Craig Muniz, Owner & Founder of WestFetch
Craig was born in Sarasota, FL and grew up on a “farm” that included horses, cows, pigs, bunnies and lots of dogs. They were a dog rescue, of sorts. Many dogs that couldn’t find a home ended up with them and enjoying the remainder of their lives on his parents eight-acre property.
Craig attended college at the University of Florida, where he met his wife, Michaela, who was working on her Animal Science degree at the time and aspiring to be a veterinarian. After Craig graduated with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and an MBA (and Michaela with her Animal Science degree), their lives moved them to the Tampa area where they now reside in Westchase. Unfortunately bills and time were not on Michaela’s side so she had to abandon the vet school dream and pursued a professional career of which has grown to VP of Provider Relations at Argus Vision & Dental.
After working in the corporate world himself, from a Logistics and Inventory Manager at McNichols Co. to a Regional Delivery Manager at Home Depot, Craig was unfortunately part of job eliminations at Home Depot in 2005. Taking this opportunity to pursue his dream of owning his own business and combining it with his love of animals, WestFetch was born on October 1st, 2005.
One thing Craig and Michaela noticed about the local pet sitters at that time, none were really into it “full time”. “It was frustrating”, Craig states, “we would call them for our dogs, Ashley or Dante, and it wouldn’t be unusual for them to take days to return our calls, sometimes to only say that they couldn’t do it. We knew there was a demand for a full-time, professional pet sitting and dog walking company that had pet sitters on duty 365 days a year and that were easily accessible via phone, email or even text.” And indeed there was, WestFetch has grown tremendously since first starting out in 2005 and is still going strong today.
In fact, in 2015, Craig & Michaela purchased a property just outside of Westchase to expand their services to offer doggy day care and boarding. Noticing that the typical day care was in a warehouse with hard floors and little or no outside areas and also noticing a typical boarding facility left the dogs alone, locked up, overnight with no human interaction, they knew a better option was in need for our furry family members. The day care/boarding property has over an acre of greenspace so dogs can enjoy a spacious outside environment but also having a comfy, cage-free home for them to relax and hang with human companionship, even overnight—just like home.
Craig says the job cuts at Home Depot were a blessing in disguise. “It was a scary time not knowing how we were going to cover all our bills, but we were blessed in getting things up and running and into the black in a comparatively short amount of time” Craig says. “There is nothing more I’d rather be doing.”, he also states, and hopes if the need arises for help with your pets, don’t hesitate to contact WestFetch. “Not only do we treat your pets like our own, we’ll be there like your best friend and neighbor, helping any way we can.”
Cheryl has lived in the Town & Country and Westchase area for over 30 years but grew up in Indiana and has lived in many places. During her marriage to an Air Force member, they lived in Germany, where her son was born, and Wyoming before settling in Tampa. Her adult son lives in Clearwater with his wife and Cheryl pet sits for their cats occasionally. She is presently married to a former Marine, so she has a special affection for our military.
Cheryl worked in the IT department of a construction company for 27 years. After successfully beating cancer, she decided to leave the corporate world and took early retirement in 2011. She had always been a “cat person”, but her husband kept insisting he wanted a dog. Even though they had 3 cats at the time, in August 2011, they adopted a 9-week old puppy from the Humane Society of Tampa. Two years later, they adopted another 9-week old puppy from a local rescue in Brooksville. In August 2014, they adopted a 1-year old stray from the same rescue in Brooksville. Her household presently has three large dogs and four cats.
Cheryl supports several rescue groups, both local and in other states. She has been a foster and provides financial support through donations and Wish List purchases. In 2014, when her son’s father passed away, his only concern was what would happen to his cat. Cheryl promised him that his kitty would be welcome in her home. It took a while, but she is now one of the gang.
While enjoying retirement, and not really planning to work again, Cheryl saw a WestFetch job ad and decided it might be something fun to do. She could combine her love for animals and make a few extra dollars in spending money. It has worked out for the best and she is happy working part-time as a dog walker and pet sitter.
Joe came to Westfetch from a more than twenty year career in hospitality. He has found a near seamless transition from creating a great stay for guests to staying with great pets and exceeding owner expectations. Having always been a pet lover, Joe has found a new pleasure and joy in his adventure as a pet sitter.
From the time that he and his wonderful wife of twenty five years, Lanette, welcomed a stray cat into their home to escape a cold Syracuse winter they have had a love affair with felines and have been owners of four more since. Their current cat, Kali is a beautiful and wonderfully tempered Siamese. She does have one character flaw, she doesn’t like to share and so doesn’t play well with others. Joe and Lanette have often talked of becoming dog owners, but will have to put that great experience on hold for now. Joe and Lanette have been residents of Tampa since 1993. Joe graduated with a BA from the College of Mount Saint, Riverdale, NY., and Lanette is currently a Phd. candidate at the University of South Florida.
Liz is an English gal living in Westchase! As a child Liz grew up with dogs but with a full time career she decided a cat would be an easier option when she left home. Before she knew it she had four cats! (all rescues)
In 2013 she and her husband, Robin, decided to have a midlife adventure instead of a midlife crisis. Liz gave up her career of 20 years as a HR manager in a large retail organization, said goodbye to family and friends, including her 2 grown up children, and moved 4,000 miles across ‘the pond’ to central Ohio. She became a volunteer at an animal shelter, something she had always wanted to do but never had the time with her hectic work and family life.
After Liz and her husband had settled into the American way of life they felt they were ready to introduce a dog into their home. She had always dreamt of being owned by a border collie (those border collie owners understand) but it had to be a rescue. They discovered an animal shelter rescuing unwanted litters from Amish farms in Ohio and in 2015 rescued a 9 week old border collie pup. They wanted a ‘British’ name and so chose Harry after Prince Harry (or Harry Potter if you ask her husband!). 18 months later they rescued an 8 week old Australian Shepard pup from the same shelter and following the British theme named her Lottie, after Princess Charlotte.
At the beginning of 2017 the family moved from Ohio to Tampa with her husband’s new job and chose to settle in Westchase. Liz loves walking her dogs to keep fit so becoming a dog walker and pet sitter for WestFetch seemed an obvious choice for a job.
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Ever since Tara was a young girl she had a love for animals. Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, her parents rescued a farm kitten who they named K.C. (Kid’s Cat) when she was the age of two. However her love for dogs kept growing when her parents got the family a puppy named Napoleon, who also was a rescue.
At 17, Tara’s first job was at an animal hospital where she learned more about animals and dog behavior. The owner had a multipurpose facility which included veterinarian services and doggie daycare. Tara began to work with the manager at the doggie daycare and fell in love with the job.
Her vet hospital also helped in rescuing litters of puppies and kittens that would be likely be put down in a shelter due to overcrowding. Tara took great pride in helping take care of these litters and guiding them to their furever homes. Then she met a puppy from one of those litters who had the perfect puppies eyes that captured Tara’s heart. The little puppy came home with her and is known as Jax (pictured above).
In 2016 Tara’s best from childhood convinced her that a move to Florida was the right move, so Tara and Jax moved from Pennsylvania to Tampa. Shortly after, Tara adopted a stray cat in the area, who is named Finnegan. Jax, Finn and Tara go to the beach together and love exploring all that Tampa has to offer, that is when Jax and her aren’t at Westfetch!
“To whomever said a diamond was a girl’s best friend never owned a dog”