Going on holiday, or just taking a few days for yourself, can be tricky if you’re a dog owner, and even trickier if you don’t have family and friends close by who are willing to lend a hand. So what do you do if you need to leave town and your pet has nowhere to go? That’s where Mexico’s innovative new service, Host a Pet, comes to the rescue.
Developed in 2016 by Daniela del Olmo and Mariel Jiménez, the concept of Host a Pet came about after Daniela’s dog Rufo passed away after a disastrous stay in a traditional kennel. Worried about the safety of animals in such places, where they’re often locked in cages and surrounded by dozens of other dogs, lacking much human interaction, del Olmo realised there must be a better way to find care for your pooch if you need to leave the city for a few days. Enter Host a Pet.
The concept is simple. Those looking for someone to take care of their animal can sign up to the website, provide their location and tell the platform what services they require. Then, as with Airbnb, they’ll be given a range of options and price points to choose from (the average overnight stay costs just MXN$250 or US$14). Previously, this all had to be done online, but with the launch of the Host a Pet app in December 2017, the whole process just became a lot more streamlined.
As for the hosts themselves, not just any old animal lover is allowed to register with Host a Pet. Each person offering their services must register through the platform and prove that they are both certified and experienced in taking care of the animals they offer to host. To help out the host, pet owners are told to provide a ‘travel kit’ full of favourite toys and treats and any medication the animal may need, so they’ll immediately feel comfortable in their temporary home. Alongside that, insurance coverage is provided for all involved, and photos and video updates are sent to the owners at regular intervals.
Host a Pet isn’t just about overnight stays for holidaying animal owners though, as those who need one-day-at-a-time care can also use the platform. Take those who work long hours, for example, and don’t want their dog to have destroyed the house once they get home. To date, the vast majority of the thousands of users and hosts are women.
While Host a Pet started life in Mexico City, it has since spread to plenty of other major Mexican destinations, such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, Hermosilllo, Puebla and Cancún, with hosts in each place offering up their homes as temporary doggy daycares. This isn’t surprising when you consider that Mexico is the Latin American leader when it comes to dog ownership, with seven in every 10 households owning a pet.
So, Airbnb for dogs and cats – what a time for pets to be alive!