How DogVacay -- A Dog-Sitting Startup -- Handles Dogs Who Die While Their Owners Are Away

DogVacay was founded in 2011 and it has helped hundreds of thousands of dogs avoid kennels while their owners are out of town.

Often dubbed the “Airbnb for dogs,” DogVacay connects dog owners with local dog-sitters who want to make a few extra dollars without the full-time commitment of owning a pet.

Inevitably, when you work with a high-volume of dogs, a few are going to die while owners are out of town. Sometimes they’re elderly. Sometimes, accidents happen.

How does DogVacay deal with doggy deaths on its network?

We asked CEO and co-founder Aaron Hirschhorn. He said there have been a few deaths, but the company does everything it can to help both the hosts and the owners handle it. (Note: he says there haven’t been any reported dog-nappings!)

For starters, DogVacay has a good insurance plan for both the dogs and the hosts. Hirschhorn says hosts are covered up to $US3 million and dogs are covered up to $US25,000. Additionally, there’s a 24/7 customer support team that works in shifts to make sure someone is available for hosts and owners’ needs all through the night. DogVacay’s mobile app is pretty robust too.

“On the mobile app, you can get photo updates,” says Hirschhorn. “We’re working on a lot of cool device integrations so you’ll see where your dog is on a map, how much exercise they’ve had for the day, and you can even buy them a bone remotely while you’re travelling.”

So, what happens when a dog gets injured or dies during a DogVacay stay?

“Dogs are like family, we take all that so seriously,” Hirschhorn says. “With the 24/7 customer support and insurance, we’re always there helping our hosts. We’ve watched hundreds of thousands of dogs so unfortunately there have been a couple who died. A couple elderly dogs have passed away. It’s sadly a matter of the business. Our job is to be there and support everybody throughout the process as much as possible. But it really breaks our hearts.”

Hirschhorn says DogVacay, not the host, is responsible for reporting news of a dog injury or death to the owner. They also help animals get to the vet quickly as soon as a host notifies them of a problem.

“A more common thing that will happen is a dog will jump off the bed and sprain an ankle, or a dog will eat something and get a little sick,” says Hirschhorn. “They call us and we make sure they’re immediately taken to the vet. We take care of everything, we make sure the guest is notified, let them know what we’re doing, we support the host through the experience.”

Basically, they try to have the best customer service available to help everyone through the tough time.

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