DogVacay.com – A Brilliant Idea… But Consider The Risks!

Dog Vacay is a new website designed to help connect dog owners and dog sitters in their local area.

At first glance I think the idea! This website can do to dog sitting industry what E-bay did for market shopping – take it from a cottage industry and into a mega-business world.

However, to all those considering using this website, especially dog owners – I urge you to consider the potential risks:

The website claims to check and interview the potential dog sitters, which is great. But what exactly does an interview tell you about the person? How do you know that the interviewee has the necessary animal skills, personality, etc. to look after your dog? Where will they take your dog if your dog is sick? So many other potential scenarios come to mind here.

Now let’s compare a ‘dog-sitter’ to a kennel. A kennel is a registered business with insurance and a reputation to lose. Of course there are bad apples in every bunch but if you have a problem with a kennel, at least there are avenues for recourse.

What about a ‘dog-sitter’? What will you do if your dog has been mistreated/neglected?

The message is – do you home work and when looking for a bargain know what you are paying (or not paying) for.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

6 comments

  1. Nicole

    I had an AWFUL situation with a dog that we were hosting from Dogvacay. DO NOT host, THEY CLOSE your account and avoid contacting you! We got a “sweet” dog as they told us, and we were going to watch it for 2 months.

    On the way home from the lady who “couldn’t” watch the dog anymore, Sunday the dog puked in my Mustang. Then the fun begins, this dog HAS BALLS so he can’t go to dogparks, which we WERE NOT TOLD, he also doesn’t like other dogs, so everytime you walked him past another house he would FLIP out or pass a dog on the sidewalk, GEEZ better hold your breath and your ears. First time we go out without him, for 2 hours we come home and everything is torn up, BCBG shoes, art supplies, remotes, bike lights, sunglasses, all kinds of stuff.

    So we decide, yea this dog needs a cage, but cannot go in the car because he pukes. so on CHRISTMAS EVE I had to go out to 3 differnt stores and use my own money and get this dog a metal cage. Fine, cage done, but lo and behold, on New Years Day we go on a brunch with some visiting friends and come home to find that the dog bent and tore through the industrial metal cage, and also tore up the carpet in the entire room! His eyes were blood shot and his bloody nails had scraped the bottom of the door frame. Imagine if he got out of that room what he would have done!

    We call dog vacay and they are like wow, oh well we need a night or two to find out who
    will take him. HAH are you kidding me, this dog needed to be outside in a wire fenced in kennel. They asked me to send an itemized list of the things damaged and I did, but after my boyfriend wrote a nasty email to the owner, they closed our account and won’t respond to my calls. The dog should have arrived with a kennel, and we should have been told he cannot be left alone. Now I have lost over $700 to watch this stupid dog and yes DogVacay has abandoned the situation and says their policy doesn’t cover personal property. WORST COMPANY EVER for hosts!~

    OWNERS, you know your dog, if it’s aggressive or has torn up your stuff, please be honest and say so, or supply a cage and proper muzzle. Be responsible for your animals.

    • Dear Nicole,
      This is an extraordinary story! I truly empathize with your situation and, with your permission, would like to turn your story into an article to discuss some of the issues you raised and to warn others. Thank you again for sharing your story.

  2. Pingback: DogVacay – Consider The Dangers! | Doctor 'Pets'

  3. Shelley

    After being in a shelter for way to long, our senior dog has horrible separation anxiety. We avoided traveling when she couldn’t come with and sometimes even shopping trips because were were so concerned about how she would do in a kennel. However, with a job interview coming up in another state, I had no choice but to come up with a boarding option and settled on DogVacay. We found a great host and our dog had a great experience at a price that was reasonable.

    You are asked about the host’s personality working with our dog… well, we had a “meet & greet” session before the overnight stay so we did get some idea of how our dog would take things as well as being able to see her home and yard. As far as vet care, both your current vet information and emergency contact information is required registering so the host knew that if they were open, she should be taken to our vet as well as how to get in touch with me and another family member at any hour of the day. (She was actually very close to our home and vet while the closest kennel was far enough away that it’s really unlikely she would have gone to our vet from a kennel in case of emergency.) The host sent multiple photographs twice a day and I think all owners know a “true” happy face so I feel like we had a reasonable assurance that she was doing well.

