New dog sitting business helps people make extra money

July 26, 2013 11:32:42 PM PDT
San Francisco Animal Care & Control estimates that there are close to 150,000 dogs living in the city with about 800,000 people. That means business opportunities.

There's a new dog care business that can help people make extra money.

Until last year, Sabrina Hernandez was supporting herself through college by working at Starbucks for $13 an hour. But recently, she's found a more lucrative way to pay her bills.

She now dog sits for a living and she has quickly built her business through a new website called Dog Vacay.

"I thought this will be fun, you know, we'll just play with dogs, but then it really turned into, you know, there's actually real money involved," Hernandez said.

She makes $2000 per month on average just by boarding a few dogs a day at her home. The owner brings food and bedding for their own dog.

The way Dog Vacay works is dog owners browse the website for a host in their area, read reviews, check social network connections and then schedule and book online.

Rates start at $15 a night. However, Hernandez charges $40 per night, per dog. Dog Vacay makes its money by charging the host 15 percent of each booking.

"The flexibility for a student is incredible. I get all my studying in, I get in exercise," Hernandez said.

But, before taking in dogs and accepting money it is important to check with your city and county regulations where you live.

Lee Ellis Brown is a field supervisor with San Francisco Animal Care & Control.

"If you are boarding an overnight boarding facility you have to have it inspected by animal control and the health department to obtain a permit," Brown said.

Hernandez gets around this law because in San Francisco an overnight boarding facility, or dog kennel, is defined by a place that houses more than three dogs that are older than six months. And, the Dog Vacay site closes your availability once you've booked three dogs for any given night.

Professional dog walker Gilbert Rodriquez says there are several things you want to check before handing over your dog to someone you don't know.

"Are they CPR certified? Are they First Aid certified? Are they bonded?" Rodriguez said.

Dog Vacay offers a dog concierge who will talk a dog boarder through any problem that might come up.

However, Hernandez says she's never really had a problem with a dog

"It's about the attitude and the vibes that you send out," Hernandez said.

A law went into effect in San Francisco at the beginning of July that limits commercial dog walkers to four to eight dogs.

They're required to carry a valid permit when walking their dogs at parks, at the port, and at public utilities commission properties.


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