Meet Your Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers!
Hello, I’m Flavia Berti, founder and owner of Equipaws Pet Services. I’m very happy to bring quality pet sitting and dog exercise services to my fellow Miamians! I’ve loved animals all my life, but focused this passion when I began volunteering at local pet shelters and dog rescues in Miami. That’s when I met my little girl Kala, a beautiful but poorly-treated Shar Pei, and I haven’t looked back.
Nursing her to health was such a special experience that I felt compelled to help others connect with new furry family members. These same loving people needed someone to watch their dogs. I’m very blessed that they asked me to help them, because that started me on the path to founding Equipaws Pet Services. I now have met so many wonderful new pet parents in this business…and I’m happy to say I still take care of many of my original friends to this day!
My pet sitters and I do our best to create healthy habits for all pets, especially through appropriate exercise, loving and reliable pet sitting to keep their schedules in place, and other helpful services.
This has been an amazing journey. Thank you all for trusting us with your loved one’s care. It’s truly a privilege and a pleasure, and I look forward to helping your dogs grow. It has been rewarding and life changing for me- I’m sure it will be for them, too!
Member of the NAPPS Board of Directors
The Equipaws Team:
Welcome Frankie to the Equipaws Pet Services pack! Frankie works behind the scenes with Flavia as the Equipaws photographer, Social Media Manager, and copy writer. Frankie is a Pet Tech-certified CPR and First Aid Instructor; she trains all our employees and members of the community in these life-saving techniques, and fills in as a pet sitter and dog walker when needed. She’s very excited to have adopted Boots, a feisty Shih Tzu, and Nutmeg the Chiweenie, which brings the family pack up to six.
We’re very happy to have Tom in the Equipaws Pet Services pack! Tom joins us as a pet sitter, dog walker, and Human Resources Director, taking on the important task of hiring animal lovers with exceptional customer service skills and integrity. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida International University, and served in the health care industry prior to joining Equipaws Pet Services. He brings great leadership and management skills to our pack, which is a huge help for our busy pet sitting schedule.
Jessica Schiffhauer joined Equipaws Pet Services as a part-time dog walker in 2018, and believed in our culture and mission so much she became our Operations Coordinator that same year. Jessica has an extensive and interesting background in training and animal care, having trained dogs, cats, and exotic animals for shows at Sea World and Busch Gardens.
Jessica has also traveled with the Off-Broadway show “101 Dalmatians” as their head dog trainer. Both her boys, Gary and Romeo, are retired show dogs from her past adventures. When she came to us she was working for the Miami Seaquarium in the rescue and rehabilitation of manatees and sea turtles. You may have even seen her photo in the newspaper! We’re glad to have her with us. Jessica has years of experience caring for animals and brings an upbeat attitude, kindness, attention to client happiness, and excellent organizational skills to our management team.
Kristen Cortese is not only a dog walker- she’s also our Social Media Specialist, staff trainer, and certified in dog handling. She is originally from Chicago and moved to Miami 23 years ago with her two cats, and we’re so glad she moved to Miami! Her love for animals has led to many rescues and rehabilitations as well as finding loving homes for many animals throughout the years. As an active member of the Cat Network she assists in reducing the cat population in her community by taking feral cats to receive the low cost spay and neuter that the Cat Network provides.
Her pet family includes an American Bulldog named Manfred, a Schnauzer named Lulu, and a sweet Lovebird named Peach who all love a car ride and a cat named Muffin. They all bring love and joy into her life in very special ways.
One of the most meaningful experiences Kristen has had was the rescue of a senior dog from the shelter. He was sick with cancer and other health issues but something told her he had a place in her life. Fynn gave her almost one year and, during that time, became one of the best friends she has ever had. He truly changed her with the love and gratitude he showed her on a daily basis.
In her free time you will find her at the gym, paddle boarding or cooking up a delicious healthy meal. Kristen is very excited to be part of the Equipaws team and looks forward to meeting and caring for your pets in the Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and South Miami areas.
