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interesting pet sitting statistics…

one of the professional organizations i belong to – pet sitters international – does an annual survey of its members they call the “state of the industry” survey. i’ve never shared this information here before but i always find it pretty interesting and it’s helpful to me in gauging how i’m doing compared to the national average. here’s some of the most interesting bits, fyi:

Who are PSI pet sitters?

According to PSI’s 2014 survey, 98.3 percent of its pet-sitting businesses are independently owned—and the majority of businesses are owned by women: 82 percent, with an additional ten percent owned by a female/male team. Ninety-five percent indicated they carry pet-sitter liability insurance and 83 percent carry both liability insurance and bonding.

Additionally, these pet sitters have completed at least some college (90.2 percent), with 34 percent having obtained bachelor’s degrees and 14.8 percent obtaining graduate level degrees.

What pets are they caring for?

The 2014 survey found that PSI pet sitters offer services for a variety of pet species from Chihuahuas to chinchillas. While dogs and cats are the species pet-sitting services most commonly offer services for—96.5 percent and 94.7 percent respectively—more than half of the pet sitters responding to the survey also offer services for birds, fish and cage pets. Eighty-eight percent also indicated they provide pet-sitting services for special-needs pets.

Who is using professional pet sitters?

PSI’s survey found that the pet-sitting client demographic has changed little since the 2011 survey. On average, the typical pet-sitting client is a married couple between the ages of 36-50 (44 percent). Survey respondents indicated there are more married couples without children in the home (44 percent) than couples with children (32 percent) who use their services.

How’s business?

  • The average annual revenue for 2013 was $49,380.
  • The average number of clients was 107.
  • The average number of pet-sitting assignments was 2,201.

And the big question…fees charged? According to the 2014 survey, here is the average duration and fee for the following services:

  • Basic pet care: 32 minutes, $18.67
  • Dog walking: 31 minutes, $18.23
  • Overnight sits: 15 hours, $63.18

i’d like to point out that the national average cost for a half hour basic dog walking visit is approximately $18 and falls right in line with my sliding scale of $15-$20/half hour visit. and my overnight fee of $40-$50/night is a downright bargain! i will assure you though that i have a long way to go to attain that average annual revenue number – i sure wish i was making that much a year with this business!

wags by mags in action!

update: although this video is now almost 4 years old and many of these animal clients have passed on, i like to keep it up here because it’s cute and i think gives you an insight into my world every day and an introduction to me that no amount of writing can do. i did just recently shoot some new video for a version 2.0, but it will be a while til it is finished. in the mean time, please do enjoy version 1.0, the original.


look what my best pal, award-winning author and filmmaker e.e. charlton-trujillo, made for me!! a wags by mags! promotional video!

i love all the action shots of my adorable clients! and yes, i’m a big ole’ dork and i’m nervous in front of a camera – don’t hold it against me!

so, yeah, this is what i do all day. i walk. i love on animals. don’t you wanna hire me?

three years!

i realized the other day that i – and by that i mean, wags by mags, LLC – am celebrating my three year anniversary of dog walking and pet sitting full time! i can’t believe it. my how time flies!

i don’t really have a specific day or even month that i think of as an official start to this business, as it was sort of a rolling process over six months. it all began in december 2010, when i was offered a regular gig walking one dog three times a week by a friend who had started a dog walking business but then had decided not to do it; she was looking to pass off a client to someone else. as i was in desperate need of money at the time, i took it, not thinking much of it other than that it would at least be some steady money coming in for little time commitment while i looked for other work. (this was during a particularly low point in my life after a major relationship break-up and my art and writing businesses had dwindled to next to nothing.)

spicy saying goodbye to me on my last day of walking her

spicy saying goodbye to me on my last day of walking her

well, as it turned out, i fell in love with the dog (spicy, an adorable boxer who i continued to walk until just a few months ago) and i started realizing that maybe this was something i could expand upon, make a go of. by march 2011, i had come up with a clever name, designed a logo, business cards and this website, and i was using social media to put the word out that i was doing this kind of work as well as making good use of craigslist to advertise for free. within a few weeks, i had all kinds of clients! it wasn’t an instant 40 hour work week, but it was one or two regular walking clients (that weren’t even friends! total strangers!) and a whole lot of occasional dog walking and pet sitting (mostly friends and friends of friends), enough to make me feel like i definitely had some momentum going with this pet business idea.

a few months later, around may 2011, as fate would have it, some friends knew another dog walker who was moving to hawaii and was looking to place her favorite clients with someone she could trust. our mutual friends hooked us up and boom, all of a sudden, i had a very full schedule! that month i filed the paperwork to make wags by mags official, a legal LLC, and joined pet sitters international and pet sitters associates, two of the more reputable professional organizations in the field, so i could learn more about my profession and also get liability insurance and bonding. (i’ve remained with both organizations and have learned a lot!)

and the rest, as they say, is history!

