Manuel "Manny" Nunez had many chores while growing up, but the one that never seemed like work was caring for the family's two chow chows.
"It was my responsibility to give them food and water, take them for walks," said Nunez, a 29-year-old Fontana resident who started Manny's Pet Sitting Services about six months ago. "Ever since I can remember, animals have been a very important part of my life. Growing up, I spent part of my childhood living on a farm in Mexico, and there I learned to care for many different animals: horses, pigs, chickens, cattle."
It never occurred to Nunez that caring for people's pets could be a profession.
Then in 2010 he took a job at a mall pet shop that taught him a few things.
"I learned about dogs and their behaviors and that I wasn't a person who could sell dogs," Nunez said. "I was conflicted and started doing some research online and learned about puppy mills. It was gut wrenching."
Nunez left that job, but took with him the realization he wanted to care for animals.
"I didn't know exactly how to go about it, so I started doing more research," he said.
Nunez, who had always been a calming source for many animals, took classes and became certified in animal first aid and pet- sitting.
He is licensed, bonded and insured.
Manny's Pet Services offers pet-sitting visits, overnight care, dog-walking sessions, dog-jogging sessions and a pet-taxi service for trips including to the vet or groomer.
Nunez, who follows the example of Cesar Milan, the renown Dog Whisperer, explained there are many benefits to having a mobile pet sitter.
"I care for pets in their own home," he said. "This allows for the pet's normal schedule to be maintained while you are away and results in much less stress for your pets."
Visits last about 30 minutes and are coordinated to a time that best fits with the dog's schedule. Multiple daily visits are available. Multiple pets, pets requiring medication or homes that have contracted with Nunez with other services such as collecting mail, turning on/off lights or watering plants will take longer.
Nunez keeps up-to-date with the latest techniques in his profession continually reading and taking classes. He is a member of Pet Sitters International, PSI, and Petsit USA. He also volunteers with shelters and rescue groups including Riverside's Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center.
"Today I am a pet-sitter because there is nothing I love more than spending time with cats and dogs," wrote Nunez on his website. "Because I have always been surrounded by cats and dogs, I firmly believe that they are members of our families. Furthermore, dogs never judge me, they are just happy that I have arrived. It is because of this warm and fuzzy feeling that I choose this profession."
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