for them started as a young girl. As more and more friends asked her to care for their precious pets, she saw the opportunity to take a leap of faith, leave the corporate world and invest solely in a project she is passionate about.


"I love meeting different people and getting to know different animals," Harrington says. "I like flexibility and freedom and making my own schedule."


Welcome Home Pet & Home Sitting services launched almost a year ago, and Harrington has been steadily busy, watching her business triple over the course of the year. In fact, she's teamed up with friend Stefanie Fellows of Peace of Mind Pet Services to meet the needs of those looking for pet sitters.


As pet sitters, Harrington and Fellows will come to your home and watch your pet while you are on vacation, or even just come take them for a walk while you are at work. And they are open to working with any type of animal, it's not just for the dogs.


They've watched dogs, cats, lizards, turtles, parrots, and even farm animals. Harrington is about to "sit" her first horse and is eager to learn the ins and outs of caring for them.


Their goal is to make sure each pet is loved and taken care of properly every visit. Sometimes that calls for long days, but since caring for animals is something the women love, it's barely like working at all.


All pet-sitting is done in the owner's home, for everyone's safety and security.


"I want the pets to be safe and comfortable," Harrington says. "I think pets feel calmer and safer in their own homes."Even cats enjoy a nice walk.


Before the "sitting" begins, Harrington and Fellows will visit the home, get to know the pet, or pets, being cared for, learn their schedule and give the clients a chance to learn more about them, as well, earning their trust.


Harrington and Fellows know that being trustworthy is one of the biggest traits to be successful in pet sitting world.


"Creating trust is very important, " Fellows says. "It's hard to just let someone into your house, even if it is to care for their beloved pet."


In fact, the pet sitters will take photos and text the owners just to ensure that the animals are being well taken care of daily.


By this time next year, the women hope to grow their businesses even more. They try not to say no to anyone.


"There is a strong need for pet sitters here," Harrington says, and she's happy to fill that niche. And if she's not available, she's got a trusted partner in Fellows to recommend.


Their goals heading into the next year of business is to keep growing and be busy from dawn 'til dusk. Between the two women, services are available from Algonac to Chesterfield and in between.


Taking the path from corporate America hasn't always been easy, or guarnteed, but Harrington and Fellows agree its been worth it every step of the way.