Amy Blackmon is the owner and primary caretaker at Paws For A Cause Pet Sitting. She resides in Stevensville, Maryland with her husband, Ron, and their two kids, Aly and Nick. It was with homeless pets in mind that her family was inspired to start their business here on Kent Island.
“Each month we were receiving several newsletters from local rescues that we contribute to. My family would read them together to see what volunteer opportunities were available. In every newsletter, there’s a wish list for monetary donations, food, litter, and other supplies. We imagined the amount of money needed to operate a rescue, and wished that we could do more. I began working with animals 22 years ago and it has always been a lifelong passion of mine, so when Aly suggested that we start pet sitting, and donate a portion of our proceeds to rescue, it was a no-brainer. I guess my passion is rubbing off on my family!”
Amy’s work in the pet industry began at the age of 16 when she was offered a position at her local kennel. It was an enlightening experience where she gained hands on experience and knowledge about canine psychology and behavior, and animal welfare. Since then she has worked side by side with breeders, trainers, groomers, and veterinarians, and she’s a voracious reader of all things cats and dogs, but it was her very first job that ignited her dreams of owning and operating her own stress-free pet sitting business, and one day a luxury boarding kennel.
“I was elated when the kennel called to tell me that they wanted to hire me. I was only 16, so I had a fairy tale vision of what my employment would entail, and it pretty much looked like me running around a park-like setting with a dozen dogs all day long, playing fetch, and feeding them, and snuggling with them. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
What I discovered during that first week was a rigid, fast paced schedule that didn’t allow for playtime or snuggles, small soiled kennels in the morning, and anxious dogs… many, many anxious dogs! After a few hours spent scrubbing the kennels and preparing food, it was time to leash up the 50-120 dogs and bring them back inside so we could clean the outdoor dog runs. After a few months of doing this, day in and day out, I increasingly felt more and more sad for the boarders. What really broke my heart though, were the permanent residents at the kennel. This was not only a boarding kennel, but also a show/breeding kennel where people would pay an exorbitant amount of money to keep their show dogs here for years! I asked if I could work overtime and exercise these dogs in the afternoons, but my request was denied due to a lack of funding. So, I offered my own time, every afternoon, to take them for runs on the local trail. As I worked at the kennel for the next 2 years, caring for stressed out dogs who weren't used to the raucous barking of so many others, and being away from the comfort of their own home, I found myself dreaming up my own first-class facility, a facility designed to be stress free with soundproof kennels and modeled after a dog’s own home.”
After moving to Kent Island 15 years ago, Amy wanted start her own pet sitting business, however she was greeted by a few long-time local pet sitters, some who she befriended and she wasn’t sure if there was a need for another professional pet sitter. She stayed home with her children and became more involved in her community, the school, and with animal rescue. On occasion, she’d pet sit for friends, family, and neighbors. In 2012 she launched a jewelry business with the aspiration of giving back to animal rescue through fundraising. She organized her first event and raised hundreds of dollars for a local Humane Society.
“During the time we were homeschooling, dozens of rescue dogs called our residence home! Most of them, we pulled from kill shelters. They were at risk for euthanasia due to behavior issues or overpopulation. I’ve always been very excited about behavior and training but it wasn’t until this period that I discovered a passion for rehabilitation. I just wanted to ensure that the dogs I adopted out would never have to be rehomed again! When we adopted our own dog with aggression, we took a break from fostering and I became involved with transporting and fundraising."
After the passing of their beloved dog, Roxy, the Blackmon’s decided to foster again. Recently they had begun volunteering with a local animal rescue and decided that they would foster the next cat in need. It was the next day that Amy saw a desperate plea for a foster home, for a young male cat whose family dumped him on the street next to a local spa.
“Right away, I replied that we could help and almost immediately, he was at my door! We set Hermie up in Aly’s bedroom and he was our first ever foster cat! These days, if I’m not cuddling up with my own pets or my client’s pets, you’ll probably find me in the woods feeding our homeless community cats. Since learning about the problem with feral cats in Queen Anne’s County, I’ve been doing what I can to assist our local TNR program. When we open our kennel one day, there will definitely be a sanctuary attached!”