For over thirty years, Pioneer Pet Care has been operating quietly on East Mountain Road in Hillsborough, specializing in a family-style pet care.
Pioneer is owned by Vince and Pat DeMasi, a husband and wife team who oversee the entire operation of the kennel and pet care facility. For over three decades, the DeMasis have kept all of their pet care services in the family, without having once hired outside help.
“To my knowledge, we are the only kennel in the area that is strictly owner-operated. We’re not just on premises; we are the only two that actually have the hands-on care,” Pat DeMasi said. “We don’t hire anybody. We’ve had volunteers wanting to come in and walk them, and we appreciate the offer, but we would rather have the hands-on care ourselves.”
Added Vince, her husband and the founder of Pioneer Pet Care, “Those are opportunities for us. It might sound like you’re just taking them for a walk, but there’s a lot that happens when you’re walking a dog that’s not used to being here.”
For Vince, his dream of working with animals for a living began when he was just a boy. DeMasi recalled telling teachers in junior high school of his aspirations to be a farmer, as well as pet-sitting for friends and neighbors throughout his childhood, before going into animal science at the University of Georgia.
“I think, with animals, it’s something that’s in you. It’s a compassion you have for animals and an enjoyment, an understanding, a warmth to take care of them to the point where you say, ‘I want to advance my education’ to college,” Vince DeMasi said. “I wanted to learn as much as I could about animals.”
DeMasi then worked under veterinarians for eleven years before opening up Pioneer Pet Care. A couple short years later, he married his wife, who brought her clerical abilities from a background in banking seamlessly into the grand scheme of the business.
Although her professional background started in banking, Pat DeMasi has also always had a strong passion for animals, which allowed her to make a smooth transition into animal care.
“I grew up with animals all my life, and my sister was constantly bringing strays home, so I loved animals to begin with,” Pat DeMasi said. “Working side by side (with Vince), I had a good teacher. Hands on, showed me how to handle the animals. It really was not a bad transition at all. I do all the book work because of my banking background.”
“The animals, pretty much, they’re easy,” she continued. “The animals are easy; they love you, and if you love them, you know whatever you have to do for them, whatever’s best for them, is what you do. Once you do that, it’s easy.”
Set back from more crowded areas of Hillsborough, Pioneer features three acres which are adjuacent to 700 "green acres". The property includes a large backyard where pets can play with the DeMasis while their owners are on vacation or business trips. The care doesn’t stop there, though; the DeMasis pride themselves in a round-the-clock service that ensures for the safety and care of all pets.
“Our hours are limited, but that doesn’t mean we’re not in here at 10:30 at night sometimes,” Vince DeMasi said
Added Pat, “Most of our competitors close during the day. We don’t close during the day. We’re open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and we’re open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. That’s our people time. Animal time, obviously, is ten o’clock at night, eleven o’clock at night. We come back, put their beds down and give them whatever they need.”
This personalized attention and care is what has made Pioneer Pet Care so successful. Several clients have been bringing their pets to the kennel for decades, whenever necessary.
“We have customers on their third and fourth dogs with us,” Pat said. “I think we’re the only original owners of a kennel in Hillsborough.”
For Vince, a 55-year Hillsborough resident, offering the services of Pioneer Pet Care is just his way of giving back to and growing within what he believes is a great community.
“It’s been a great town to work in,” Vince said. “We’ve seen a lot of growth here, and I’d say it’s been a very pleasing experience over the years we’ve been servicing the community.”