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DogVacay Website Finds Temporary Homes for Dogs

By David13676 @dogspired

DogVacay Website Finds Temporary Homes for DogsWhen you travel and have to leave your dog behind, you can call a kennel, hire a pet sitter — or find him a new friend online.

The website DogVacay debuted in New York and Los Angeles in March and, just in time for the summer travel season, is now available throughout the United States and Canada.

The site lets pet owners look up hosts in the area who will care for a dog in their own homes, giving a dog the food, exercise and attention you would give if you stayed home — sort of a doggy version of couch-surfing, for an average price of $25 to $30 a day.

Hosts are checked out and interviewed by DogVacay, and every owner and dog is encouraged to meet the host.

The Santa Monica-based company in Los Angeles was founded by Aaron and Karine Nissim Hirschhorn. In two months it has grown to over 4,000 hosts in two countries and from five employees to 13, Hirschhorn said.

Hirschhorn and his fiance went on a trip to visit family in 2010 and left their dogs Rocky and Rambo in a kennel. “Rocky came back a little off. She was not acting herself. She was sheepish and hiding under the desk. She is normally a happy, happy dog,” he said.

There had to be something better, they said. They let everyone know they were going to start dog sitting. “Business was booming. We got multiple calls a day,” he said. They watched more than 100 dogs during eight months.

At the end of their experiment, they had two things: enough money to pay for their 2011 wedding and a business model. They quit their day jobs, joined forces with former MySpace CEO Mike Jones to create an online community, and raised $1 million in venture capital.

The company’s website provides host bios, location, home photos, prices, availability, notes on what they can handle and reviews.

DogVacay provides insurance (up to $25,000 per animal) for emergencies, the company has a partnership with VCA Animal Hospitals, and owners can rent GPS-enabled dog collars if they want to track their pets constantly. Most hosts will email, text, or telephone owners once a day with updates on their dogs, Hirschhorn said.

About a third of the hosts are professional pet care providers, while two-thirds are casual dog lovers who might be retired, unemployed, stay-at-home moms, or veterans, Hirschhorn said. Nine out of 10 hosts have their own dogs.

Hirschhorn wouldn’t divulge the number of stays logged in the first two months, but said about half of all boarders are repeat customers.

Interviews and security checks by DogVacay and meet-and-greets between host and owner are designed to overcome concerns about adjusting to the new environment.

DogVacay has a concierge, a customer service representative who can help if there is a problem or if someone can’t navigate the website.


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