Jason has an aura and energy that puts even the ‘meanest’ of dogs at ease.
As noted on his website About Me page:
“My mother tells a story where I am about three years old and I wandered into the neighbor’s back yard where the “mean dog” lived. Much to her and the “mean dog’s” owner’s astonishment they found us frolicking without a care behind the shed.”
Jason brings a suitable and varied background to the table, where one specific volunteer job he held in high school helped him turn what could have been a tragic day into a close call.
He lives simply by the philosophy, “If you do what you love, you will be successful and truly happy” and it’s clear Jason is both.
In this episode of Super Hero Sitters, Jason shows the importance of observing every little detail while on a job, and taking appropriate action when necessary. In this case, three dogs’ lives depended on it (image below).
This is Star, Cody and Baily from Jason’s Story
Transcript Of Today’s Video
open up about life, liberty and the pursuit of happy pets. My name is Joshua Cary, co-
founder of the APSE, the Association of Pet Sitting Excellence. This series follows
professional pet sitters who have stories to share that may sound heroic but were really all
carried out without a second thought and as well hear all part of a day’s work.
In today’s program, I’m thrilled to be joined by Jason Hoffman, who is the owner of 203
Pet Service located in Fairfield, Connecticut.
Thanks for taking some time to join us today, Jason.
Jason: You’re welcome, Josh. Thank you very much for having me.
Joshua: Let’s begin with a brief insight into how you first became a pet sitter.
Jason: I started out working as a veterinary technician in a local animal hospital in
Fairfield, Connecticut and I worked there for approximately five years or so and I really
enjoyed my time there but I just kind of got to point where I felt as if I had gone but as far
I can get on that industry. With some support from some friends, including the practice
owner, they all kind of said that maybe I should pursue some pet sitting.
So in 2004, I decided to give it a go and I started 203 Pet Service and I haven’t looked
back since. It’s been an amazing ride.
Joshua: Excellent. Tell me what happened on – I imagine this day that began like any
Jason: So what happened was this was a new client that I had met with and they were
going away for a winter break, so they hired me to do a basic pet sit and they had three
dogs. They kept their dogs downstairs in a finished basement, they had recently had re-
finished. So we started out and the initial visit was – this was a three-time a visit client
– and the first visit was a dinnertime visit. It was in the winter time, it was already dark,
and when I came into the house, on my way in, I just kind of felt this – I could smell this
odor which was just a foul odor, which just didn’t seem right to me. Way, way back in
high school I used to be a volunteer fireman and to me, it just smelled off and I was a
little bit concerned about it. So I went down and I went in the house and I checked the
stove and made sure the stove is off because they had a gas range and really went through
the house and try to see if I could find the source and I couldn’t.
I went and I grabbed the dogs, brought them out, walked them for a little while, fed them.
They seemed normal but just something really didn’t seem right. Ultimately I made the
decision that it’s probably the best thing to do to get in contact with the fire department
and see if maybe we could have someone cover with a gas detector and just sniff around
and see if they detected anything.
Joshua: So this was right after your very first visit to this house.
Jason: Correct. This was during the first dinner time visit. So I was thinking about
it and I decided I really didn’t want to create a big giant scene so there was a fire
department right down the road. I just decided to kind of casually drive down to the
fire department and just speak with the fireman there really I just wanted to see if I can
get them with a gas detector. I just wanted to save myself a lot of embarrassment if
truly there was nothing wrong. And as it turned out, that fire department wasn’t the
same district so they called it in and they were very nice and they brought the actual fire
department that was in that district over and they came really quickly and they came in
with their gas detectors and whatnot and started to kind of sniff out the scene with their
detectors to see if there are any problems.
Once they started to kind of go up, there’s a little path to get to the door that they came
in, you could actually – their detectors actually started to detect carbon monoxide,
Joshua: From the outside?
