Airbnb for pet lovers? Stay in people’s houses for free in exchange for minding their pets
A website is aiming to change the travel industry by offering a unique service that combines Airbnb with traditional pet-minding services, allowing travellers to stay in different locations around the world in exchange for minding the animals of the home owners.
TrustedHouseSitters.com founders Andy Peck and Rachel Martin describe the site as a global community of pet-lovers, that allows users to stay in a range of houses, cottages, chateaux, eco-lodges and apartments in 140 different countries while caring for pets in their own homes. Homeowners are connected with like-minded sitters who are happy to provide the service in exchange for accommodation. No money changes hands throughout the process, and the website has a vigorous verification process that is provided by external experts Onfido in order to guarantee trust among users. Members can also further build their trust profiles through references, recommendations and police background checks. The site has a range of users with a variety of animal companions, including dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and chickens.
Andy Peck first had the idea for the company after spending a year house-sitting and growing particularly attached to a rescue dog in Spain. “As a house-sitter, I stayed in some incredible places, which is an understandable perk for many people - but the biggest connection I made was with this dog called Dave. It made me think other people like me might want to house-sit properties for free in order to care for pets they can’t, or don’t own back at home, and that for pet owners, this would be the best solution, so they could be free to travel.” TrustedHouseSitters.com is now the largest house-sharing website in the world, boasting a 300,000-strong community, and estimates that it has saved users more than £150 million in travel and pet care costs.
The site provides evidence from vets supporting the theory that pets respond to a new carer better than a new environment, stating that animals are particularly bonded to the smells present in their own homes that remind them of their owners, even when they are not there. Membership of TrustedHousesitters costs £89 per year and comes with free 24-hour online support. More information on the service is available on their website.
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