Fido might not be able to drive, but he can still hail a cab -- David Appell will be happy to pick him up.

Appell, of Riverdale, owns Fetcha Pet Taxi Service and K-9 Training.

He started the company about three years ago, prompted by a news story his mother saw about a company that shuttled kids to and from after-school activities. He thought it was a great idea, but the expensive liability insurance associated with caring for children deterred him from pursuing that business.

He realized, however, that the same business model could apply to pets. Even better, a market analysis revealed a strong need for the service in the Washington area.

The best thing about his job, he says, is being able to go out and goof off with the cats and dogs, which is far more fun than his previous career in corporate collections. He also takes pride in knowing he's providing a valuable service to pet owners who don't drive, especially in emergencies.

His least favorite thing? Getting bitten. Appell, 44, says he has had 197 stitches. Many of the animals he deals with are on their way to the vet, and they are sick or frightened. If he knows a trip will be rough, he wears special gloves to protect himself.

Appell says anyone considering this line of work should have a good deal of patience and empathy for animals -- and their owners.

And mind your business fundamentals. "Pay very close attention to your marketing plan," he said. When he got started, he bought a list of vets and pet stores in the area and made the rounds. It meant "a lot of handshaking and dropping off bagels."

It paid off. He turned a profit within 30 days.

-- Mary Ellen Slayter

David Appell and Lily do training exercises.