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.”
Pet Sitter/Dog Walker
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.
Day Care & Boarding Supervisor
Kayla was born in Connecticut but moved with her family at a very young age to Clearwater and currently resides in Wesley Chapel. She has studied at the Animal Behavior Institute, has received a basic certification in dog training and behavior and is currently interning with an experienced trainer to further her knowledge on the subject. After completing the needed requirements, she plans to obtain a highly sought-after certification through the certification council for professional dog trainers and use her knowledge to help owners have effective, understanding, and lasting relationships with their pets.
Growing up, Kayla’s was always intrigued by animals and the way they behaved. When most other kids were watching cartoons, Kayla could be found watching various documentaries on different animal species. Because of this love, her parents got her involved in girl scouts at six years old, where she was able to experience various animals. She had a special interest in canines and delved into how they thought and how their social dynamics worked. This quickly led to her deciding that she wanted to make a career out of working with dogs.
In high school and after graduation, Kayla worked at a few different customer service roles including a bagger at Publix, a hostess at Buffalo Wild Wings and a receptionist for an ophthalmology office. Though the jobs gave her much needed experience, she quickly decided that she needed to get her foot in the door with the animal field. In 2012, Kayla accepted a job working as an adoption counselor for the humane society of Pinellas and enrolled in canine behavior classes at the Animal Behavior Institute. There she spent two years finding loving homes for abandoned and neglected dogs, cats, rabbits, and even rats. After having experienced first-hand the number of dogs that had suffered rough pasts or surrendered due to behavioral difficulties, Kayla was resolute in her goal to become a trainer to help keep dogs in their homes and out of the shelters.
Since working at the humane society, Kayla has worked as a team lead for two separate doggie daycares, worked part time for the humane society in Brooksville and received her first certification in her field of study. When she came across the ad for employment with Westfetch she knew she had to apply. After seeing the facility, she immediately fell in love with how differently this daycare was from the others and knew she had to be a part of the company. Her favorite things about the job are getting to interact with all the different personalities of the dogs that come to stay with us and witnessing how a calm, home-like environment can make a huge difference in the way shy or anxious dogs experience daycare.
Kayla enjoys spending time with her fiance Stephen and their two rescue dogs, a large mixed breed named Ben and a small pitbull named Harley Quinn. Going for walks in Hillsborough river state park as a family is one of their favorite activities to do together. She has a tender spot in her heart for shelter dogs and does her best to advocate for rescue any chance she gets. She also loves reading, comic books, video games, and music and can often be found snuggled up on the couch with both pups.