Former humane society spokeswoman takes over Lucky Paws
For nearly 12 years, Gretchen Fieser was the face of an organization that sought loving homes for unloved animals.
In her new gig as owner of Lucky Paws pet resort in Freedom, the former spokeswoman for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is still surrounded by cats and dogs — only these pets have generally escaped the scars of neglect and abuse.
“These are all animals that are well-loved,” Fieser said last week on her sixth day at the sprawling resort outside Cranberry. “These are the have dogs, compared to the have-not dogs I was used to working with at the humane society.”
Fieser, 39, of Brighton Heights quit her job at the North Side shelter at the end of 2013. She bought Lucky Paws from Susan Walker, the founder and former owner, and took over as boss on Jan. 7.
Lucky Paws, celebrated by dog owners throughout the region for its large dog pool, offers dog training and grooming, overnight kennel services for dogs and cats, day care and space to rent for parties and special events.
Fieser would not reveal how much she paid for the business but said she feels confident about the job change, despite its risks.
“I liquefied my 401(k) to do this,” she said with a sheepish smile. “But it was an amazing opportunity, in my mind, to make a bet on myself. It's a fantastic business (with) an established clientele, an amazing staff and great facilities.”
Walker, who opened Lucky Paws in 2006, said she sold her business because she wanted to spend more time with her family. Walker has a 2-year-old son.
“The perception is that we do nothing but play with dogs all day,” Walker said. “It's actually a very demanding job. It's 24-7, 365, and I had a son, and it just got to be too much.”
In an email to her clients announcing the sale, Walker said she was thrilled to find a buyer who shared her love of animals.
“I couldn't believe how lucky I was,” Walker wrote. “I will be able to see my vision carried on by someone who has the same passion for animals and the same commitment to their well-being as I do.”
WTAE TV's Sally Wiggin has known Fieser for years and recently entrusted Lucky Paws to look after her 9-year-old Sable German Shepherd, Noris, while she traveled for work.
“It's in great hands,” Wiggin said. “You can't find anybody who cares more about animals than Gretchen.”
Despite the change, Fieser intends to maintain a close relationship with the humane society. For starters, she said, she and staff will foster kittens and other pets on site when the often-overcrowded shelter needs help.
“It's not something you can do for 12 years and then just walk away,” Fieser said. “I've realized that animal rescue is something that can happen anywhere, not just at an organization like the humane society.”
David Janusek, executive director at the humane society, said he hopes to find Fieser's replacement by early February.
“She meant a lot to us,” Janusek said. “You hate to see her go, but you're also happy because you see someone following her passion. She was very well-respected, and you've got to earn respect. She did.”
Chris Togneri is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5632 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Self-service Social Security kiosk installed in Cranberry municipal building
- New BC3 classes prepare students for energy industry jobs