AS any animal lover and pet owner will tell you, pets are frequently referred to as members of the family.
They are our children, our babies.
We love them, we care for them, and more often than not we spoil them rotten.
But so strong is the bond between pet owners and their animals, that for some the thought of leaving their beloved companions behind for a holiday or business trip is unthinkable, not to mention stressful.
And finding the right people to look after their animals can also prove challenging.
Kathy Fahndrich, of Animal Sitting Service Grafton, believes all pet owners should enjoy spending time away from home without worrying and feeling guilty about leaving their pets behind.
A self confessed animal lover (and the owner of three dogs and a cat) Kathy understands this all too common dilemma many pet owners throughout the Clarence Valley face.
By employing the services of her new pet sitting business, Kathy can help owners to relax by alleviating all the stress and concerns associated with leaving their animals at home.
"People love their pets deeply and worry about them fretting while they are gone," she said.
"Animal Sitting Service Grafton can give owners peace of mind. I will visit their homes every day and spend between 30 minutes and an hour with their pets.
I will play with the animals, check their health, feed them, brush them and ensure their yards are secure and free from harmful objects. And of course, I will give them plenty of love."
Prior to commencing her pet sitting duties, Kathy will meet with owners and their pets to bond with the animals and familiarise herself with the property.
Owners will then be required to fill out a consent form outlining their pets' microchip identification number, special requirements and the contact details of their local vet. All information obtained will remain strictly confidential.
Animal Sitting Service Grafton also provides a current police check, references and is a fully insured, registered business.
"One of the things I like so much about my pet sitting business is it allows owners to leave their pets at home," Kathy said.
"Boarding kennels are great, but they are not suitable to all pets and if an animal is more likely to fret, it is better they remain in their own environment where everything is familiar to them."
"After I have spent time with their animals I will be happy to conduct a security check of the home and turn lights on and off if requested. I will also collect any mail, put the garbage bins out and water any plants."
Waterview Heights resident Fiona Brown has been a regular client of Kathy's since she started Animal Sitting Service Grafton in May.
Describing Kathy as "brilliant," and "very loving and thorough", Fiona can always rest assured that the well-being of her menagerie of animals including three dogs, nine cows, three horses, two birds and a brood of chickens will be in good hands during her absence.
"Kathy always does a great job looking after my home and my animals while I am away," Fiona said.
"She waters my plants and walks around my property to make sure everything is secure. I can go away and relax knowing my home and my pets will be safe."
A daily visit from Animal Sitting Service Grafton costs $25 for one pet. An additional charge of $5 will apply for every extra pet in the home. If your pet requires more than one visit per day, an additional fee of $10 will apply.
Kathy is more than happy to negotiate fees if you have a large family of pets and pensioners are eligible to receive a 10 per cent discount. Small animals including budgies and fish will be fed free of charge with each cat or dog sitting visit.
Animal Sitting Service Grafton also provides a dog walking service for residential blocks only. A 15-minute walk will cost $20 and a 30-minute walk $25.
Animal Sitting Service Grafton covers a radius of 15km from the Grafton Post Office. Additional charges of 50c per kilometre one way will apply to clients living outside this range.
All pet food must be provided by the owners and fees are to be paid upfront prior to going on leave.
You can call Kathy at Animal Sitting Service Grafton on 0400 199 945