Thom and Bridgett Story’s business, Bowwow Meow, grew out of a neighborly deed.
“I had a neighbor who used to work for the fire department in North Augusta, and he would often go out of town and do forestry work in other states in the summertime,” said Bridgett. “He asked me one time, while he was gone, if I would take care of his cat.”
She agreed and declined his offer to pay her because they were neighbors, she said.
Sometime later, a friend of her neighbor’s asked her to pet-sit for him and said he would pay because he lived in a different neighborhood.
“After a while, I began thinking, ‘Wow, this is easy and fun, and I enjoy it’,” she said. “So from there, I started looking at the idea of a kennel and realized that kennels are expensive and it would tie me to one place, so I started looking at alternative methods. Pet-sitting came to mind after I started researching animal care.”
Bowwow Meow began in 2003. It offers in-home pet-sitting and walks for animals, primarily dogs and cats, but has done other animals such as a groundhog and a horse.
“As an added service to the client, while they’re out of town, we pick up their newspaper, mail – water their plants if necessary,” she said.
Over the years, they have also built a network of resources to help people find pets, get information on fostering or adopting a pet, find health care for pets and other information.
The general pet-sitting fee is $15 per sit if the home is in about a 10-mile radius of North Augusta. The Storys pet-sit year-round, and there’s no extra fee during the holidays. New clients receive one free sit when they “like” Bowwow Meow’s Facebook page and post a picture of their pet.
Pet-sitting is a popular alternative to kennels for many pet owners, Thom said.
“Animals are always going to be more comfortable in their own house,” he said.
Their clients like knowing who is coming to their home, said Bridgett.
“It’s run strictly by my husband and I,” she said. “In the event we’re not available, we do have backup, but they are not regulars. They are people who have been doing stuff for us for years. So people can feel comfortable it’s only the same few people coming to their house.”
Many people consider pets to be members of the family, so having someone take care of their pet who loves and understands animals is a must.
“We’re big pet people ourselves – we got three dogs and a couple of cats – and we’re strong believers in rescue,” she said. “All of our animals have been animal rescue, so to be able to help other people when they are out of town with their pets, because I know how much we care about our pets, it makes you feel good. When people can go out of town and not worry about their animal, everyone feels good about it.”