Americans love their dogs and, of course, Americans love their money. And where those two intersect is a golden goose for business.
Two articles clearly point that out today. Despite the “tough times” that so many politicos keep railing about, this country has scrounged up more than 55 BILLION dollars for our pets over the last year. Bob Vetere, CEO of the American Pet Products Association, says he expect that record to be topped in 2014, possibly hit 60 billion dollars in sales of pet paraphernalia. You can read more about that here.
In another story about the financials of Fido, investors have thrown a bone to the pet-sitting website Rover.com. The website promises to connect pet owners with others who will board or babysit their pets in the person’s home for a fee. It is similar to the human version, Air BNB, and other dogsitter sites, dogvacay.com and sleepoverrover.com. In its third round of financing, Rover.com has dug up 12 million dollars.Rover.com is the brainchild of CEO, Aaron Easterly and sprung from a bad experience he had with a traditional kennel. As someone who operate a not-quite-traditional kennel, I have issues with this business structure. Not to sound like a bad sport, but I have thousands of dollars invested in my business and countless hours in training and education for myself and my employees, not to mention the absolute headache of dealing with my local municipalities to secure al proper permitting, getting inspections, insurance, and everything else that goes along with that. None of that applies to these pet-sitter websites. A person signs up and they’re done, good to go. While the attraction of this model is obvious, home style boarding, the reality can be much different. Who can check on the site to make sure it is operating safely? Who does the background check on those signing up? Who is responsible for ensuring the sitters are doing as they promise, not simply locking a dog in a bathroom for a week?
Not that I think all kennels measure up to the gold standard. If you are considering boarding your dog anywhere or looking for daycare, you should visit the place, check reviews and ask for references, check the BBB, ask questions and demand answers. Here is a link to the Humane Society’s rundown of things to look for and if you have questions, please feel free to contact me. Taking care of dogs, after all, is what I do for a living, not a few extra bucks on the weekend.