Sister sitters’ critter crush drives new enterprise

Daily News Staff Writer

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Jeffrey Langlois

Savanah, Cassady and Amanda Hyland, 11, 8 and 5, with their neighbor's white German shepherd, Quinn. The girls started ManalaPetSitters and spread the word in their neighborhood about their pet-sitting and house-sitting service, but then learned of the town's ban on commercial solicitation. They won a Manalapan Town Commission decision to exempt minors from the code prohibition.

MANALAPAN — The Hyland home on Point Manalapan has room for dad Paul, a general and vascular surgeon; his wife, Gina, a stay-at-home mom; and their three daughters, Savanah, Cassady and Amanda.

There are also two Persian cats and a blue-fronted Amazon parrot.

Because of the cats, there are no dogs living in their home.

But because the Hyland girls love dogs, they get their canine fix by visiting neighbors' dogs as they stroll through town.

From that love, a business — ManalaPetSitters — was born earlier this year.

"We love all kinds of things about pets," said Savanah, 11. "If you walked down the street with a dog, we'd probably attack you with treats and love."

Her middle sister agrees.

"They are fuzzy and cute. I just really like to take care of them," said Cassady, 8.

At the start of the year, the girls worked with their mom to create a Web site, They ordered business cards, T-shirts and hats to further market the fledgling business, which includes house-sitting services such as watering plants and bringing in the newspaper and mail. They even ordered a magnetic sign for the family car.

But when they placed door-hanger advertisements on homes in the Point and the rest of Hypoluxo Island in February, they ran into trouble.

It turns out Manalapan's town code bans commercial solicitors, no matter their age.

On Tuesday, the Town Commission quickly approved on first reading an ordinance amendment that would exempt minors from the peddlers and solicitors regulations. A second unanimous vote directed police not to enforce the existing ordinance against minors.

"Go for it, girls," Vice Mayor Kelly Gottlieb said. "They have done a lot of work, and they deserve the attention of the residents of Manalapan for what they've done. When you see their advertising, you'll be very impressed."

Gina Hyland, who accompanies the girls on every job, said the project has been educational.

"We home-schooled the girls, so I always encourage them to do different things and to follow their interests," Hyland said. "This happens to be one of them. They've learned about planning for a business, budgeting, marketing and now the governmental process."

The girls are also learning about philanthropy. They plan to donate 10 percent of their profits to charity. One of those charities, Savanah said, will be Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, which sends care packages to soldiers serving outside the United States.

ManalaPetSitters will be back in business as of Saturday, Hyland said.

Cassady said she enjoys working with her sisters.

"It's fun we get to do things together," she said. "It's kind of a dream come true."