As a dog owner, I understand the desire many of my ilk have to spend every waking moment with their pet pals. That includes running to the grocery store, chilling at the coffee shop, or dropping by the library (for those who still do that). The problem is, it isn’t always practical to have your pooch tag along; many establishments aren’t pet-friendly, forcing you to tether your dog to a parking meter or post. Those options are unsafe for dogs, and in some cities, even illegal. One startups is trying to provide a better way to ensure your dog’s security while you’re trotting around the city with them; with on-demand, city-distributed rental dog houses, Dog Parker is offering a safe way to shelter dogs while owners temporarily turn their attention to errands.
The service starts by partnering with various businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, drug stores, and salons. They then install the Dog Parker-designed dog houses in the vicinity of these businesses. Members can book the dog houses directly from the Dog Parker mobile app, which can also be used to unlock and lock the enclosures. It’s very similar to Zipcar’s business model.
Membership is priced at $25 per year. Before applying for membership, owners need to make sure that dogs are vaccinated and that vaccination records are available and up-to-date. Using a dog house costs $0.20 a minute, which comes out to $12 per hour. There are three sizes—small, medium, and large—that can accommodate dogs up to 120 pounds.
There is a three hour limit on the use of each dog house per 12-hour period. The whole point of Dog Parker is to not spend too much time away from your best bud, after all, and there are cruelty concerns with leaving dogs alone for longer periods of time. If members cross the three-hour limit, they will be charged $5 per minute while the dog is relocated to a boarding facility.
One concern dog owners are sure to have is the safety (and perhaps ventilation?) of the dog houses. Dog Parker has taken a few steps to allay those fears. The single-occupancy enclosures are secured using RFID locks. Further, they offer webcam monitoring; users can snoop on their pets through a live video stream accessible through the mobile app.
Dog Parker also takes hygiene very seriously. A sanitation crew scrubs down each dog house at regular intervals to make sure that its occupants remain healthy and that no irritants are passed from pooch to pooch. They’re also temperature controlled, so you can be sure that your dog is comfortable in there. The service follows animal boarding guidelines laid down by the New York Department of Health.
Dog Parker is currently running its pilot program in Brooklyn, NY. Plans are being laid out for an expansion across the rest of New York City this year and into 2017. The startup has raised $405k so far and is part of the current Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator class. The accelerator, based out of Chelsea in NYC, offers startups a four-month program during which participants are given access to over 300 mentors from the NYC startup community.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.