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Community Highlights: Meet Jenn McKinney of PAWZ Dog Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn McKinney.

Hi Jenn, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
As a child, I spent the majority of my time enjoying outdoor activities with my dad. We would go fishing, camping, hiking, and even just drive up to the mountains to take in the views. I loved all of the amazing animals that the Smoky Mountains are home to and we would often come across a scared, injured, or lost pet and end up taking them to a rescue or fostering them back to help ourselves. I honestly believe at one point we had 7 or 8 dogs at our house that we had rescued. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a pet at home, nor a time when I didn’t stop to help an animal in need.

As I got older and life grew more hectic, I found myself being pulled more to animals as a form of comfort. After graduating high school I got a job at a local doggie daycare and realized I had found my passion. Like most young adults, I took a few years off and jumped around from job to job, but found that all of them had one thing in common: Dogs. In 2017, I began attending Pellissippi State Community College and working as a veterinary assistant at Central Veterinary Hospital. During my spare time, I ran a small dog walking/dog sitting service where I would watch my client’s dogs at my home. I would go to clients’ homes on my lunch break and then spend the majority of my evenings providing care and house-sitting all of my furry friends. I loved my job at the vet and the team I worked with but knew I still hadn’t quite hit my niche.

I wanted my interactions with animals to be fun and playful instead of the stressful, sick, and sometimes end-of-life care we were giving at the vet’s office. I began to focus on my side hustle, changed my degree to a business degree, and poured my heart and soul into PAWZ Dog Services. I wanted to be as qualified as possible to care for the animals so I became a Certified Professional Animal Care Provider through the PACCC, took extensive courses in dog behavior and play manners, and became Pet CPR and First Aid certified. As I started taking on more clients, my schedule was getting even more booked I began to look for a Brick and Mortar location to run my dream business.

We opened our doors officially in August of 2018 and have since grown into one of Knoxville’s Top Pet Care facilities.

We won the Knoxville News Sentinel’s Best of the Best in 2020 and 2021 as well as the favorite in 2019. We currently have 12 employees and are getting ready to move into our new facility located at 410 W. Blount Avenue in South Knoxville.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
No, the road has been very bumpy along the way. I’ve had to face the loss of a parent, terrible landlords, financial hardships, and much much more. Being a young business owner one you thing face is people not taking you seriously. I had the hardest time getting the people I needed in place in the beginning, getting my landlord to take care of necessary fixes, and even finding funding.

Location is super important and finding a building that works for my purpose in South Knoxville was like finding a need in a haystack. I looked everywhere for over three years for what we would call our next Home. In the beginning, I was trying to open a new building, graduate college, and navigate life which was a lot to manage. I had to delegate my time wisely and find trustworthy people to help me along the way.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
PAWZ Dog Services is a doggie daycare, boarding, and grooming facility located in South Knoxville, TN. We provide various levels of care to the furry friends in your life. We strive to not only provide excellent care but we want to build long-lasting, rewarding relationships with our clients and their dogs. We provide a stimulating, enriching, and safe environment for dogs to socialize and will be dogs. We want them to play and learn from their surroundings. Our staff throws holiday dress-up parties for the dogs, weekly treats, and daily enrichment for the dogs to engage in. Some different activities we have done in the past are our paw paintings for Mother’s Day, Halloween signs, Easter Bunny Pictures, and Christmas Ornaments.

Their humans love to receive these special memories and the staff has a blast getting to participate! Last Halloween we even did a craft and movie night where we stayed up late, watched dog-themed movies, ate Halloween snacks, and made a cute sign for the parents to keep forever with their picture all dressed up. Our favorite time is summertime when we can break the pool out and really have a blast. You can almost always find one of the staff playing in the water with the dogs. We truly work to be a second home for the dogs in our care. We love when they show up super excited to see us, barking from the red light, and tails just wagging. That is what makes our job so rewarding!

Being in this field has been such a blessing as it has allowed us to help so many animals in need. Being in the dog or even animal industry in general you come across a lot that is in need of help. Because we have grown such an awesome customer base we have been able to help over 40 animals in the last three years receive much-needed vet care, and find forever homes. Without the help of the community, this would never be possible. Being a South Knoxville native this is so rewarding to me as a business owner that we are able to help the same community I grew up in.

We make it our mission to create a clean, safe, and trusted environment that stimulates and enriches the dogs’ life while still allowing them to feel at home. We strive to make not only the dog comfortable, but the human as well giving them one less thing to worry about. Our vision is to create true happiness within ourselves and animals by making an impact on the way all are treated. We work to do this by providing love, patience, and compassion through the best care possible. We value being able to provide a professional, accountable, reliable, and trustworthy service to both dogs and their humans in Knoxville, TN. We know most humans have a busy schedule which is why we aspire to be a flexible option for everyone.

PAWZ Dog Services was awarded the Favorite Doggie Daycare & Boarding Facility by the Knoxville News Sentinel in 2019 and won The Best Doggie Daycare & Boarding Facility in 2020 and 2021.

Who else deserves credit for your story?
My Family and Team deserve all the credit and more. I would not have been successful if it weren’t for them. They have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into every single project with me. I am beyond thankful that I have been able to find trustworthy and awesome team members.

Even the previous employees have all made a huge impact on making PAWZ Dog Services into what it is today. They have not only cared for the animals but have cared for the company as a whole. I can call them to help me fix something or take care of a mess and they will be there. Having a great team to count on is the number one key to my success.

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