Karly Estey has been a member of Dogtime Community, the Montreal-based company that allows users to reserve dogs for events or walks.
Her three-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Clarence, has been a working play-dog for around two years.
He’s attended over 72 events and averages three dogtime community walks per week.
“I thought it was a good idea to have him exposed to other people as well, plus it’s really convenient for me — it’s like having another dog walker,” said Estey.
The dogtime community website and app originally only allowed members to walk the dogs.
But now, participating dogs can be booked for office parties, photoshoots, therapy sessions and even birthday parties.
“People were reaching out to us,” said Dogtime Community co-founder Hugo Houyez.
“We had a lot of companies in Montreal asking if we offered such a service, which was bringing dogs in their office space for therapy use case.”
Estey said she’d gotten a lot of backlash in the past from people who thought it was unfair and cruel.
“This dog is my baby, I wouldn’t just let him go off with anybody,” said Estey.
Johanne Tasse, founder of Companion Animal Adoption Centres of Quebec, however, warns this business can be to detrimental to dogs.
“With the law that was adopted in 2015, it was a step forward for the animal welfare community in Quebec. With this business venture we’re going back again,” said Tasse.
WATCH: (June 14, 2018) Therapy dogs at the Montreal Neuro
Estey agrees, insisting only certain dogs are fit for this sort of service.
“It’s definitely a misconception. It can absolutely be bad for the dog, but I think it depends on your dog,” she said.
“If a dog wasn’t really well socialized and comfortable with strangers or new environments, then obviously I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Through the app, Montrealers can reserve the dog of their choice and pick a date and time. The owner then has to approve it.
Estey says she’s very protective of Clarence, requiring that users give their ID, send three photo updates and share their location during the walk.
“In addition to that, they need to let me know where they’re going,” she said. “They have to stay in the neighbourhood; they’re not allowed to take them in their vehicles and they’re not allowed to take them in their house or apartment.”
Despite loving the Dogtime Community, Estey believes the site should have a checklist to weed out dogs with behavioral issues.
“As a dog owner, if you’re going to be using this app you need to be responsible, you need to be sure your dog is socialized enough to go off with a stranger,” she said.
According to Houyez, there are no controls. All dog breeds are allowed and they do not conduct any background checks.
“We try to make it clear,” said Houyez. “You know you shouldn’t sign up your dog if your dog is aggressive.”
For Tasse, this business raises big concerns.
“They have emotions and what will be the impact emotional on these dogs?” Tasse said.
“I’m very concerned. We all have a dog that will bite if he feels scared and feels threatened and the whole thing is just insane and it shouldn’t be allowed.”
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