Homeward Bound could make boarding kennels a relic of the past
Kellie Owens’ passion for animals drove her to launch Homeward Bound, Inc., Oxford’s first in-home pet services business.
Owens has been working in the animal care industry for the past 10 years. Her first professional job was for the non-profit organization Canine Assistants in Atlanta, where she trained service dogs for people with disabilities. After moving to Oxford with her husband in 2005, Owens was hired by a local animal hospital to open a pet resort.
“The more responsibility I had with the animal hospital, the less I was interacting with animals, and I get a lot out of this kind of interaction,” Owens says.
Itching to work again in a hands-on capacity with the critters she adored, Owens began thinking of other opportunities.
“I did the pet resort, but I would never bring my pets there. I would drive them to my parents’ house in Atlanta, or I would sometimes drop them off at my husband’s parents’ house here in Oxford. They hated going. Even though I knew that I put in every possible safety measure I could, they still would shake coming down the driveway,” Owens says.
“The bottom line is that, when boarding animals, they are in confined spaces and have limited access to the bathroom. The kennel is very loud, and the human interaction is very limited. So I started thinking that there must be more people out there like me who love their pets and want to keep them at home where they are most comfortable,” she recalls.
With that idea in mind, Owens established Homeward Bound, Inc. from her home office.
Homeward Bound offers in-home care services, such as pet nannies, dog training and grooming. “Everything we do, we come to the client,” Owens says. All in-home care services include bringing in the mail, watering houseplants and turning lights on and off if desired.
Nanny services are the primary function for Homeward Bound. A pet nanny will come to a client’s home as many times a day as the client prefers, based upon the pet’s needs. The standard option is called the family service, which entails three visits per day for up to two pets, feeding, fresh water, medication dispensing and lots of attention. Dogs are given the opportunity to go to the bathroom twice every visit and are walked twice. All pet visits take a minimum of 30 minutes.
A tired pet is a happy pet, and Homeward Bound offers additional activities, such as neighborhood walks, park walks and ball fetching sessions.
The service for cats only includes one visit per day for up to two cats, feeding, fresh water, litter box cleaning and petting sessions. Owens also provides services for small pets, such as birds, hamsters, fish and other small animals. And for those folks who are too busy partying and picnicking in the Grove during football season, Homeward Bound also offers game-day let outs.
“Pets get to stay in their own environment, and the pet nanny is there 100 percent for them. Everything is real positive, and they get that one-on-one connection,” Owens says.
There is no need to worry about pets getting along well with the nannies. A consultation is required for all new clients prior to the first service date.
“I don’t send anyone into a new home that I haven’t (already) accompanied them to.”