My Pet founders Lili Wenzel and David Johnson shared with their dogs Miss Muppet the Border Terrier and Snout the schoodle. The attached photo
A pet-sharing platform that can be likened to Tinder, which brings dogs and their owners together with people without animals who need companionship, is growing across New Zealand.
Share My Pet, started by Lili Wenzel and Nelson’s David
Johnson, has over 2,800 Kiwis paying to use its platform that connects Kiwis with pet owners to establish relationships with the end goal of handing over their beloved pets.
The company was founded in 2018 and has 700 pet profiles listed on its site, about 85 percent of which are dogs, although cats, rabbits, llamas, horses, bearded dragons, and guinea pigs are also listed for short-term care.
Share My Pet says Auckland’s North Shore could be considered the country’s most prolific dog-sharing area, closely followed by Gray Lane.
It has strong engagement constituencies across the country, including in Nelson, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Dunedin.
Wenzel, a literacy teacher by day, and a business owner by night, says her platform has been popularly used by seniors looking for companionship after the death of their pets, students looking for a stress-relief company, as well as families who love animals but haven’t been able to. Own pets due to rent or busy work schedules.
“My pet’s engagement is getting to know the pet’s owner and getting to know the pet.
“Personally as a pet owner, I don’t want to hand my pet over to a complete stranger; I want to go for a short walk with them, explain how my digs react to certain situations and what their orders are, and really get to know each other so that one day they can No getting out of this relationship and pet engagement can become overnight,” Wenzel told the Herald.
A pet profile or “pet borrower” can be created initially for free, but when it comes to connecting with others, it costs $75 for a one-year membership.
In order to “borrow” a pet, you need to own a fully fenced property and adhere to the rule of keeping the pet up front at all times unless otherwise negotiated with the owner.
“We advise people to contact three to five people in their area and as such there is a high success rate. They meet and get along in the real world and the entire business is built on the principles of trust and open communication.”
Wenzel says some people have signed up to use the platform to arrange play dates with other dogs, while others use it as a way to keep their pets’ social lives rich.
“In the past two years, we’ve seen a massive increase in site membership and usage,” says architect Johnson.
Share My Pet says it makes it easy to book about 50 dog appointments each week. On average, 10 to 15 people were signing up each week.
“It’s about forming a relationship with both pets and pet owners and their families and bringing communities together,” Wenzel says.
“Initially when we started Share My Pet we were only thinking about lonely, bored or energetic dogs that maybe walk once a day and could benefit from a second walk or some extra companionship, but one of the first things we realized was how connective it was to all of the people those around him.”
Wenzel says Share My Pet relies on word of mouth for growth because the company can’t afford advertising. About 80 percent of its users are women.
She refers to the business as a “pet library.”
Business founders work in their spare time around working full time, and they can run the business remotely.
Some of the dogs on the catwalk go to the dog grooming center three times a week, someone shares their pet twice a week, and the other dogs take care of the holidays when their owners are away.
The platform has some of the site’s most coveted pets, including Wellington-based Timmy Gill, a “very social” Sydney silky who has shared since the platform launched four years ago and has three long-term caregivers.
Nelson-based Indy, a seven-year-old Cross Terrier, conducts the rounds and Jose Cavodel, who has joined Share My Pet as an 8-month-old puppy and now 2-year-old, is an incredibly social friendly dog Share With the elderly and families with young children and regularly goes to school.
The platform is popular with smaller hybrid dogs such as poodle crosses; snoodles and schnauzers and plenty of caves, particularly in the Auckland area, as well as labradors, retrievers, collie, malton and the odd Rottweiler.
Wenzel says the business takes the safety of pets and caregivers very seriously with the dogs listed on the site being very social. Each pet profile is checked and ensured that it clearly states if the pet is suitable for children and pets, along with any existing medical conditions.
In the four years in the business, there were no safety incidents, except for one case when a common dog had to make an unexpected trip to the vet after feeding it bones. Share My Pet encourages its members to obtain pet insurance.
Wenzel says New Zealand is becoming “more dog-friendly” and that the popular pet-sharing movement in Europe is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand. I loved that Share My Pet was allowing to share the love of pets.
“I’ve fallen into happy tears a few times, especially when it comes to seniors – I love the idea of being a part of mending a broken heart or helping people’s mental health.”
‘Sharing pets helped my mental health’
Becks Hide, a Nelson-based teacher, has been using Share My Pet for three years, regularly borrowing dogs to bring into the classroom for her students to enjoy.
The Waimea Middle School teacher used to bring her Jack Russell to class before her death last year, and then began borrowing dogs to bring in two to three times a week.
Hide recently got a puppy and brings it to school with her every day, and in the future she will include it in Share My Pet.
“It was a great experience for the kids in class,” says Hide.
“You made a huge difference to a number of students, especially the most vulnerable students in the class.
“It’s interesting to watch the dogs that come in, they are drawn to the students who need them most. They don’t distract the students and the students take care of the dogs and clean them when we go for walks.”
When her dog died, Hide became more involved in caring for other people’s dogs.
“When I lost Jack Russell, she was 17, I was devastated and being able to keep getting doggy hugs from other people’s dogs and help them make this time more bearable. My little dog, she went everywhere with me, so being able to take advantage of Share My Pet after losing a dog helped me through some tough days.”
Hide says Share My Pet has helped her mental health and has noticed the difference dogs have made to her students, and others who use the platform.
“My mental health and the mental health of the children have improved dramatically.”
“The whole night concept into the classroom has given the kids an opportunity to spend time with a dog – it’s fantastic.”
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