Jan. 17, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
A Forest Hills resident has established a free dog walking service for canine owners who are elderly, disabled or ill.
Corinne Conover, a dog lover and Yorkie owner, was inspired to create the service after noticing the difficulty her late sister had in walking her pup while suffering from Leukemia.
Conover, a special education teacher by day, started marketing her free service last year, called ‘Paw it Forward,” by distributing her business card at local pet shops and via Facebook.
She also sought volunteers to help walk the dogs, since she anticipated that many residents would need the service.
Within 24 hours of reaching out to the public online, Conover had 155 responses. Many canine owners requested her service, while others just wanted to lend a hand.
“I had so many people in the community that wanted to help,” Conover said. “It was really beautiful.”
The number of residents who wanted to help, in fact, outnumbered those seeking the service. Currently, Conover has 28 clients and 50 people willing to volunteer.
Conover said she pre-screens the volunteers to make sure they can stick to a dog walking schedule. She limits one or two volunteers to each dog.
“I make sure it’s only one or two volunteers per household because it’s important that the dog and the owner see the same person every week,” Conover said. “It’s a long term commitment.”
Conover is in the process of expanding her service. She is creating a website in order to cover more neighborhoods, as per requests from the community.
The website will eventually have a list of the volunteers, their availability, and a match for each pet.
Conover plans on expanding to areas such as Kew Gardens, Woodside, and Bayside but, “the sky’s the limit when it comes to this,” she said. She also plans on turning her volunteer group into an official nonprofit organization in the near future.
Conover can be contacted at [email protected]