Cailley LaPara

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On March 15, in the middle of the night while on vacation in Amsterdam, Bushwick residents Mo Moran and Caitlin Carducci were awoken by a call from Stephanie Riservato, owner of Bushwick Pet Care and their dog-sitter. Riservato was calling from a car speeding towards Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group (VERG), an animal hospital in Brooklyn. Moran’s dog, Henry, a 10-year-old shih tzu, had been attacked by another bigger dog from their building while playing on the rooftop.

Henry had been in the bigger dog’s mouth for four minutes, according to Moran when she recounted the event a week later. He lost a lot of blood, but Riservato’s quick action in getting him to the hospital right away probably saved his life. A neighbor from the building—and a complete stranger—offered to drive Riservato and Henry to VERG. Once there, Riservato stayed with Henry while the vets took care of him. She even accompanied Moran and Carducci to Henry’s follow-up vet appointments as he recovered.

“She’s a neighborhood hero,” Moran said as a fully-recovered Henry wriggled around on her lap, referring not just to Riservato’s action that night, but to the dedication and love she has given to Bushwick’s pets since she launched Bushwick Pet Care last summer.

Henry at the top left and other furry friends.

Riservato has been in the pet care game for 10 years. She got her start on Long Island, where she grew up. There, she worked for a pet care business that she said taught her a lot about consistency, which has become one of the qualities that Riservato’s clients value most. She’s “never said no” to helping out with an extra walk or feeding if an owner gets stuck at work, said Moran.

When Riservato first moved to Brooklyn three years ago, she began caring for pets in the area while still commuting back to Long Island for her gig there.

“I’ve always kind of been a workaholic,” Riservato told Bushwick Daily. “I came from a blue-collar family… I had to always kind of hustle and work every day.”

Although she only has one employer now—herself—Riservato still works around the clock, caring for 60 or so of Bushwick’s fur-children. She walks anywhere from 15 to 20 dogs per day, and her newly-hired employee is taking on a similar workload. “I don’t mind working a lot, but now that I have help, I’m kind of trying to accept days off,” Riservato said. “This weekend is my first weekend off in a long time.”

Bushwick Pet Care has expanded rapidly since its launch primarily because of Riservato’s reputation in the neighborhood for providing personal, quality pet care that pet owners can depend on. She takes time to get to know every pet and owner before adding them to her schedule, “I feel like I know each and every dog super well,” said Riservato.

Good boys.

Adding that she has no plans for more expansion any time soon, “I don’t really want to be a big company. I want to keep it small and personal. I want to know all of the clients well.”

To that end, Riservato keeps up constant communication with her clients, sending daily photos of the dogs on their walks to keep the humans updated. Many of the photos end up on Bushwick Pet Care’s Instagram.

Riservato and good boys.

Bushwick Pet Care clients agree that Riservato has created a community among Bushwick pet owners—her fan club is comprised of canines, felines and humans alike. “We’ve met people in our building just from seeing their dogs on [Riservato’s] Instagram,” said Lindsey Ullman, whose 10-month-old chocolate labrador mix, Willow, has been going on walks with Riservato since October. “People really love that Stephanie’s here and are always willing to refer her.”

All photos courtesy of Stephanie Riservato.

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