It was bound to come: A Web-based rent-a-pet services for dog lovers afraid of commitment, big shots whose schedules aren't predictable enough for mandatory twice-daily dog walks, people living in lofts barely larger than a phone booth; and dog owners who want a dog-less vacation without the big fees of a boarding kennel.
Take BorrowMyDoggy.com, which connects dog-owners with people in their area looking for a temporary pet. It’s based on the same collaborative principle of sharing sites such as Airbnb, which connects people who need a place to stay with owners who will be leaving their apartments empty. Only instead of apartments, dog owners find people to take care of their pups when they won't be able to.
“The dog gets more love and exercise, the borrower companionship,” writes Borrow My Doggy founder, Rikke Rosenlund, on the website. Meanwhile, owners get an alternative to putting their pets in a high-price kennel or paying for a regular pet-sitting service.
“We match doggy owners with local borrowers for walkies, playdays, sleepovers and happy holidays,” reads the description on U.K.-based company's site. For an annual fee of £24.99 ($36.76), owners can create a profile and search for people in their area who will care for their dog for anywhere from a few hours to an entire weekend. These "borrowers" must pay a £7.99 ($12.71) fee before they are verified and available.
These internet services operate in various ways. In the U.S., DogVacay.com lets dog-lovers sign up and create a profile, much like an online dating site, describing themselves and their experience with dogs. Owners then choose a temporary host and pay them upwards of $25 a night to take care of their pets. Dog-sitters are rated by former clients on the site and receive ratings up to five stars.
“DogVacay has been life changing,” writes one host, Michael L, on the site’s testimonial page. “I’ve always loved dogs and it allowed me to leave my full time job as a developer to pursue my passion of working with dogs.”
The fee is paid from owners to hosts using online services like PayPal. While hosts are free to set their own rates, often with higher holiday rates and discounts for longer stays, Dog Vacay takes 15 percent off all successful booking payments. All reservations made on the site include pet insurance that covers some veterinary care if necessary, but doesn’t include any property damage or injury to pet-sitters.
Founded in 2012, Dog Vacay already has over 5000 Twitter followers and more than 176,000 likes on Facebook.
Sharing sites like these are only getting more popular.
ParkAtMyHouse.com connects people with empty driveways during the day with commuters looking for a cheap parking spot. Swapstyle.com allows users to swap, rather than buy designer clothes. BookMooch lets users trade books they’ve already read for something new. Freecycle connects people looking to swap just about anything.
Customers see this as alternative to letting things go to waste, while owners save money and time. “I am very grateful to be able to help out a neighbor,” writes a user of Borrow My Doggy on the website, “as well as fulfill my own need for some doggie snuggles.”
Kathleen is a money junior reporter at International Business Times....