- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

CORINTH, Miss. (AP) - Danielle LeBert is content, relaxing in the living room of her east Corinth home.

Lying beside her on the coach is her 7-month-old German Shepherd Lab mix puppy, Gretel. On the floor is Gretel’s brother, Shep.

“They aren’t happy, unless they are both getting some loving,” LeBert said, as she pets the neck on each dog.

“Meow,” LeBert’s 6-month-old “kitty cat”, Oliver, is heard in the distance. Oliver is keeping his eye on squirrels out the front window.

LeBert is surrounded by pets - the way she likes it.

From a young age she can remember always being around animals.

“As a kid, I had two cats who were my best friends,” LeBert said. “I grew up on a farm and had a ton of animals. I had so much fun.”

The farm was full of horses and cows, she said.

“We had a bunch of dogs,” LeBert said. “My nickname was Ellie Mae, because I loved animals so much and wanted to keep them all to myself.”

The 28-year-old Tupelo native is now the owner of Pet Palz, a Corinth based pet sitting business.

“I’ve had my business for about five years and I love it,” LeBert said, as Oliver pushes his face up against her name. “All animals want is to be loved and petted, so I think this is the best job in the world - to provide something, pets can’t get enough of.”

She credits the idea of opening a pet sitting business to husband Scott’s aunt.

“Aunt Jean worked for a pet sitter in Michigan,” LeBert said. “She helped me get started. She told me how things should be done and all the paperwork needed.”

LeBert started out pet sitting animals around her neighborhood, before she advertised the business to the public.

“I ran an ad in the newspaper,” she said. “The first day it ran, I got a phone call and it lead to my first client. A lot of my early business was from word-of-mouth.”

LeBert prides herself with getting to know pets and their owners before taking a job.

“I’ll go into the owner’s home and meet with them and their ‘fur-babies.’” she said. “I play with them and love on them … by the time I leave, the animals love me. That way when I come back by myself, they’ll be happy to see me.”

LeBert provides pets fresh food and water, cleans up puppy pad or litter box areas and takes pets on daily walks while owners are out of town.

Pets are allowed to follow their customary routine and diet.

“I’m here to make it easier for people to leave their pets alone,” LeBert said. “Most people don’t like the idea of leaving their pet in a crate, so they can call me and leave their pet at home.”

LeBert also offers to water plants, bring in mail, take out trash and adjust draperies while watching over her client’s pets.

“I’ve recently started sending my clients text and photo messages of pets while they are gone,” LeBert said.

This pet sitter doesn’t just watch over dogs and cats, though.

“I’ve watched after some pretty bizarre animals - everything from birds and chickens to hedge hogs and Guinean pigs,” said LeBert. “I once pet sat an exotic turtle named Jennifer.”

The animal lover took a new job in December at Vet Med. She said pet sitting is still her number one priority.

“I feel like my job at the vet has helped me understand what animals need even more,” LeBert said. “The vet also allows me to still do my pet sitting whenever I have to, so it’s a perfect fit.”

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On facebook.com/petpalz1

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Information from: The Daily Corinthian.

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