    I had a dog many years ago who was physically abused at a reputable groomer and there was nothing we could really do then other than not go back – of course, they refunded the fee but that doesn’t erase the damage. I also had a previous dog come home from a kennel with significant urine scald. Again – no remedy other than not to go back. Personally, I have yet to have a bad experience with DogVacay although there is the slight inconvenience that they do tend to be heavy on the promotional e-mails/spam.

    I agree that there are always risks that your pet will not be treated well when outside of your care. I also agree that abuse could be more likely to occur with a stranger in the privacy of their home than in a kennel environment with several employees. I do think it would be great if the site offered a criminal background check option for animal cruelty charges and I know most kennels do this in employment pre-screening. However, I think that owners really know the personalities and needs of their pets and with pets like ours (with separation anxiety) a “home” boarding solution is more viable.

  4. Elly

    I was recently on the other end of the spectrum. I made reservations to board my 2 Westies with a host who lives not far from me. I was away for 16 days and according to his dogvacay profile, he worked mostly from home. (I found out later this was not the case). I made an app’t with him several days before my departure so I could see where the dogs would be and how his young boys interacted with the dogs. I tried to check out the “fenced yard”, but it was dark outside & he was just feeding his children @ 8pm & didn’t want to discuss anything regarding the dogs (spayed female & neutered male-9 yrs old). I dropped the dogs off a couple of days later & brought their dog food, dishes, bedding, shot records and my daughter’s info in case of emergency. (She also had all his info, as well). I also told him that the male occasionally marked in the house sporadically. Since I was overseas, I had limited access to email. Around the end of the 1st week, I checked my email & there was a frantic message from my daughter. She had rec’d a phone call from a lady who had one of the dogs that was out in the middle of the busy street. Fortunately, my home/cell phone #’s as well as my daughters home/cell ph #”s were on the dogs ID tags, and they were microchipped. I had told the host that my dog were NOT left outside as they DIG. When my daughter asked where the lady was, she told her and my daughter gave her the address where the dogs were being boarded. Her reply was that she was right in front of that house. She was not able to get the dog & the lady had an app’t, so my daughter called the host & told him he needed to go get my dog. Turns out he does not work at home. He had left the dogs outside when he went to work. He told my dtr that he had been closing them in the bathroom while he was at work because the male was marking every day in the house & he came home at lunch to let them out. He lives on a busy street near the high school. I sent him an email that I knew about the incident & told him they cannot be left outside unsupervised. He NEVER mentioned the incident to me when he sent me “photos” of the dogs, nor did he ever apologize for the care he didn’t give my dogs. HE got paid $540 for the shoddy “hosting”. I had dropped off a quart container of canned food to mix with the dry (1 tbsp. with some water), and when I picked up the dogs, he handed back the container nearly full and that was after 16 days!
    A few days after I got home, I decided to call dogvacay.com. They wanted me to leave a review of the host on his profile. Told them I called because I didn’t think they would appreciate what I would have said. Gave them the rundown and was advised that the host had violated their policy in not notifying them that the dog got out. By the time I finished, they advised that they were refunding my money and the host would no longer be working for them. HIs profile was taken down a day later. I asked them exactly how they vetted the hosts & whether they do a home assessment and of course, they don’t.
    About a week & a half later, I rec’d a call from that host complaining that I had complained to the company and I didn’t tell him he dog marked every day! Told him the dog only does it occasionally at home and there was no way I could know he’d do it every day. Also had told him NOT to let the dogs have the run of the house & even took a gate, so he could put them in a room when he was not home. When I called the company & mentioned the situation, they advised that he had already been paid as there policy was to pay towards the end of the time period of boarding.
    At least I know he won’t be doing this to someone else. He does not know dog breeds, their traits, personalities, and was apparently only doing it to make some extra money and the dogs can’t talk to complain about the care.

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