A Couple of Military Veterans Take Aim at Pet Poop in Boston Metro West
Veterans Jack and Rosemary Sheehy have discovered that their path in life includes keeping that path clean for others.
The couple owns the Boston Metro West DoodyCalls franchise – operating a fleet of trucks manned by a specially trained pet waste collection crew who clean up private and public properties. They service nearly 300 homes in the Metro West area, a territory that stretches from suburban Boston to Central Massachusetts.
When Rosemary Sheehy was 19, she enlisted in the Air Force and became a target intelligence specialist at Offutt Air Force Base, Strategic Air Command Headquarters, in Omaha, Nebraska.
“This required a top secret clearance, and I spent my days gathering coordinates for specific targets around the world,” she says. She was next sent to South Korea to work hand in hand with two F-16 Fighter Jet Squadrons.
Several years after leaving the Air Force, Rosemary met Jack, a veteran Navy submariner who, in 2006, had purchased the DoodyCalls franchise. Jack says, “I was, and still am an engineer at IBM, but one day I was looking at side-business opportunities on the internet. The name and service DoodyCalls provides just struck me as unusually intriguing. A business niche not drawing much attention. I reached out for more information and was convinced this was a good investment opportunity.”
His instincts have proven to be sound – today the franchise earns more than $250,000 per year and its client base is growing. Rosemary says, like any small business, the early days were the most challenging.
“In the beginning Jack was the chief cook and bottle washer, doing every aspect of the job. Thank God, he eventually hired several employees to collect waste and a bookkeeper. About 6 years ago, he hired Jed Glass, our business manager, who has been a huge asset.”
While the company’s name and the services it provides garner plenty of jokes, the issue of uncollected pet waste is no laughing matter, she notes.
The American Pet Products Association estimates that there are some 77.8 million dogs in the U.S., and each one contributes an average of three-quarters of a pound of waste each. That comes to 29,000 tons a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA warns that pet waste is a significant source of water pollution, while the CDC has identified a number of illnesses that can be caused by contact with pet waste.
The service can also save a pet's life. When DoodyCalls scoopers notice something unusual in a pet’s waste they notify the owners that they should schedule a visit to their vet. Dog waste can carry potentially serious bacteria and parasites that can harm both pets and people, especially children, the elderly, and persons with different medical conditions.
“People are better at cleaning up after their pets than they once were, but it remains a serious problem,” notes Jack.
All across the country DoodyCalls franchises volunteer to clean up parks and public green spaces.
“At DoodyCalls we get behind community service. We have experienced teams volunteering in many states, and if everyone would get on board we could make huge impact on all our parks and public spaces.”
With their growing franchise, the couple now handles marketing, maintaining their fleet of branded trucks, and all the daily tasks that come with running a successful business.
“Our goal is to build our DoodyCalls service to a point where once we decide to retire we can live comfortably and keep running this business that we love,” Rosemary says.
“The experience that we both had in the military at a young age taught us discipline and respect for others, and these traits are a great asset to anyone who wants to run a successful business. Everyone at DoodyCalls does their best to go above and beyond to make our customers happy.”
One of their passions is providing services for disabled veterans and others with physical limitations that can make cleaning up after their pet problematic or even impossible.
“It is well established that pets are beneficial for the emotional wellbeing of those who are disabled, but waste disposal is often a significant challenge for them,” says Rosemary. “For us, providing our service is a win-win situation for them on many levels.”
Jacob D’Aniello and his wife Susan founded DoodyCalls in Virginia in 2000. DoodyCalls is the nation’s trusted leader in pet waste removal services for homeowners and communities.
“One of the reasons I chose DoodyCalls was that I was very impressed with Jacob D'Aniello and his business model,” says Jack. “After 10 years, Jacob continues to provide great support to his team of franchise owners because he truly cares about each one of us.”