a rare shot of millie, one of my longtime dog walking clients, letting me love on her

a rare shot of millie, one of my longtime dog walking clients, letting me love on her

i recap all this to explain why i’ll be celebrating my three year anniversary from now through the spring. while i won’t be throwing any big parties (i don’t have a budget for that kind of thing), i do want to acknowledge it as an accomplishment that i’m proud of. three years in this business is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when you work solo, without any employees. burn out is very real in this line of work when you do it full time. it can get very monotonous, day in, day out, spending all your time alone with animals; it can be extremely physically demanding, walking 5-7 miles/day in every kind of weather from extreme heat/humidity to severe thunderstorms to sleet and sub-freezing temps; and it can be frustratingly time-consuming, as the hours can be nonstop when you pet sit at night and on weekends as well as dog walk during work-week daytime hours. i have definitely struggled over the years to maintain a balance of steady 9-5 dog walking clients with occasional night and weekend pet sitting gigs to supplement my income while still leaving enough time for myself to have a personal life of some sort. it’s not easy trying to maintain friendships and/or a relationship when you constantly have to be working nights and weekends, oftentimes overnight, when everyone else is having downtime and being social.

but i think after three years i’m getting a little better at it. the hardest part is learning how to sometimes say no when clients call. i’m a people pleaser – i always want to make people happy, especially if they are regular clients. but i’m learning to sometimes take time for myself, and i’m blessed that i currently have enough work to be able to occasionally say no. (i’m also blessed that my regular clients understand my need to occasionally say no and they continue to come back to me!)

romeo resting his head on my shoulder while i drive

romeo resting his head on my shoulder while i drive

[this seems a good point to interject that i do again have an opening for a daily dog walking client. i thought i had a new client that was starting up this week, but as it turns out, that fell through. so please spread the word that i could use one mon-fri regular walker or a few clients that together would amount to the same (two or three folks who could use me regularly one to three times a week). midcity, downtown, or uptown preferred.]

yes, this job/business has its downsides. but it’s also the best job in the world. i get to hang out with sweet, adorable dogs and cats all day (and sometimes night). i get to make my own schedule. i work for myself. i work outdoors, not in a stuffy office. i get to ride my scooter all day. i get lots of exercise and get paid to do it! i get to see so much of the city i love, experience so many different neighborhoods and architecture, see how so many different people live. it’s fascinating, really. and i’ve met some really wonderful folks who love their animals so much.

i really am just so grateful to have stumbled upon this life, this work. i had no idea what i was getting into when i started, but i’ve learned a lot along the way and have become a better person through it all. so thank you to every single person who has ever hired me to care for their pet – and there are hundreds of you at this point. without you and your trust, i could not be doing this. i could not be having the life i have now, which, despite its ups and downs, is a pretty fucking good life.

here’s to the last three years! and, i’m looking forward to seeing what this next year will bring.

me and pig the pug being silly.

booking for thanksgiving now.

just wanted to announce that i am taking bookings for thanksgiving weekend now. my dog sitting slots will fill up fast, so the sooner you contact me, the better. (cats are a little easier/more flexible, unless you have some really high-maintenance cats!) i am staying in town and hope to be working my way through the weekend while enjoying some holiday festivities here at home.

i haven’t made a decision yet about christmas but will update here when i do. thanks everyone and happy fall!


putting it out there that i have a few openings for daily dog walks in the uptown and midcity areas. please email me with your needs and i’ll see if i can make it work. also always happy to get cat sit gigs and low-maintenance dog sits to fill in my schedule.

hope everyone has a safe and fun superbowl and mardi gras!

going on vacation!

it’s official: i’ve finally managed to talk to all my daily walking clients and we’ve got plans in place, so… i am going on vacation from july 29th – august 17th! my first actual vacation since i started the pet-sitting/dog-walking biz. and, wow, do i need it!

i know it’s not the best timing for a pet sitter to go on vacation, in august, when it seems much of the city of new orleans also goes on vacation and you’d think i’d be in high demand… but it’s turning out to be the perfect time, as so many of my daily clients have either gone on hiatus for the summer (teachers and other seasonal workers off of work and therefore home, not needing me for a few months) or are taking their pets along with them on their own vacations at the same time. so it has left me with only a few clients to cover and i’ve got that under control… so, yay!

it has been a huge stress trying to visualize how to make this happen and wanting so much for it to work out, so i am grateful to all my clients and to the universe for allowing it.

during this time, i will obviously not be available for occasional/pick-up walks or for any pet-sitting. if you are interested in pet-sitting for the end of august, please try to contact me before i leave on vacation so we can work out the details and i can get it on my calendar before i go, as i will be completely off the grid and out of communication while i am gone.

up until july 28th, however, my schedule is pretty wide open. i have some sits booked over the next 2 weeks, but not much after that. and my daily schedule is very sparse right now. so if anyone needs any one-off or occasional walks, please get in touch. chances are good i can fit you in.

hope everyone is staying cool out there – this heat is really intense! happy summer!


once again, due to some shifts in clients’ schedules in the new year, i have some openings in my daily dog walking schedule. i have one half hour slot that could be anywhere from 10:30am – 12:30pm, depending on where you live. and i have another late in the afternoon around 3:30 or 4pm. this could also be one twice-a-day walk instead of two separate clients – first come, first serve.

so, email me with your needs and i will see if i can fit you in!

happy holidays!

i just want to take a minute to publicly thank everyone who has encouraged and/or helped me in my effort to launch and build this business this year. wags by mags! has been a resounding success in less than a year’s time, and i couldn’t have done it without the love and support of so many of you.

and to all my dog walking and pet sitting clients, whether one-time, occasional or daily, thank you so much… not only for hiring me and therefore enabling my self-employment, but for entrusting me with your most precious animal family members and in your homes. i am deeply humbled to have that trust, and honored to be a part of you and your pets’ lives.

happy holidays everyone!