COMMUNITY

Pet sitters now just a click away

LINA GIANNAROU

TAGS: Society, Business, Innovation

You’ve managed through the year, waking up at the crack of dawn when you’ve had a heavy workload or passing on a night out when your pet’s been alone all day, but what about the holidays? What happens when you’re off to a destination where you can’t take your dog, cat, tortoise, bird or gerbil along?

After asking everyone you know whether they wouldn’t mind taking care of your pet for a few days and being turned down, rejecting kennels too because you don’t like the idea of a cage or they’re too expensive, and even consider canceling your trip, you start trawling the web for pet sitters.

The good news is that now there’s a solution thanks to www.keeppet.gr, a new service in Greece that brings together animal friends, created by people who had the exact same problem with their pets. You log on, state where you live and when you’ll be away, and the site will find someone close by who’s happy to keep your pet for a fee that is prearranged according to the services they offer.

The platform has only been up for seven months and it already boasts 550 keepers and has logged over 1,300 overnight stays. Reservations in June alone came to more than 25 nights, with 88 percent concerning dogs – from Yorkshire terriers to mastiffs – and the rest cats, parrots, rabbits and even a guinea pig. On average, dogs are hosted for four to five days (the maximum period recorded is 25 days) and cats for a week or just over.

Keeppet was created by three young professionals in the fields of marketing, finance, business administration and IT development, who’d experienced their own problems figuring out what to do with their pets during vacations or business trips.

“The idea came to me four years ago when I wanted to go somewhere but didn’t want to leave Tara, my German shepherd, alone in a kennel and ended up canceling the trip altogether,” says Fivos Pantelidis, one of the founders.

“I wanted to find a solution for pet owners who don’t want them to stay in a cage without enough attention and suffering separation anxiety. It would be great to always take them along, but that is not always possible,” he adds.

The site went up in December. Keepers are interviewed and their personal information is cross-checked. They declare their fees and what services they can offer, with prices usually ranging from 10-15 euros a day for dogs, 8-13 euros for cats and 5 euros or less for birds.

The owner needs to provide the pet’s food and is also required to meet the keeper before the stay-over date, to look at the property where his or her pet will be staying and so on. Payments are made online directly to the sitter, with Keeppet keeping a percentage of the fee.

The owner can always keep in touch with the keeper, while the platform has 24-hour veterinary support in case of emergency.

At the end of the process, the owner can assess the experience, which helps new customers make their choice of keeper.

“We are especially happy about the fact that we’ve created a great community on Keeppet,” says Pantelidis, adding that “98 percent of the keepers have been scored five out of five and most owners report what a great time their pet had.”

The founders of Keeppet seem to have hit the bull’s eye with their endeavor, filling a gap in the market. A recent online survey they conducted of 700 pet owners found that 90 percent says they’ve changed their plans after being unable to find a pet sitter and 81 percent said they have never used a kennel.

Its success is also evident in the fact that Keeppet won second prize in The Squeeze, a business competition organized by the Dutch Embassy in Athens in cooperation with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

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