Valerie Bode was born and raised in Miami, FL- made in the USA with Cuban ingredients! Her entire family adores animals and she’s always been around them, from the furry to the scaly. She and her husband adopted their spunky Lab mix Sandy when she was just a few months old (she’s 3 now!). They just also brought an addition into the family by the name of Pepper, a vivacious 4 month old little cocker mix.
Vale’s background is hospitality and tourism so she lives and loves to care for people and animals. She is affectionately known by friends and family as Tia Vale because of her caring nature. In her free time you can find her in the kitchen cooking and baking something she saw on Pinterest or watching her Spanish Novelas. Her favorite things to do are hanging with the furbabies and hubby on Ft. Myers Beach or hanging out in Disney World with her main mouse!
She is very excited to be part of the Equipaws team and looks forward to having the chance to bond and share the love with your pets while you are away from them.
Kira is an animal lover by nature. She grew up with a big Golden Retriever which instilled a love of dogs in her from an early age. She’s currently sister to two rambunctious King Charles Cavalier Spaniels whom she’s obsessed with taking pictures of, and a one-eyed scrappy little Maltese. She loves animals large and small, scaly and fluffy, and she’s been a mom to guinea pigs for over seven years. She studied English Literature at The University of Central Florida. She currently works for her family’s high-end construction management company which takes her all over Miami. She loves being outdoors, walking, pop-culture, reading, and maintaining her ever-growing house plant collection.
Kara was born and raised in Miami and learned her love of animals from her father, a small animal veterinarian. She worked at his practice every summer as a child and had every type of pet at her house growing up. Kara graduated from the University of Virginia with a BS in commerce and went on to earn her CPA and work for Arthur Anderson in Washington, DC. Eventually, she got married, moved back to Miami, and raised two daughters. As one is in college and the other about to start her senior year in high school, Kara had some extra time on her hands. She decided to combine her passion for animals and love of outdoors and join the Equipaws crew. She is very excited to be part of the team!
Please welcome Susan to our team! Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Susan headed to Miami after graduating from the University of Alabama, where she majored in International Studies. Susan always had small pets like guinea pigs, turtles, and birds during her childhood, but never dogs or cats because her siblings were very allergic. She didn’t let that stop her; she worked in a kennel all through high school and got her dog fix that way. When she’s not taking care of your pets in Brickell, Coconut Grove, and Downtown Miami, you can find her running through those neighborhoods. She is currently a mom to three Indian Ring Necks: Blue, Greenie, Zima (which means “white” in Russian), whom she hand-raised from hatch-lings.Susan is an animal lover through and through, we’re excited to have her on the team!
Leigh joins our team as a Florida native. She was born and raised in Northeast Florida and graduated from the University of North Florida with a B.S. in Chemistry. She served two years as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer teaching high school in Papua New Guinea and then a year as an ESL instructor at a private academy in Fukui Prefecture in Japan. She moved back to the United States and spent the last 18 years as a chemist at a precious metals refinery. While living in the Pacific Northwest, she had lots of animal companions – four dogs, a guinea pig and 28 koi fish. After her golden retriever, Roark, passed at the age of 14, she and her husband traveled cross country in an RV for a year and a half before settling in South Coconut Grove. She isn’t in a position right now to have animals herself, but her love for walking and animals makes Equipaws the perfect opportunity for her to vicariously love on your pet and joyfully treat them as if they were her own!
Austin Abercrombie was born and raised here in Miami, Florida and Ioves all types of animals, but dogs have a special place in his heart. He adores the outdoors and will do anything in order to enjoy his entire day outside. His favorite activity is fishing, which he almost always finds time to squeeze into his day in between school and his two jobs. Austin graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. He is studying to become a firefighter, which will in turn give him the free time and capital to build the fishing business he has always dreamed of starting.
Austin has always owned Labrador retrievers, the first being a yellow Lab named Abbie, and the current being Bentley, a chocolate Lab. Every time he is near a pup, or even sees a picture of a dog, it brings an immediate smile to his face. The endless entertainment and opportunities to work with these unique animals is what he looks forward to the minute he steps foot on the job. Austin will be caring for our clients in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, and Coconut Grove. Be sure to say hi when you see him out and about!
