25-year-old Alexandra Lakes is the proud owner of two young Cavoodle puppies, Winnie and George, but at certain times she also has Alfie, Freddy and Pepper come and stay - and she earns up to $700 a month for it.
After setting up a profile on pet-sitting app Mad Paws, she’s now a certified sitter, telling Yahoo Finance it’s the easiest income she’s ever received.
“It’s so easy. And I love it - I love animals,” Lakes said.
Lakes stumbled into pet-sitting after looking after one of her friend’s cats for a few nights, and realising she had a knack for it.
Then, Lakes’ Cavoodles’ puppy class teacher told her she pet-sat on the side to earn a few more dollars: “She had so many dogs all the time, and it seemed like so much fun,” Lakes said.
The teacher introduced her to the Mad Paw app, which helps link pet owners to sitters and walkers available in their area, with each user assigned a rating.
“It has your reviews and stuff like that so you can choose people with good reviews, or you can have certain badges that indicate you have a qualification in say veterinary nursing or animal studies,” she said.
Lakes found the process easy, and once she was approved by the app, owners were quick to message with meet-and-greet arrangements to confirm a possible stay.
“You make sure your dog and their dog get along, and owners can come and see your house to make sure they like the living arrangement,” Lakes said.
“People’s dogs are likely their children these days, so they want to make sure everything is okay.”
When a stay is booked, the owner pays the funds immediately to the app, like in Airtasker or Airbnb, and once the animals are picked up, the sitter gets their cash.
Setting a price
Lakes, who is based in Adelaide, initially charged $30 per night per dog, but bumped it to $35 after building a client base and completing a TAFE course in animal studies. Over the month of March, she earned around $700 from sitting.
However, you can choose how much you want to be paid.
“You want to be able to compete with the pet hotels though,” Lakes aid.
“Pet hotels are expensive, so that’s why people are looking to do this now. I’m being competitive within my area.
“You can see everyone else around you and see their rate, so you can gage what to set your rate at.”
The app then takes a percentage of your overall earnings for facilitating the arrangement, and it also covers your insurance should an accident happen during the stay.
“If an animal gets injured or stung by a bee, or if it gets hurt on your watch, you won’t pay for anything. You take it to the vet, and do what you need to do, and the insurance covers that through the app,” Lakes said.
Paid for play
Lakes doesn’t pay for dog food for the pets she sits, or anything else for that matter. She does, however, give them a lot of love and attention.
“The owners will bring you their food and their bed, their treats and toys if they like,” Lakes said.
“But I treat them like my dogs. They sleep in the bed with me, and at the end of the stay I have a little Polaroid camera to take a little photo of them and say ‘Thank you for choosing us to look after you pup’.”