Paul Ratchford can’t get enough of his five-year-old mini Australian shepherd, Juno.
As a high-energy breed, Juno needs to be walked at least twice a day, but Ratchford’s busy schedule made it difficult to walk Juno as often as she needed and finding a reputable dog walker was a challenge.
“I love to run and walk my own dog. I saw a very clear need to have a service available for those difficult times when it’s just not possible to make it home, but your dog needs the exercise and quality care,” Ratchford said.
That’s when Ratchford and Willson Cross came up with the idea for GoFetch, Canada’s first dog walking app that connects reputable dog walkers with owners in Vancouver.
The app is based on a sharing economy-model, similar to Uber and Airbnb. Dog walkers sign up online and set their own prices. The company also vets dog walkers through interviews and background checks, similar to the ones Uber uses.
Owners then log on to the app, create a profile for their dog and are encouraged to connect with dog walkers via messaging to set up a meet and greet to see if they are the right fit.
“The current offerings to dog owners across the country isn’t necessarily doing justice. We’re making it really easy,” said Cross, noting a majority of the app’s user base are millenials and young professionals.
“We wanted to make life easier for pet lovers across Canada . . . if I’m stuck at work and I need to find a dog walker, I can look at the map and find available walkers in my neighbourhood and select one of them to walk my dog.”
Within three months of launching out of Cross’ basement in Vancouver, the company has seen an “overwhelming” response with 1,000 dog walkers and owners using the app daily, a number which continues to grow.
Now, the app has launched in Victoria as well.
The city’s millenial population, working professionals and high percentage of dog owners makes Victoria the perfect market to launch the app, said Cross.
“We saw appetitie in Victoria. Victoria is well populated with millenials and young professionals. There’s dog lovers there, it’s the perfect blend.”
Cross said the company would also like to expand to Toronto and the U.S. in the future.
For more information about the app visit gofetch.ca.