Estelle Fourie – Owner
Estelle started her business with a typewriter and an answering machine from her kitchen; after struggling to transport her own pet across the country.
While Animal Travel has since grown into a thriving business, Estelle is still hands on and involved with much of the day-to-day tasks. “I’m passionate about animals, my work and my staff,” she says.
Her passion hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2003, Estelle was nominated as a finalist for the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year award.
She also works closely with the Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA). Estelle served as a board member for the organization for four years before serving as its Regional Director for Africa and Middle East. Today, she sits on the association’s ethics and awards committees.
When she isn’t looking after your pets, she spends time with her three grandchildren and her own fur babies: four cats and two German shepherds.
Riekie Fourie – General Manager
Estelle’s daughter Riekie literally grew up with Animal Travel and lovingly refers to the business as her sibling.
She joined the company, fresh out of high school, as a driver. She slowly worked her way through the ranks is now the business’ general manager.
Riekie says the happy ending when a pet gets to his/her destination is what makes her job worthwhile. If it wasn’t for Animal Travel, she’d probably be doing something else related to furry friends. “I’m bored when I’m not surrounded by animals,” she says.
She isn’t joking. Her home is filled with five cats, four dogs, three chickens and two fish.
Vaughn Kukard – Operations Manager
Vaughn started with Animal Travel as a driver, before working his way up to operations manager.
“The more work I take on, the more I enjoy my job,” he says. Vaughn loves helping people and reuniting families. He thrives on feedback from clients, many of whom he’s been working with for years.
While winters are for staying cozy with his wife, French bulldog, three Dachshunds, two Cats and two African Grey’s, he really flourishes in summer. When the weather’s good you can catch Vaughn exploring day trails, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.
Shirley-Ann Kukard – Senior Pet Travel Consultant
Vibrant and bubbly Shirley-Ann doesn’t waste time telling you how much she loves animals. She really lights up when she gets four-legged visitors at the office. “Puppies, dogs, cats… any animal that I can love and that I can take care of… that’s my favourite part of the day.”
While working with Animal Travel she’s had the opportunity to work with baboons, lions, snakes and “lots of” parrots.
Her favourites are dachshunds. She has three of her own. Shirley-Ann recently became the mom of Gary the French bulldog and says: “The Frenchies have stolen my heart.” She’s also owns two cats and two African Grey parrots.
Dominyc Taylor-Pollit – Senior Pet Travel Consultant
Born and bred Capetonian Dominyc started her career in the tourism and hospitality industry and even worked at Disneyland’s Animal Kingdom before joining Animal Travel.
As an animal travel consultant, Dominyc loves building relationships with customers who are so impressed with her service, most of her clients are referrals. Delivering great customer service is important to her.
She shares her home with her husband, three cats, three dogs and two “two-legged” animals: her children.
When she isn’t managing her zoo, Dominyc creates magical children’s parties as a hobby. She can also be found at the Western Cape German Shephard Dog Club, where she takes her dogs for training.
Nick Nortier – Senior Pet Travel Consultant
Nick grew up wanting to work with animals, but life got in the way. When he decided it was time for a career change, Animal Travel’s name kept coming up. He took a chance and contacted the company. Before he knew it, he was working as a driver.
That was 14 years ago. Now Nick works as an animal travel consultant and says he loves the challenge of being busy, except when he gets distracted by cute puppies and rescues.
When he isn’t looking after your fur children, Nick goes home to his four kitties and two dogs.
Erica Venish – Pet Travel Consultant
Erica met Estelle as a recruitment consultant. When she went through the job description, she decided to apply herself.
“I love animals, this is my perfect job,” she says. “It’s my job, it’s my hobby, and it’s a lifestyle.” Erica’s love of animals is contagious and she genuinely treats every animal she comes across as her own.
Bull terriers hold a special place in her heart and she’s been a “Bullie mom” for 30 years. She also owns two ridgebacks and two kittens.
When she isn’t enjoying puppy kisses, Erica loves cooking and supporting her favourite rugby teams — the Stormers and off course the South African national rugby team the Springboks.
