About Our Owner

Betsy Hicka designed and built Almost Home Pet Resort in 1992 to fulfill a life long dream, after extensive research on all aspects of what makes a successful boarding kennel. Her over 40 years experience as a kennel worker, professional dog groomer, certified Veterinary Medical Technician and professional breeder of show-quality Standard Poodles makes her an ideal owner/operator of a facility that is accredited with the Pet Care Services Association.

full bio

Your Pet’s Premier Place For Fun


Click on picture above for slide show of our staff at work for you.

THREE GENERATIONS of a family-owned business. Owner, Betsy with mini poodle, "Gidget" and her daughter Jennifer, a proud Mom holding baby Brayden.

Administrator, Jennifer T.

As a family-run business, Betsy’s daughter, Jennifer has been with us since the early days of only 3 employees. As Administrator, she is invaluable, and with her B.A. in Business Administration from University of South Florida, she knows what it takes to run this business.  It is her smiling face and laughter that greet the customers on a daily basis.

Office Manager, Teresa L.

Usually the first person you meet, she is pet loving and people friendly!  Teresa has been with us as our office manager and customer service rep since 1999. She loves her two Chihuahuas and Australian Shepherd at home, and has been known to give special care to some geriatric little dogs as needed. Teresa is a NASCAR enthusiast.

Master Groomer, Annette C.

Annette has been with our company since 2000.  She started out as an animal care technician but soon discovered her love for grooming dogs.  In 2001 she completed the comprehensive course study in professional grooming at the Academy of Animal Arts, Inc. in Largo, FL.  She does beautiful work on all the animals she grooms, and has even competed in creative grooming contests. In 2008, she competed in National Dog Groomer’s Association of America and won 2nd place in the Sporting Dogs category.  Her beautiful Standard Poodle, “Edward” is an attest to her scissoring skills and great eye for a balanced design.  She is active with her family in 4-H showing of dogs and she is an accomplished breeder and handler of her own long-haired Chihuahuas.

Groomer, Brittany R.

Brittany has been with us since 2006 and she too started out as an animal care technician.

Her desire to become a groomer was due to Annette’s skill, and so Annette took her under her wing to become an apprentice groomer.  She has succeeded in learning the skills well and has proved to be very proficient in making pets look their best.  Brittany loves reading (especially the Twilight Saga series), movies, participating in animal related charity events, loves baking and taking her dogs to the Bark Park. Her dogs include Mini Poodle, "Bella" and Lab Mix, "Panda Bear"

Bather/Brusher, Sonya G.

Sonya has been a valuable employee since 2005 where she started as an animal care technician, and she too, showed an interest in working with the groomers.  She is one who can bathe, brush, and blow-dry many dogs in a day. As a true animal lover, she particularly loves the challenge of working with those “bully breed” dogs that have had a negative experience with grooming-she will win them over and soften their demeanor.  She too loves the Twilight Saga series, participating in the Humane Society events, reading, and movies. 

Animal Care Technician, Linda V.

We nick-name her “Ms. Clean” because she is the best cleaner bar none!  Since 2004, this native New Yorker has proved her love of the animals she has cared for, be they the numerous animals here and, of course, her own two dogs and over a dozen cats at home!

Her experience working with various Humane Society and Animal Services has been invaluable in her work here.  She is still active in animal rescue and welfare groups.  In her spare time she loves gardening, concerts at the Ford Amphitheater, and taking her dogs to the Bark Park.  She aspires to someday have a place for rescued dogs, perhaps calling it “Second Chance Ranch.”

Animal Care Technician, Brandon L.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals.  While Brandon is quiet and a person of little words around here, he works hard and has a gentle, calm handling of the animals and they react very positively towards him.  He enjoys the one on one playtime with the dogs. In his spare time, Brandon likes video games, and TV, and someday, hopes to join the Marines.

Animal Care Technician, Sarah P. 

Sarah has worked at Almost Home since May of 2007. An avid animal lover, Sarah has worked with animals since she was very young.  She has been a member of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) since middle school, and is the current president of FFA at Brandon High School where she proudly attends.  She has participated in many animal related projects such as showing her farm animals in competition and Veterinarian’s  Assistant  competition where she was to perform small animal care tasks.  Upon graduating from Brandon High in June of 2010, she plans to attend Saint Leo University in August where she will major in Biology.  Her hopes are to go on to Vet School and start a large animal vet practice.

Animal Care Technician, Whitney A.

Whitney is a student at Hillsborough Community College working towards a degree in criminal law to eventually work with the Law Enforcement's K-9 Unit. She has followed her passion with working with horses and dogs since she was 15 yrs. old. As a graduate and alumni of Brandon High School, she was active in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and used to show swine.  She lives at home with 2 dogs, one of which she acquired while working at Almost Home, a little Shiorki-poo named "Tater".

Animal Care Technician, Carissa C.

Bright, always cheerful and smiling, Carissa’s love and care for the animals is there.

Born in Upstate New York, she and her family moved to Florida when she was around 3 yrs. old.She enjoys working with all animals, and especially loves riding and caring for horses. She will attend USF in the fall to study Nursing and hopes to pursue a career in Nurse Anesthesiology. Her dream is to one day own her own house and stable with land out in the country.


Business owner of Almost Home Pet Resort:

Betsy has been CEO of Almost Home Pet Resort since 1992 and in 2004 she received the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce Minority and Women-owned Business of the Year Award.  In her own words, her is her response:

“I am so excited that you have honored me with this award!  I wish to thank the Brandon Chamber of Commerce for their support and decision and also the wonderful customers in Hillsborough County that have supported our business and allowed us to care for their pets.

But truly, I could not be here today without the help and dedication of my very special staff.  I started Almost Home Pet Resort as a vision, but a dream cannot be born without the help of others.  I wish to thank my facility administrator, my wonderful  daughter, Jennifer T. for her tremendous help and determination to keep everything running smoothly.  And all my staff members for without them, this would not be a 12 year success story.  With the grace and blessings of God, we will continue to serve this growing community of pet lovers for years to come. Thank you so very much!”( October 8, 2004)

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