The dog sitter
Gary Swietanski grew up around a lot of animals—dogs, cats, horses, birds and more—and has described himself as a “magnet for animals.” Friends and family knew this and would often ask him to care for theirs, and now, strangers are as well. In 2012, the 48-year-old husband and father of two turned his love for animals into his occupation, and opened Chico Paws and Claws, a pet-sitting and dog-walking service. Swietanski (who is licensed, bonded and insured) can care for your pets at your home or his. For more information visit www.ChicoPawsAndClaws.com or call 448-9561.
How did your love of animals develop?
I always loved having dogs and cats as a kid. I also went to a boarding school for high school—where we were allowed to have pets—and cared for a horse on 3,000 acres of land. It was a fantastic experience!
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Seeing and being able to be a part of the animals’ excitement when they see me. They want that love and attention, and I feed off of their endless, unconditional love. I’m a lucky dog.
What’s included in your service?
I’m a pet sitter who takes care of dogs 90 percent of the time, but I also care for cats, birds and even reptiles. I feed them, love them and take them out to play when needed. If the client is gone awhile, I can also take out their trash cans and collect their mail and newspapers. I even clean up pet waste in their yards.
Any clients stand out?
One lady had to go to the hospital unexpectedly for a week. She had no family and was low on funds so I took care of her sweet Chihuahua/ dachshund—Chiweenie—Henry for no charge. She was a sweet lady and it was my way of giving back to her.
Are there any breeds that scare you?
Before I started I used to have a really hard time being around pit bulls, so I volunteered at the Butte Humane Society to get used to them. It was very eerie at first, but I gained a lot of love and affection for them. I learned that it’s not the animal’s fault if they’re aggressive, it’s the owner’s. Pit bulls are the same as Chihuahuas or labs—they just want love and attention.
Right now I live in the city, so my boarding capacity is small. But in April we’ll move to a bigger place in the county, near Dayton Road. It will have three-quarters [of an acre] so I can board a lot more pets there.