Jason: From the outside. Correct. Right as they were starting to get into the door, they
actually started to – the detector actually started to show signs. They say that carbon
monoxide is an odorless, tasteless gas which can kill you. I don’t know, for some reason,
I seemed to smell some form of exhaust.
Joshua: So you were able to smell the carbon monoxide or something that didn’t smell
right and it turned out to be carbon monoxide.
Jason: Correct. I guess they decided that the source of the problem was an exhaust issue
with the furnace in the basement.
Joshua: Where the dogs were staying?
Jason: Yes, where the dogs were staying. All of this was in the basement area.
Joshua: So the firemen arrived, they immediately detect that there is indeed a carbon
monoxide leak; now, you as pet sitter, have the responsibility of these three dogs. What
Jason: At that point I had to have the dogs taken out of the house. I leashed them up
and basically just kind of hang outside with them because I needed to be there with the
fire department and they went through the house. They actually isolated the source of
the problem which was the furnace. Once they found that out, they had to contact the
owners, which were off in Massachusetts and they had to turn the furnace off and so
there’s no heat in the house and then they had to vent the house. Once they did all that,
they called the gas company to come in and actually disconnect the gas and the furnace and whatnot until they could get it resolved. Luckily, the gas company probably got out
there within a couple of hours, which was great and they did a fabulous job of fixing the
problem and we actually got the heat back on that night, which was great.
Joshua: Wow, my goodness. So you do what with the dogs at this point? You said
you have the dogs outside on leashes while all this is going on; does that become the rest
of your night, do you take them back to your place? What did you wind up doing with
Jason: What I ended up doing was I walked them throughout the neighborhood for a
little while and then once they got the area safe enough where we could actually be in
the house, I just kind of hung out there with them for awhile. Once they had vented the
house, it was okay for us to stay. It wasn’t the warmest house in the world to be in but it
was certainly warmer than being outside in the cold. So we just kind of hung out there
and waited for the gas company to come. When I did speak with the fireman, with the
lieutenant, he told me that this was a huge problem and that if I hadn’t done anything I
would have come out and had a couple of dead dogs, if not later that night but definitely
by morning, they would have not made it.
Joshua: This lieutenant told you straight out that if you did not act when you acted, by
morning those dogs would have died?
Jason: Absolutely. Absolutely. Based on those readings from his detector and the
readings up in the more of the living level, the first level, they were high but once you got
into the basement, they were deadly high.
Joshua: Were the clients thrilled with your course of action?
Jason: They were absolutely thrilled. It’s one of those things that you hate to have to
call a client to tell someone that there’s a real emergency at their house, but they were so
thankful that not only that I was able to be there and spend time with their pets but they
were thrilled that I was actually able to save their pets.
Joshua: That’s magnificent to hear. What do you think would have happened if they
didn’t hire you or they didn’t hire a trained professional?
Jason: The thing is that sometimes when people have friends or family members or if
they have a kid down the street take care of their pets, sometimes when they sense that
something’s wrong, sometimes they just turned a blind eye to it. Either they don’t have
time to deal with the situation or they’re just like – you know what, it’s not going to be
a big deal. If they had hired a non-professional, I would think that given the situation,
it probably would have a really kind of bad ending. Because when people hire me, they
don’t hire me just to take care of their pets, they hire us to take care of their pets and their
house and ultimately look out for anything.
Joshua: It sounds like you are a consummate professional, Jason, and I would like to believe that your volunteer fireman training early on in your high school years, you said, sort of wound up paying off.
Jason: You know I think so. It’s just those little things in life that you learn and kind of
send that little warning light off in your head, telling you that this might be a dangerous
situation and without that training, I might not even recognized it.
Joshua: I’m so happy to hear that you didn’t take what could have been written off
as ‘how bad can it be,’ and you really took action just to cover your bases and make sure
that the safety of these dogs was the utmost priority.
I’m really thankful for you taking the time and sharing your story with us today as well.
Jason: No problem, Josh. I’m so happy that I had this opportunity to speak with you
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