You see them everywhere – Wag!, Rover.com, Dogvacay.com (now owned by rover.com), and who knows what else. These apps! You click on your phone and someone is there to take care of your dog. Sure, maybe we’re biased but we’re not convinced that an app is the best way to take care of your pet.
You see the marketing for these apps and it’s way cool. You click on your phone and your dog’s needs are met. They then show you a picture of a dog sitting in an old-school kennel or they warn you that sending your dog to a pet care facility will expose them to some disease or another. These ads are great for playing on pet parents’ need for convenience and their fear of a bad experience at a pet care facility. Frankly, these marketing efforts work – or at least they must be working given the hundreds of millions of dollars these apps have been able to raise from venture capitalists. But is something that is good for VC money necessarily good for your dog?
Let’s start with something that the apps don’t mention right away. You are trusting the app to screen the person taking care ofyour pet. The app doesn’t actually meet this person. The potential caregiver fills out an application and maybe gets a few friends to vouch for them. While you are taking a risk having this person take care of your pet, the app isn’t taking much of a risk at all. Under current law, that app is just a “platform” so the person the app has sent to your house to take care of your pet is not an employee of the app but rather an independent contractor! This is important because if something does happen (and frankly it has happened more than the apps want you to know, and in fact, one app lost 3 dogs within a month) the app basically says, “Sorry but it’s not our fault, blame the independent contractor that you hired!” Of course the app may take some steps, like put up some lost dog posters and maybe remove the person from their app (but according to some they won’t even always do that). They take absolutely no responsibility for your decision to hire the independent contractor that they claim to have reviewed, provided training for, and taken your money to provide.
Contrast the app with a pet care facility like Pet Camp. Yes it’s true we are not a flashy app with lots of venture capital money backing us; 21 years after we opened our doors in San Francisco we remain family owned and operated. All of the Pet Camp counselors are employees; we take responsibility for them! We hire them, we train them, and while it doesn’t happen often, if they make a mistake we stand with them and you! We are part of the local community, not the World Wide Web.
Frankly, there are a host of other differences between Pet Camp and an app. Many of these differences start at the core of who we are: we are a real brick and mortar business where you can meet the people who will be taking care of your pets, visit our locations to make sure we meet your needs, and actually chat with those responsible for providing care so that you are comfortable in your decision making. In other words, we’re pet parents too who want the best for your pet just like we would want for our own.