This week’s business spotlight is perfect for the upcoming holiday season for those of you who are traveling; Aunty Angel’s Mobile Pet Service! If you have furry family members and you work outside of the home or travel frequently, chances are you’ve had to seek pet care options at some point or another. And sometimes, the neighbor or a family member isn’t quite who you’re looking for to take care of your beloved pet. With the holidays approaching, and many of us flying off island to spend time with friends and family, we can’t all take our four legged family members with us. That is where Belen Angel (Aka Aunty Angel) comes into it! As you will see today, Belen is more than just a dog walker or a dog sitter, she offers families the peace of mind to go to work or travel without having to worry about their babies back at home.
Me: So how did you get started in your pet service business?
Belen: When we first moved to Hawaii, it was really hard for me to find services for our dogs. Now of course being from the veterinary industry, I am very prejudice to the services that I choose and it was very hard for me to find good quality service for my own dogs over here on the Westside of Oahu. Everything that is really good quality, you have to drive downtown to and I felt like there was a need for good services on this side of the island.
Me: So what kind of services do you provide?
Belen: I provide in home pet sitting and dog walking. In home pet sitting involves me coming to your home a couple of times a day or for over night sits depending on what is needed for the animal to stay in its home environment. Dog walking is really a mid day service, where I come to your home while you are at work. I come in between the hours of 11am and 1pm and we go for a little walk. The walking is on a regular basis or an as-needed basis, depending on the clients needs. I also offer pet training. Pet training is basically puppy and dog obedience, as well as puppy socialization. So any time anybody gets a new puppy, I offer classes for them to attend. There are 8 puppies enrolled in a class at any given time and we meet one night a week at a local park and you learn how to train your puppy. Socialization makes better pets. Better pets makes happier owners. Same thing with dog obedience classes, except this is for the older dogs. A little bit harder and more intense training for the older animals, simply because, just like us, they are more set in their ways.
Me: So you can teach an old dog new tricks?
Belen: You can teach an old dog new tricks, yes, it just may take longer!
Me: What kind of experience do you have that qualifies you to offer these services to pet owners?
Belen: My background is in animal health care. When I was 16, I started working at an all feline practice where I cleaned cages, set up exam rooms, held the animals for the veterinarian, and received a lot of knowledge about the industry from those around me. I attended Murray State University, where I got my degree in Animal Health Technology, which gave me even more knowledge towards all kinds of animals, both large and small. After college I became certified as a veterinary technician and I have worked in that field for a little over 20 years.
Me: What is the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
Belen: The most interesting job I’ve had is what you would call a milk maid! I worked in a diary milking facility in college, where I had to round up the 450 head of cattle, get them through the milking barn and then of course clean up afterwards.
Me: What makes your business unique?
Belen: My business is unique because there are not a lot of services here, on this side of the island. What sets me apart from other pet services is that I bring all the medical experience with me that I have learned over the years. A lot of pet sitters are doing what they’re doing because they love pets, but they don’t have the experience I have with animals. They have simply moved into pet sitting because they are tired of their corporate jobs. I come into the business with not only the love of pets, but also the ability and knowledge to care for them.
Me: What kind of community involvement does your business have?
Belen: Right now, I am volunteering with the Hawaiian Humane Society and I have a unique position because I am on their clinical staff. This isn’t a place where most volunteers are able to work. But simply because I have the medical background that I have, I am able to work there. I am hoping to bring some kind of community over to the Westside of Oahu in some capacity, to really promote adoption verses puppy mill and issues like that.
Me: When was a time you feel you made a difference in a clients life by providing them with the services you do?
Belen: I would have to say my most recent service with a client. Her dog, a dachshund, is well loved but he is very particular. He likes his home and doesn’t necessarily like visitors in his home. He also doesn’t like to go into a boarding facility where other animals will be. So the owner was gone for about 10 days, and not only was she out of state, but out of country. I gave her the ability to be assured that her dog was in good hands while she travelled. That he was happy and comfortable in his own home. I was able to send her photos to reassure her of these things as well so she could just enjoy her trip and not worry if he was being fed, watered or played with while she was gone.
Me: What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?
Belen: My proudest moment was honestly just opening my doors, establishing myself and starting to put my name out there. Now I can say, “I am a small business owner. Here’s my business.”
Me: If you had one piece of advice for somebody starting out in this field of work, what would it be?
Belen: For somebody starting out in this field, I would say you have to start out with some sort of animal health knowledge. You can’t take on the grand task of taking over somebody’s four legged family member’s health care expecting to be able to take care of them just because you like pets. You need to have knowledge in how to care for them. This isn’t just for the pets either, this is to protect you, too! You need to know signs of aggression in different breeds. You need to know when a dog is going to bite you and how you can avoid it. Animals aren’t going to verbally tell you they don’t like you. Another thing that I think is very important in this field, you need to understand it is the owners that pay you! It’s not the pet! You can’t go into this business because you like pets, but not really like humans. I can tell you this, in all my years of doing my job and all the animals I have healed and helped, they have rewarded me in many ways, but it has never rewarded me with money. You have to like the people and be able to work with the pet owners just as much as the animals.
Me: Is there anything else you want the readers to know about Aunty Angel’s Pet Service before we go onto more personal questions?
Belen: Yes, that I am bonded and insured. I also hold a first aid CPR certification for pets. and honestly, just that I have a very vast knowledge of the medical side of animals.
Me: And how can clients get a hold of you?
Me: If you have a friend or family member coming to Hawaii for the first time what is the one thing you recommend they do?
Belen: I know it’s going to sound kind of cliche, but go to a luau. They are truly a celebration of a lot of the Hawaiian traditional all in the one location.
Me: When you aren’t running your business, where can we find you or what can we find you doing?
Belen: Haha, when I’m not running my business, I’m running my kids!
Me: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Belen: You know, I always go back to something my father used to say all the time, and that is, when you meet people, you are going to like them based on things they do for you or things they don’t do for you. You are never going to not like somebody because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, the house they live in or the cars they drive. You are going to like somebody because of the way they treat you. I have always stood by that.
Me: Do you have a favorite book?
Belen: I don’t have a favorite book because I am an avid reader, but I have a favorite author; James Patterson.
Me: Do you have a favorite movie?
Belen: Actually it’s one that our family watches over and over, and that’s Blindside.
Me: What is your favorite drink?
Belen: Coffee! It’s something I start my day off with every day and look forward to enjoying.
So now that you’ve learned a little more about Belen and the services she offers, please think of her next time you are heading out of town and need to leave your furry family member at home or in boarding while you are gone. Or if you, or anyone you know works all day out of the home and wants your four-legged love one looked in on and taken care of during the day.
Aunty Angel’s Mobile Pet Services
T: 808. 772.3705