Dogshare is Australia’s first online dog-sharing platform, where dog people can lend a helping hand to their neighbourhood pups.

According to founder Jessica Janson, the ethos is about reciprocity, community and a “whole lot of heart”. With 24,000 members (and counting) across metropolitan Melbourne and Sydney, the service has struck a chord.

Mum to three kids and a high-energy German pointer, Janson found the pup “needed an incredible level of care that we were struggling to provide”. After casually organising to take turns dog-walking with her neighbour, she realised she was onto something.

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The result? A quasi-dating site for pet owners, where neighbours can pool their resources to ensure local pups feel loved. Janson believes that caring for pets shouldn’t feel like a job, so Dogshare keeps money out of the equation. “Like raising children, there’s a host of options out there … what’s special about Dogshare is it’s a voluntary environment.”

Services take a number of forms, including park play dates, doggy daycare, reciprocal walking, backyard sharing and longer-term weekend stays.

Janson has also worked to bring “helpers” into the fold – people who adore dogs but aren’t owners themselves. Whether they travel often, work long hours or don’t have the financial means to have their own pet, they can use Dogshare to match with overwhelmed owners looking for help.

Dogshare has seen a “big uptick in users post-Covid”. Right now, Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world – 63 per cent of households have a furry friend. That’s 33 million pets, costing the nation approximately $4.5 million a year in boarding, minding and grooming costs. The Covid-19 pandemic meant pet adoption skyrocketed as people living in lockdown turned to four-legged companions for love and affection.

While 70 per cent of pandemic pet parents feel positive about pet ownership, the New South Wales RSPCA also reported a 20-30 per cent increase in surrenders after lockdowns were lifted in 2021, maybe due to the rising cost of living, along with renewed freedom to work from an office and travel. Animal shelters are struggling under an influx of pandemic puppies.

Dogshare offers an alternative to those struggling to juggle it all and its site is designed so owners and dog-lovers can easily find each other. Janson sees the offering as a “vehicle for caring for the wider community through dogs”.

Members in major cities pay a low-cost subscription fee (it’s currently free outside Melbourne and Sydney) and upload an image of their dog with its size, age and temperament. They can contact each other directly through the site and find the pawfect match.

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