Pet-sitting entrepreneur takes her job, and her love of animals, seriously
Kim Rinde and others like her believe there are two kinds of pet sitters: “hobby sitters,” who walk and feed neighborhood dogs and cats for extra cash, and professionals.
Rinde, who is Red Cross certified in pet first aid and CPR, is insured and bonded, and can rattle off dog breeds as readily as she can recount the history of parrot ownership in the United States, considers herself one of the latter.
She is the owner and effectively the only employee – although husband Todd is her “backup” – of Kim’s Critter Care, a pet sitting service based in Minneapolis that serves Robbinsdale, Crystal, New Hope, Golden Valley, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and beyond.
When Rinde says her business’ slogan is “the best pet care you’ll find anywhere,” she absolutely means it.
While she mainly watches cats and dogs, she is equally comfortable caring for more exotic animals.
“I’ve taken care of cats, dogs, parrots, lizards, chickens … rabbits, ferrets, and fish,” she said. “I had one client, when I first started, and he had huge boa constrictors that ate rabbits. He fed them before I left, and they only need to eat like once a month. I would check on the snake, but there wasn’t much I could do for the snake. A snake that large, you don’t take out and handle. So, every day I’d just kind of look at it in it’s big enclosure and tap on the enclosure to see if it would blink and go on to the birds and cat.”
Indeed, Rinde’s venture into pet sitting came out of her own need for specialized pet care.
“I was working full time in a corporate America job, and my friend and I got to talking about how we could never go anywhere because there was nobody we could trust to watch our parrots,” she said.
At the time, Rinde and her friend had nine parrots between the two of them. Her friend has gone on to own roughly 20 “trick trained” parrots, Rinde said, but Rinde herself has scaled back to a more manageable three: Charlie, Captain, and Twinkie, who all reside in different perches in the Rinde’s living room and, occasionally, will imitate dripping water or the room’s smoke detector with pitch-perfect accuracy for attention.
“If the bird really wants to mess with my pin head, she’ll bark,” Todd said with a chuckle.
Parrots, Rinde explained, are very “high maintenance” animals to care for.
“Parrots have the intelligence level of a toddler – a three year old,” she said as Charlie chirped from his nearby cage.
The breadth of Rinde’s animal knowledge is apparent whenever she discusses them.
“In the wild they form lifelong bonds with their mates and with their flock members, some species,” Rinde said. “Other species, they kind of go on their own way. They have very complex social structures in the wild, if they’re a flock-type parrot. They just need a lot of attention and love and stimulation and companionship.”
“They need supervision when they’re out,” she added, pointing to a nail on the wall that used to hold her diploma from the University of Minnesota. Charlie, she said, would toss the diploma across the room in fits of pique.
To care for others’ high-maintenance birds, Rinde and her friend created a company – Parrot Nannies of Minnesota – to care for parrots while their owners were away, Rinde said, but were asked about care for other animals so frequently that they expanded, getting busier and busier.
Rinde lost her job during the recession of 2008, and has been pet sitting full time ever since, although she and her friend have since split to create separate businesses. Rinde’s “territory,” so to speak, with Kim’s Critter Care is the northern suburbs and Minneapolis, while her friend covers southern suburbs like Eden Prairie.
She keeps notes about the various needs of each of the pets she cares for, conducts interviews with clients before working for them, accounts for every penny spent through her business, and maintains an official website and social media presence, where she often posts photos of new clients and pets throughout the day. Rinde also can and will give updates to concerned owners about their pets via picture, e-mail, or text message, if desired.
“It’s a real business,” she said confidently.
She typically works 30 hours per week, visiting clients’ pets more than once per day if necessary. Holidays and summers are busy because pet owners, like everyone else, go on vacations and often leave their pets behind.
Even though she doesn’t need to get recertified in pet first aid or CPR, she plans to do so in the near future as a refresher.
“I want to stay sharp anyway because I consider myself a professional,” Rinde said, adding that she is also a member of the Association of Professional United Pet Sitters.
“I’m not bad-mouthing anybody who does it as a hobby or as a side line, it’s just the old adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ is sometimes true,” Rinde said.
Kim’s Critter Care began, of course, because Rinde has a deep-seated love for animals.
“I’ve been in involved in several local rescues. I’m not fostering currently, but in the past I’ve fostered for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Miniature Schnauzer Rescue, Secondhand Dogs, and Ruff Start Rescue. For parrots, I’ve had people over the years give me parrots to re-home on my own, which I’ve done.”
Rinde later said that one of the three dogs she currently owns, Maxim, a Welsh Terrier who was nuzzling against her leg, was a rescue dog.
Contact Joe Bowen at [email protected]