Bernice Venter – Pet Travel Consultant
As a cat breeder, Bernice’s seven Maine Coon cats are her pride and joy.
The former property administrator met Estelle at a cat show and now she’s one of her domestic animal travel consultants.
This laid-back lady’s love for animals is contagious. When she isn’t sending out quotations you can find her cuddling up to a kitty or riding a horse. She also regularly shows her cats and has helped others learn the cat show ropes.
Jaco Steenkamp – Pet Travel Consultant
Bubbly and full of enthusiasm, Jaco is an export animal travel consultant who’s quick to point out that he works with owners’ children, not “just animals”.
Jaco started with Animal Travel as a driver in the busy season, seven years ago. He’s also worked as a credit clerk in the accounts department, but he’s much more comfortable working with people and pets. He is passionate about animals and customer service.
The self-confessed gym fanatic says he prioritizes his health. His son, Steyn, is the apple of his eye and he tries to spend as much time as possible with him.
Melanie McLachlan – Import Consultant
With a decade of animal transportation experience, Melanie now works as an import consultant.
She loves getting to know her clients and making sure their fur children get to their destination safely. Melanie has imported some pretty interesting animals. She particularly enjoys working with reptiles.
After a long day at work, she goes home to a menagerie which includes four dogs, four cats, a bunny and even ducks. On the weekend you’ll find her exploring Cape Town’s beautiful hiking trails with her trusty sidekick — a crossbreed named Skollie.
Herman Stolz – Pet Chauffeur
Herman is a quiet man, until he starts talking about his beloved Boston terrier, Bonnie.
He had already worked for another animal transportation company before joining Animal Travel. Before that, he was a graphic design lecturer.
As an animal handler, Herman spends a lot of time on the road where he gets to witness family reunions; his favourite part of the job. “Nobody can buy what I see,” he says.
Away from Animal Travel, Herman is a keen archer and loves to spend time hiking. He is totally hooked on Lindt chocolates.
Ryan Leach – Pet Chauffeur
To say Ryan knows his way around animals is an understatement. He cut his teeth as a senior instructor for the South African National Defense Force’s dog unit.
During his time in the military, Ryan got the chance to learn some basic veterinary skills, which makes him the go-to guy when it comes to vet visits. His complete understanding of animal behavior means he can make almost any pet feel comfortable.
When he isn’t wrangling animals for Animal Travel, you’ll find Ryan handling animals on set for the film industry or training dogs overseas. “You can’t do this work if you don’t love animals,” he says.
Helda Beckett – Bookkeeper
Helda has been with Animal Travel for more than 25 years and was one of the company’s first employees.
She started as a seasonal driver before she became a consultant and then a bookkeeper, where she’s at her happiest. “I love figures,” Helda says.
Away from the office, Helda enjoys spending time with her daughter and granddaughter. She’s crazy about sports and can’t pass up an opportunity to dance.
Tina Roux – Creditor’s Clerk
As a creditor’s clerk, Tina knows her way around numbers. Now she’s enjoying learning her way around different breeds, with Animal Travel.
When she isn’t crunching numbers, Tina spends a fair amount of time looking after her “large” family of five. She also spends time with her 13-year-old Jack Russel and her “totally spoilt” dachshund cross. “Wherever I go, she goes,” Tina says fondly.
She loves escaping from the city on weekends, when you’ll probably find her at her favourite holiday spot — Kleinmond. “I’m absolutely crazy about the beach.”
Robert Adams – Warehouse Manager
Robert is a soft spoken man but ask him about office dogs Gary and Ruby and his face lights up. “When I come in the door they just run towards me.”
In fact, he likes animals a whole lot more than people and enjoys playing with the animals who visit Animal Travel’s pet lounge.
Robert calls himself a “plain and simple” man. A listener, not a speaker, he has a surprising, special talent up his sleeve. Robert plays pool competitively and when he isn’t practicing at home you’ll find him taking part in a tournament. “It relaxes my mind and calms me,” he says.