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A scientist has recently launched a pet-sitting service with a difference.

Helen Glenwright has created Cosy Chameleon, a pet-sitting and boarding service in Sunderland which not only cares for common household pets like cats, but also reptiles including tortoises and snakes.

The new business – which had its name inspired by Helen’s pet chameleon called Neil – allows for pets to be looked after in the comfort of their own home or at Helen’s residence.

The 42-year-old, who currently works part-time as a laboratory technician at Newcastle University and at a veterinary surgery on weekends, said it’s her passion for animals which inspired her to start the business.

“I’ve owned pets my whole life so their well-being is very important to me” said Helen, “I currently own a variety of pets including seven snakes and I also care for stray animals which are brought into the vet’s.

“It was five years ago, though, when owning reptiles became a hobby; I was offered the chance to rehome a bearded dragon and I couldn’t say no!

“And due to the interesting nature of reptiles, I went on to own more and as my experience grew, I thought I could turn a hobby into a business and tap into a niche market.

“So I completed a course in animal care and created the business to make sure pet owners – no matter what type of pet they own – can have someone to turn to when they’re stuck at work or going on holiday.”

Helen launched Cosy Chameleon with support from the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) and their start-up programme which is part-funded through the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

“The support I received from the BIC helped give me the reassurances I needed when setting up the business and it actually made me feel even more excited about starting up.” Helen added.

“I was given advice on how to attract clients and I’ve now created a business page on Facebook and joined pet-sitting directories like Paw Shake where people can make bookings and arrange a meet-and-greet.”

BIC Business Adviser, Margaret Cook, commented: “Knowing the love Helen has for taking care of animals, it’s easy to understand why she has started her own business.

“And holding down two part-time jobs as well as running your own business is no easy task, but I’m positive Helen’s determination and commitment will serve her well. I wish her all the best with her new venture.”

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