On June 22, 20 dogs were found dead in a Gilbert boarding home. It was reportedly due to a dog biting through air conditioning wires, but some people are questioning whether it was due to negligence.
This is one of the many instances of uncertainty surrounding boarding homes for pets while owners go on vacation. An alternative exists in the form of PetSitnStay, a pet-sitting website formed by ASU alumni Paige Corbett and Aaron Grove.
“Paige approached me asking questions about building a matching platform for pet owners to find local pet lovers willing to provide pet care in their homes,” Grove said in an email.
The idea came to Corbett while she was working at a kennel. She said she saw negative effects the environment had on animals.
“There were pets that would sulk in the corner or not eat while their owners were gone,” she said in an email. “The stressful environment puts pets on high alert, keeping them from adequate rest.”
Psychology sophomore Travis Smith said he saw similar negative effects in his dog, Penny, after leaving her in a boarding home during a family vacation to Hawaii. Despite the boarding home holding lots of land and providing adequate time to run around outside while supervised, Smith said Penny was changed when they picked her up.
“She just went straight to her kennel,” Smith said. “She didn’t eat for like two days. And then for about a month … she would eat one meal a day instead of two. She wouldn’t have hardly any social interaction with us.”
PetSitnStay takes an individualized approach in pet care. On the website, owners can search through specific criteria to find the ideal pet-sitter. These decisions are made through options including food needs, energy levels, breed and age.
Grove said the site makes it more convenient to find a sitter that will allow for the animal’s needs.
“I think the difficulty with finding an in-home sitter before our site was launched was that there was no way to know who in your area was willing to watch your pet,” he said. “Now, with PetSitnStay, you could find someone right in your neighborhood.”
He said that sitters often run “promotions.” One of them, for instance, offers to cook natural meals with fresh meats and homegrown vegetables. Another takes dogs to the dog park.
“We encourage the sitters on our site to tailor to each pet’s individual needs, which aims to eliminate the ‘typical’ or generic treatment of pets,” Grove said.
Kennels often home many pets, which Corbett said doesn’t give pets enough personal attention.
“Each sitter is limited to having three pets at a time through our site to ensure each pet gets enough love and attention,” he said.
Although the site was only launched in late April, it is expanding quickly. The website shows it is located in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Austin and San Francisco.
“We have plans to launch in other cities featured on our home page during our first year,” Corbett said.
Corbett said he hopes that through transparency, sitters, owners and pets will be happy.
“Personally, as a pet sitter and owner, I believe in being 100 percent transparent. … I send texts, emails or photo updates for owners to see what I’m up to with their pets, which we encourage of other sitters,” she said. “We want to build lasting relationships between pet owners and sitters and offer all the resources possible to both parties through PetSitnStay.”
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