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Apps like Rover and Wag are the 'Airbnb of pet-sitting.' But do they have drawbacks?

Posted at 12:34 PM, Jun 21, 2019

For pet owners going on vacation, it's a dilemma: Hire a pet sitter, or send it to the kennel?

Some new apps make pet sitting as easy as hiring an Uber driver — but they come with a few risks.

Angela Davidson is a pet sitter. She's a top-rated sitter for Rover, a sort of Airbnb for pets, and one of the many gig economy jobs that have flourished in the past decade.

For around $40 a night, she watches dogs for families on vacation, while keeping an eye on their house, too.

"You just want somebody that cannot just house sit but pet sit also," she said. "And it also gives peace of mind that their house is being cared for the same time their pets are."

Rover (and its competitor Wag) appeal to people like Cicely Knecht, who doesn't want to leave her beloved pet in a strange place.

"Not for a weekend or anything while I'm away," she said.

With pet sitting, dogs and cats get to stay in the comfort of their own home, so there's no worry about putting them in a strange place surrounded by other barking or crying animals.

But the services have downsides:

  • Pet sitting services have been sued for dogs dying under a watcher's care.
  • Some people complain of money and personal items disappearing from their home.

However, Rover offers a $1 million guarantee against property damage or injuries to people, and $25,000 in vet care in case the pet becomes ill or injured while in the care of a Rover dog sitter.

The Better Business Bureau suggests pet owners protect themselves by:

  • Meeting personally with any pet sitter before hiring them.
  • Reading the sitter's reviews carefully
  • Looking for sitters who have passed Rover's "enhanced" background check, not just the basic one.

Rover says thousands of people have hired its sitters millions of times, and in most cases are completely happy.

For those that don't like the idea of a kennel, Davidson says apps like Rover and Wag are a way for pets to have some comfort of their home as opposed to going to a kennel "where there's lots of barking, and they don't understand what's going on."

A sitter can take the stress out of your vacation, for both you and your pet — that way you don't waste your money.