Pet sharing is growing in popularity but experts say pet owners should have a plan

Posted at 11:23 PM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 08:21:25-04

Have you ever thought, “I’d love to adopt a dog, but I work," or "I travel?”

Well, listen to this: People are now sharing the responsibility of pooch ownership.

And if it’s done right, it can be a win-win for everyone involved.

The moment Janet Eggen of Ferndale started fostering “Buddy” she fell in love. She wanted to adopt him but required some help.

“It was a challenge for me to give him what he needed. He needed a lot of exercise," Eggen said.

So, Eggen started “dog sharing” Buddy.

The Maltese poodle mix’s time is now split between Janet’s house and three other families, including Jane Hook’s.

“After the first visit alone, he was 100 percent confident and happy and felt comfortable with us," Hook said.

Each family buys food and supplies for Buddy, but Janet is his main owner and pays for his vet care.

“Having people who love your dog like you do, it's wonderful,” Eggen said.

We found part-time pets popping up all over the country – like pooches Woody, Oscar, and Queen Emma who are owned by Mercedes Nanson. They spend the day at her mother-in-law's house while Mercedes goes to work.

There are apps out there to help connect people. A couple of popular ones are Dogtime and Let's Share a Dog.

Janet posted on private neighborhood websites to find Buddy’s helpers and checked them all out.

“I was concerned about, you know, safety issues,” she admitted.

Veterinarian Lori Teller, who is on the board of directors for the American Veterinary Medical Association, said pet sharing can increase a dog’s socialization but recommends:

  • A primary owner maintains financial responsibility and decision making for the dog.
  • Get personal and vet references.
  • And do a home visit and play date to make sure it’s a good fit.

Dog law expert and Attorney Jeremy Cohen from Boston Dog Lawyers, recommends a contract to clarify things like:

  • Who is responsible if the dog bites someone?
  • What training methods will be used?
  • If the owner passes away, who has rights to the dog?

Eggen and the rest of Buddy’s extended family said they hope their arrangement inspires others to adopt.

“There are so many animals in shelters that need a home," Eggen said. "And if families can partner to share the responsibility, I think that would be wonderful."

Dr. Teller advises people not to adopt a dog unless the dog owner can meet all of the pet’s needs without pet sharing.

And, remember, dogs can live for one-to-two decades, so you’ll want to make sure you have a long-term plan in place for your pooch.