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International tails: Hong Kong

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GoFido spoke to Viola and Philip, founders of Furrenz Pet Sitters, to delve into the world of pet care in the vibrant, cosmopolitan, and dynamic city of Hong Kong.

Hi guys! Can you tell us a bit about your background and experience in the dog care industry?

We both lived in Canada for a number of years. Viola has worked as a professional pet sitter for a number of years. When we moved back to Hong Kong, we realized that there was no such pet sitting business. Upon research, we see that there is a great opportunity of market for this type of pet services, so we decided to launch our own business. Viola focused on the pet sitting operations and Philip focused on the marketing and branding aspects.

What inspired you to pursue a career in dog care?

We are both avid animal lovers. We have had many throughout our lives. As pet owners, we fully understand the need for pet care while one needs to travel for work or leisure. Especially in Hong Kong, there is a larger number of people regularly travelling around the world. Therefore, it was a great opportunity.

Image: Furrenz Pet Sitters

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in dog care, and how do you incorporate this knowledge into your work?

We are genuinely passionate about pets and about providing the best service to our customers. We personally take numerous courses and certifications on pet care. We also asked that our pet sitters also be certified in pet first aid to ensure the level of quality in their services. Throughout our years of pet care experience, we have formulated some of the learnings and knowledge into training materials and checklists for our sitters, and we train every new sitter that comes onboard. We also continuously fine tune and optimize the various services that we offer, depending on the needs of our customers.

In your opinion, what are the key qualities that make a successful and responsible dog care professional, and how do you embody these qualities in your work?

One key element is for the person to be truly passionate about working with animals. They need to be patient and willing to take an extra step to ensure all pets in their care are provided with the best care. Another important element is for the pet sitter to be good in communication with clients. Often times, the updates and messages from the sitter are the only way pet owners know about their pets’ well-being. Therefore, sitters should be able to communicate with care and empathy, to provide their clients’ peace of mind.

Hong Kong has a unique urban environment. How do you adapt your dog care practices to cater to the needs of city-dwelling dogs and their owners?

Hong Kong has a unique urban environment and small home living spaces. It is important to understand in detail what each owner’s preference is and what their pets’ behaviour is. When there is a dog walking required, ensure to fully understand the exact route that is the most comfortable and safest for the dogs. A lot of dogs also stay at home for an extended duration, so it is important to ensure that safety measures are in place so that the dogs are safe and well while their owners are away.

Image: Furrenz Pet Sitters

Hong Kong’s climate can be hot and humid. What advice do you have for dog owners on keeping their pets comfortable and healthy in such conditions?

Hong Kong has very hot and humid weather. When doing dog walks, we will ensure to provide lots of water for the doggies. The sitter should also understand the exercise habits and limits of the dogs. Even at home, it is important to work with the owners to ensure that the right temperature is provided for the dogs. Often, air-conditioning is required, with lots of water as well.

What methods ensure the smooth day-to-day operation of your dog services business, from scheduling to communication, contributing to its overall success?

The key to success is prompt and professional communication. We have a standard procedure that all customers go through, from the free initial consultation to the confirming of the services, the invoices, etc. We also open up a WhatsApp group that includes the owners, the sitters, as well as the founders. All updates of the pets will be done in this group, including images and videos. This ensures that the owners are fully aware of their pets’ well-being, and that our founders can also act as a back-up as needed.

Can you share some insights about the biggest logistical challenges you face in terms of your interactions with local authorities and/or licensing departments?

There are not many issues when dealing with authorities and licensing departments. The laws around pets are relatively flexible in Hong Kong and not as sophisticated as in other countries. Therefore, we try our best to be professional and reasonable.

Could you share a memorable success story or experience from your career that highlights the positive impact you’ve had on dogs and their owners in Hong Kong?

Overall, we had been very fortunate to have successfully launched one of the earlier larger scale pet sitting businesses in Hong Kong. We had quickly grown into a team of 20 pet sitters servicing all regions within Hong Kong. We have been humbled to be invited by many top media outlets in Hong Kong, including going on TV, magazines, and more. We are also very fortunate to have won multiple awards. This is thanks to our great supporters, part of which is our growing 30,000+ social media followers, and our great team.

And lastly – because we can’t resist asking! – what is your favourite breed of dog?

Pembroke Welsh Corgi is our favourite!

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