ACT News

Pet sitters wanted as owners put holidays on hold

Nine out of 10 Australian pet owners have cancelled or postponed a holiday because they can't get appropriate care for their furry friend, a new survey has found. 

And dislike of sending the favourite pooch to a kennel has opened the door for an Airbnb-style website to connect owners with sitters. 

Canberrans have topped the nation for per capita downloads of the Pawshake​ mobile app, and early adopter Tara Munro, from Kaleen, says she's not surprised by the site's success. 

"To a lot of people their pets are their babies, and it's great because you know people on there are animal lovers," she said. 

"I personally don't like kennels because I feel the dogs have been put in jail, particularly for a dog that's an indoor/outdoor job, to be segregated and only let out for an hour a day."

Ms Munro, 27, has become Australia's most reviewed Pawshake pet sitter since accepting her first job, for three cats, in January. 

Advertisement

Like many sitters, the job was not simply a quick check-in, but meant spending three nights in the absent owner's home in Yarralumla. 

The University of Canberra employee has since cared for everything from rabbits, ferrets and birds to snakes and shingleback lizards. Sending photo and video updates of the pets was a regular part of many jobs, she said. 

The national survey of 549 registered Pawshake pet owners this month found almost all – 96 per cent – missed their animal friends when they were away, with 38 per cent Skyping them.  

One of Pawshake's community managers, Sarah Gaul, said pet walks started at about $10 and sitting cost between $20 and $50 a night. More than 3000 pet sitters have registered since the US-founded site began in Australia in August last year, with demand growing. 

"Demand for Christmas has been absolutely insane, I started getting inquiries about four months ago," Ms Gaul said. 

She said sitters' identities were verified and a free meet and greet between owner and sitter was encouraged. The company takes 19 per cent of sitters' fees, which covers insurance. 

PET LOVE

*90 per cent of Australian pet owners are prepared to postpone or cancel their holiday if they can't find suitable pet care.

*49 per cent say owning a pet has made their social life and relationship more challenging

*5 per cent of owners said they used kennels on a regular basis, and 69 per cent said they were impersonal and expensive.

*63 per cent of owners allow their pets to sleep in bed with them

*71 per cent of owners consider pets' welfare when making a significant purchase, such as a house or car

Source: Pawshake pet owners' survey