Please welcome Sarah back to our pack! Sarah’s love of all things furry, feathered, and scaled began at a very young age. She adopted her first dog, an energetic terrier mix named Cookie, from a local animal shelter on her sixth birthday. Throughout the years she was always bringing home stray or injured animals, many of which became permanent members of the family. Sarah always knew that she wanted to work with animals in some capacity. As a teenager she was an avid horseback rider and in high school began volunteering at Miami-Metro Zoo. When she was sixteen she started working at a local parrot store and it was then that she discovered her passion for birds and her desire to learn everything she could about them. She continued to volunteer and work with a variety of different animals throughout college and graduated with a B.S. in Biology from Florida International University.
Sarah’s excited to have been given the opportunity to be a part of the Equipaws team! Having used Equipaws to care for her own pets, she knows firsthand how important it is for other animal parents to know that their pets are in good hand. When she is not working as a pet sitter/dog walker, she enjoys spending her time outdoors with her newest addition, a three year old chihuahua/beagle mix named Zoey. Her family pack currently includes three dogs, three cats, a bird, a horse, and a hermit crab.
Jamie is originally from New York and is a new resident to the Sunshine state. She moved to Connecticut for college where she earned a BS in Marine Biology. After college she worked as a Veterinary Technician for four years. She volunteered at a marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center and was a certified wildlife rehabilitation technician. Through all these experiences she learned to care for a wide variety of furry, feathered, and scaly animals.
Jamie moved down here to Florida for an amazing animal care job. She is excited to be able to care for animals and be able to explore beautiful Florida. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach, hanging out near the water, playing volleyball and hanging out with friends.
Being a part of the Equipaws team will allow her to combine her love for animals and love of outdoors. She looks forward to caring for your pets in the Coral Gables and Coconut Grove area!
Annemarie was born in Venezuela and raised in Palmetto Bay. She has always loved dogs and grew up with a boxer (Brownie), a German Shepherd (Kahlua), a pug mix (Mocha), and is now fur-mom to another boxer (Bo) whom she’s had since he was 6 weeks old. Animals, dogs in particular, have always made her happy. As a nurse practitioner, Annemarie spends a lot of emotional energy taking care of her patients and providing them with the best possible care at their lowest points. She’s found that spending some extra time with animals helps refuel her emotional energy and allows her to be a better mom and a better care provider for her human patients. Ideally she’d love to get Bo certified as a therapy dog and be able to take him to see patients in the hospital. If he can put a smile on her face at the end of the day, she knows he can do the same for others who desperately need it.
Carolina Maldonado is a Miami native who loves animals. She grew up with an adorable beagle named Rocky, who just turned 18 years old, and rescued a terrier mix named Wilson. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Film Production and has worked in the film industry for the past 5 years. She has a keen eye for storytelling through visual motion and enjoys video editing. On her spare time she loves to travel and discover new places.
Please welcome Sarah McLaughlin to the team! Sarah has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marine Science with a minor in Biology. She has traveled to Costa Rica and Greece working with Leatherback Sea Turtles, as well as Loggerhead Sea Turtles. After graduation, Sarah began working at Miami Seaquarium with seals and sea lions and has been there four years. She is proud to be part of an organization that takes great care of these amazing animals. She has a calico cat named Mouse and a Siberian Husky named Niiko and they are her world. She loves trying new things and going on adventures, and tries to take Niiko with her as much as possible. She loves watching her giant cuddle bug get to experience the world along with her!rch Center, where she learned how to be a trainer, and then successfully fulfilled one of her childhood dreams of becoming a dolphin trainer at Miami Seaquarium.
Please welcome Jacqueline “Jackie” Carrillo to our pack! Jackie was born and raised in Miami, Florida and she adores her dogs, a French bulldog and three Shih Tzus. She loves going riding on her ATV and line dancing in her free time. Line dancing is her number one hobby. There’s something about dancing to country music that she finds relaxing. Jackie is currently working toward a bachelor of science in nursing at Nova Southeastern University.
