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Car accident helps local woman find dream job

By Courtney Bell [1]

BELLEVILLE – Debra Gafford didn’t set out to be a pet sitter.

About 20 years ago, when Gafford was enrolled at Trent University [2] in Peterborough [3], she was working with special needs kids in a group home when the unexpected happened.

“I experienced a serious car accident that required a long time of recovery and rehab,” she said.

Koda, is one of Debra's regular furry friends. The Australian shepherd is 5 years old. Photo by Courtney Bell,QNet News..

Koda is one of Debra’s regular furry friends. The Australian shepherd is five years old. Photo by Courtney Bell, QNet News.

After recovering from the accident, she decided to start a new career that would be less physically demanding.

“I started off providing pet care, and I loved it so much that when I recovered from my car accident I started my own business and I’ve been providing pet care ever since,”she said.

Gafford owns and runs the business, Your Furry Godmother [4], by herself. She started the business in Mississauga where business was so good she had employees. But her mom is in Belleville, and she decided to move here where she works alone.  

She said she prefers to work alone so she does not have to keep track of other workers’ whereabouts.

Gafford said that she gets a lot of last minute house calls, so it’s just easier for her to do it herself.

“It’s kind of easier to make sure that I’m providing absolute best care that is possible,” she said.

At the time of the accident, Gafford was going to Trent to become a teacher. Now she doesn’t think she will go back to school to follow her dream. But that’s perfectly okay with her, she said.

Rocky had a day in the park. The Italian hound is 7 months old. Photo by Courtney Bell,QNet News.

Rocky had a day in the park. The Italian hound is seven months old. Photo by Courtney Bell, QNet News.

“I think this is what I’m meant to do. It wasn’t planned, I guess you could say, but it’s definitely where I want to be and I’m happy to continue doing it. This is what I’ll be doing until the very end because it makes me happy and I like the feeling of making another living being so happy too,” she said.

One of the things that makes Your Furry Godmother unique is in-home pet care. 

“There is not a lot of people who do that so it’s nice that folks can find somebody who is willing to come in and take care of their pets,” she said.

Gafford lives in clients’ homes overnight to ensure their pets get the best care possible.

Gafford stays at the client’s home “from supper time through to the next morning, about 9 a.m., so that all of their needs are met. That includes: medications, exercise, playtime, cuddles, and of course feeding them.

“They (the pets) feel so much better being in their own home, there is so much less stress for them,” she said.

Gafford said that this isn’t just a business, she’s providing a community service.

“I have the best job ever. I just love doing it. I mean who wouldn’t want to spend all their time with dogs and cats and horses and potbelly pigs and even fish. I do it because I love working with animals and I also love helping clients have a stress free vacation or holiday,” she said.

Gafford has been providing pet care for over 20 years now and doesn’t plan to retire from the business anytime soon.