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In this digital age, the Internet plays a vital role in our social lives, and with online dating sites like Match and Zoosk, it’s no wonder we’re using these platforms to help run our love lives as well. But, what if you’re looking for a furry, four-legged date?
Thanks to 24-year-old entrepreneur Liam Berkeley’s startup called Bark‘N’Borrow, you can. As the name suggests, the app (available to United States iOS users only) helps dog lovers who don’t have a furry companion of their own match up with a cute pup nearby for play dates and even sleepovers. The app is free for paw-rents and dog borrowers, although it also has a separate category where professional dog sitters and walkers can get paid to dog-sit.
Over in the U.K. and Ireland, an online subscription webpage called Borrow my Doggy sets up dates for people and pooches, hoping to help dog borrowers familiarise themselves with dog ownership before adopting or buying a furkid. While these online platforms seem to be a great and fuss-free way to find a dogsitter or lend a pup, like any startup, they have inevitably raised a few eyebrows.
“Pets are not commodities and shouldn’t be treated as such,” explains Kevin Yeo, a certified professional dog trainer and behaviour consultant with Pawrus Singapore. “Borrowing or leasing dogs with or without commercial fees shrinks the responsibility of owning a pet.”
Closer to home, back in 2008, a dog trainer, Herbert Lim, started a dog rental service called Easy Dogz, which offered pooches for rent. His rental business was short-lived as the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore subsequently issued the Code of Animal Welfare, stating that pet shops are not allowed to rent animals.
“Constant relocation from person to person is tough and this places a high amount of emotional stress and strain on dogs,” adds Kevin. While proponents of the borrow-a-pup concept argue that dog rental or loaning helps socialise dogs that would otherwise be caged or euthanised, some decry it as traumatic for pooches to adapt to different people, commands and environments. “The thought of allowing a stranger to borrow my dog, Ace, or renting him out is frightening. Like humans, dogs are comfortable with those they have a relationship with, and this really isn’t safe,” shares Barbara Wright, a dog trainer with Positive Puppies.