Kristen grew up in North Carolina and has had a variety of pets throughout her life ranging from snakes and turtles to dogs and cats. She helped to care for these guys growing up and when she went to college at NC State she studied Biology and worked part time in a veterinary office her senior year. Kristen moved to Miami for work back in 2009. In addition to her primary job she spent four years working part time at Furry Paws Dog Daycare and Boarding which allowed her to gain even more animal care experience. She currently has two fur babies, a cat and a recently rescued senior retriever mix who is adapting well to his new home. Kristen is excited to get to meet and care for all of the Equipaws crew!
Raised on a horse farm in Connecticut, Ally moved to Florida to pursue a degree in Marine Biology with a minor in Chemistry, at the University of Tampa. From there she lived in the Florida Keys where she worked as a dive instructor and an intern with several dolphin facilities. Amy moved to Miami two years ago, where she got my dream job as a marine mammal trainer. Growing up she cared for horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and even a gecko! When she’s not working she’s an active equestrian, loves a good book, and scuba diving our reefs!
Please welcome Lory Nelson Brunner to our family! Lory started her career in veterinary medicine during her senior year of high school, when she was trained as a technician in the laboratory and as a surgical tech by the top veterinarians in Miami for 8 years. Lory studied Laboratory Animal Science at the University of Miami, obtaining credentials in Laboratory Animal Science with the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). Ensuring laboratory animals are humanely treated and research is useful, she went on to be President of the Florida Branch. She advanced into Microbiology and immunology at UM. After 12 years in research, she returned to veterinary medicine part time while raising her three children, then returned full time to advance her career into practice management and outreach.
She loves learning and helping fellow pet parents and has a passion for helping others. Lory continues her research and love for science as a Quality Manager for a national Birth Tissue Donor Program. Her favorite scientific achievement is taking part in building AmnioVet, a company that uses processed amnionic tissue for wound repair, regeneration, and surgical procedures in veterinary medicine where traditional wound healing fails or is thought to be impossible.
Lory Loves to travel and has Combined that passion with her career. For over 20 years Lory has been educated and involved in all aspects of veterinary management and medicine, continually seeking knowledge to advance her career and help anyone along her path. She is now a consultant for veterinary practices to improve their protocols and procedures as well as their outreach. She joins us as to help build the Vet Tech Division, that will provide the very best at home Health care for pet parents and their precious pets when all else seems to be unmanageable.
She also runs a high volume, low cost mobile spay neuter clinic for community and foster programs around Miami, volunteers as a surgical technician, traveling to different countries to help less fortunate cities provide the veterinary care their people need for their pets.
Cesar Yenkenes was born in Peru and raised in sunny Miami. He grew up with Romeo, a miniature poodle that taught him the essentials of dog behavior. His love for animals has brought him to be the purrfect cat dad to handsome Ezio, whom he adopted in 2015. He’s happy to now be a stepdad to three more lovely cats, Pumpkin, Luna, and Drogo.
Before joining Equipaws Pet Services, Cesar was a manager at Barnes & Noble in South Miami, where he honed his excellent customer service skills and attention to detail. Cesar also studied massage therapy and has been producing music for twenty years (he is a great piano player!). He looks forward to serving our pet clients in Coral Gables and Coconut Grove!
Janet Santiesteban is an animal lover through and through, and has cared for and raised all kinds, from hamsters, birds, and bunnies to snakes, for most of her life. Her first dog Andrew was a rescue and would become the biggest influence in her calling and passion to care for animals for the rest of her life. During her teenage years, Janet and her parents lived in Central Florida, where she took to riding horses and learning to care for them. Just three years after entering the horse world she would also welcome home Tiger, her first and only cat who is still the love of her life. Janet returned to Miami after working in equine industry to be close to family again.
Janet strongly believes in the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” So she found a job working at Paws4you Rescue, where her love of the dogs reminded her of her Andrew. It was a great experience- she loved caring for these shelter dogs- and this cemented her desire to work with animals for the rest of her career. She loves all kinds, no matter the size or how much fur they do or don’t have- so bring on the reptiles and snakes, too! Animals help us all stay strong though hard times- they are central to Janet’s life. She joined our Equipaws team to fulfill her love of helping pets and pet owners. She can’t wait to meet all the Equipaws Pets!
Call (305) 794-3733 or fill out the form above on this page to ask a question or check our availability.