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Rising Stars: Meet Melissa Kinzler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Kinzler. 

Hi Melissa, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
“In the 1990’s I was part of a wave of Californians called Downshifters”, Melissa explains. “Many of us had pretty high-powered careers in the Bay Area, with long work hours and the boom was on. However, many of us were feeling an undeniable cultural shift, back to a healthier work-play balance with a focus on quality of life. What was the point of making all this money if we couldn’t use it to live well?”

“At some point, I realized that I had learned and executed the fundamentals of building and growing a business with the best of them and could apply these building blocks to something of my own. I left a successful advertising career in the city and moved to a small town outside of Silicon Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A dream was born. Over the next 20 years, as a young entrepreneur, I built a handful pet sitting companies from coast to coast before returning home to California in 2015 to pursue my Master’s Degree”, says Melissa.

Professional Pet and Property Caretaker Melissa grew up around pets and veterinary medicine. After a long day, her mother would often bring home recordings of the day’s surgical procedures and stories of the latest emergency to come through the door of the local veterinary hospital. Melissa spent her youth surrounded by every kind of pet imaginable, from cats and dogs to horses and hamsters, chickens, snakes, and ferrets.

Her love of animals eventually turned into a professional interest when Melissa became the Kennel Coordinator for the local SPCA right of college. She worked in tandem with the Sheriff’s Department to match rescue dogs with service dog training programs. Following her passion, Melissa went on to become an Animal Educator in Client Services for Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest veterinary practice in the country. She went on to build multiple pet-sitting companies from coast to coast over the next two decades.

In her professional roles of corporate life, Melissa had the pleasure of working with strategic partners such as The American Red Cross, Tucson Police Crime Scene Unit, U.S. Customs, and Border Patrol, Homeland Security, and the Sheriff’s Department. Melissa brings this experience and a level of safety to her pet sitting clients with every assignment. Melissa also provided various consulting services for Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue, private veterinary practices, and large pet sitting companies over the years, hosting American Red Cross Pet First Aid and CPR classes while training the next generation of professional pet care providers.

Melissa built her San Diego Pet Sitting service, as a means to work her way through graduate school in the field of law and mediation while serving on the American Bar Association Mediation Committee and the Commercial Sector of the Association for Conflict Resolution. Melissa will complete her MA in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding from CSU in 2023, while also training with Harvard School of Law for Mediation and Conflict Resolution in the Fall. Melissa loves to pet sit while taking online graduate classes. Pets love having the constant companionship at home and Melissa enjoys learning while traveling – especially when pets sleep on the bed with her!

Melissa spends her free time hiking and paddling the waterways the San Diego Coast. An avid kayaking and sailing enthusiast, Melissa can often be found cavorting with all the dogs on the beach in Del Mar.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were ups and downs as a young entrepreneur, but those most difficult moments were ultimately fleeting. There was a learning curve in the importance of self-discipline and time management when I moved from being an employee to self-employed. Learning not to give in to activities that will distract you was an early lesson. It’s also easy to work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week when you love your work- but balance is key. Learning to schedule time off, even if I was enjoying my work, and eating healthy while travelling was necessary to balance home-work life. Keeping accountable with weekly and monthly goal setting, tracking and measurable results went a long way.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I have a unique combination of high-end property care experience, pet care expertise, and a background in disaster response that makes me the perfect choice for San Diego pet owners. This has resulted in very high-value relationships with clients over the years.

It’s so nice to have someone trained and reliable at your home when you travel – and that is my specialty. With my service, I arrived right after clients leave and I depart right before they get home. There is no pet pick-up or drop-off, and no exposure to viruses or ailments. I deliver easy peace of mind so pet owners can really let go and enjoy their vacation.

Pets stay in their home and I come to housesit – just like a delightful “pet nanny” coming for the week. I bring my suitcase, all of the client’s pet care instructions and lots of love when I check-in for a pet care assignment. I stay on-site the entire time owners are away- not just for an hour or two. Pets are even welcome on the bed for a cuddle!

My clients receive a daily video update about how their pets are doing and the house is as clean as they left it upon return. I am trained in post-op pet care – dispensing medications orally, topically, or subcutaneously is no problem. I’ve taken care of canine and feline Cancer patients, furry car accident victims, diabetic pets and more. Senior pets and companion animals especially enjoy this kind of care because they stay comfortably at home on their normal routine, sleep in their own bed, and no special vaccinations are required.

Of course, I also bring in mail and packages, water plants, and keep the household running smoothly by overseeing the housekeeper, pool service or gardener services as well while clients are away. If clients forget something, I can ship it out or send them a snapshot of important papers.

One of my favorite parts of my work is giving back. I have been able to give back to the community by hosting no-cost FindingRover events, where I registered dozens of pets with the facial-recognition software app that easily matches lost pets with their owners anywhere in the country. This ensures if a pet does go missing, he is more likely to be quickly returned home. I also conduct a comprehensive intake process with on-site consultation for all clients and an onboarding cycle always impresses first-time clients.

The best part of my service is how clients can really let go and enjoy themselves when I am their pet sitter. Clients who haven’t traveled in years are suddenly free to visit family, friends, and exotic locations around the world without worrying about pets back home. I am honored to be held responsible for the things that matter most to my clients: their homes and their pets. I am proud of being one of the first in the nation to go digital too. Clients can request reservations and pay online, as well use my e-CheckIn service 24/7 to let me know they have arrived home safely.

What are your plans for the future?
In 2023, I plan to expand my traveling pet sitting service globally, travelling to other nations to service pet and housesitting clients in Europe, Asia, Canada, and South America. San Diego is filled with an international community and that has inspired me to take my talents on the road! As an avid kayaker, I look forward to paddling my way around the globe while looking after pets that speak Italian, French, Japanese, and Spanish.

With advent of work-from-home technology, the beautiful life I have developed as a travelling pet sitter to work my way through school has now become something that I don’t need to give up when I graduate with my Master’s Degree. I can continue pet-sitting well into the future, by working online from a laptop and cell phone as I achieve the highest ranking in ADR Mediation: MC3.

Combining my love of travel, superb pet care and online mediation is my plan for the future. What could be a better way to make a positive difference in the world?


  • $125+/night East County

  • $135+/ night San Diego

  • $149+ /night all pets North County

  • $ 159+ /night Coastal Communities

  • $199+/night Ranch or Farm

Contact Info:


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