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 Director of Insurance Plan Management at Dental Care Alliance.
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 doggie 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 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 the WestFetch ad on a local neighborhood site 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. She decided if it wasn’t meant to be, she would at least have found a pet sitter and boarding facility she could trust with her dogs. It worked out for the best and she is happy working part-time as a dog walker and pet sitter.
Her family consists of husband, Bud; dogs Duke, Ace and Holly; and cats Booty, Scooter, Pumpkin and Shelley. Cheryl has lived in the Town & Country and Westchase area for over 30 years.
Mary Lou spent her childhood and most of her adulthood in a small town east of Pittsburgh. Once her daughters were grown and both relocated to Tampa, Mary Lou followed in 2005. Once in Tampa, she was able to pick up employment in the all too familiar corporate world. In early 2018, the company was sold and she lost her job due to that acquisition. That’s when retirement started to sound like a good idea.
Once retired, Mary Lou discovered being at home all day was not her cup of tea. She set out to find options and that’s when she saw a job posting at WestFetch.
Growing up, animals were always a part of her “family”. As a child she lived on a small farm with horses, chickens, cows, pigs, dogs and cats. While raising her children, there was always a wide of variety of critters including fish, iguanas, hamsters, and of course, dogs and several cats.
Mary Lou loves walking the dogs. No matter your mood in the morning, the pups put a smile on your face and you can’t wait to see them again tomorrow. They never judge and are always most willing to give big sloppy kisses!
Mary Lou currently lives in the Town & Country area. She has two daughters, two beautiful grandchildren; two Chihuahuas Mitzi and Harper, and Skeeter the cat who adopted the family. She also is a member of the Carrollwood Cultural Center Community Chorus and volunteers as an usher at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts.
(profile coming soon)