PAWS Pet Care: JFS Launches Consumer Staffed Dog Walking Business

Posted on July 19, 2016

The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities in Atlantic County is 28.2%. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports that only 48% of working-age people with disabilities in Atlantic County have entered the workforce compared to over two-thirds of people without disabilities. With these astounding statistics, JFS has officially launched PAWS Pet Care, a consumer staffed pet walking business which offers meaningful training and employment opportunities for adults with disabilities. 

JFS staff began exploring ways to generate employment opportunities in consultation with Extraordinary Ventures, a successful social enterprise business and with the Small Business Development Center at Stockton University. The collaborative noted that the flexibility in pet care service delivery ventures and the demand for such services made it a strong potential business option. Many consumers expressed enjoyment from working in settings with less people, flexible schedules and stated that they liked to work with animals; making PAWS the perfect business opportunity for these individuals with disabilities. 

“Social enterprise businesses have shown great promise for increasing employment opportunities for a number of groups that are underrepresented in the labor market, including low-income women, disconnected youth and people with disabilities,” said Nina Stolzenberg, Director of Children’s Services at JFS. “We are excited to bring this model to our community and provide employment to individuals with disabilities.” 

With funding from the Kessler Foundation and Hafetz & Associates, this project will foster job and social skills and will accommodate the growth of career, personal and community adjustment. It will also provide an income and more financial independence for the consumers. In addition to pet care services such as dog walking, companionship and pooper scooping, employment positions may include scheduling, billing and the development of marketing materials. With 8-10 anticipated consumer staff members, they will be matched with their job responsibility based on level of interest and aptitude for that specific task. Employees will have the opportunity to develop job skills and experience, which they can use for possible promotion, to seek other employment and to explore starting their own micro-business. 

PAWS Pet Care currently serves Absecon Island. Dog walking begins at $15 per visit and discounts are available for service packages. For more information about PAWS Pet Care or to receive a free initial consultation contact 609-822-6817 or PAWS@jfsatlantic.org.