Vancouver bylaws prevent dogs from being tied to a pole or bike rack. It’s actually illegal to not be on the other end of your dog’s leash no matter how brief, and yet, we see people leaving their pets unattended all the time if they have to nip into a store to make a quick purchase.
Leaving pets alone in an unsecured environment poses a whole host of issues.
Dogs can get skittish or aggressive around other people and not everyone feels comfortable around dogs, especially without their owners nearby. Likewise, pet owners are concerned about leaving their dogs unattended in case they get distressed or stolen.
Georges Ebel, founder and CEO of PetParker in Brazil, encountered similar problems, which inspired him to start his company.
"It all started because I had an accident with my two dogs," he tells V.I.A. over a video call.
Ebel has two labs that he used to have to leave at home whenever he ran errands and he felt like he wasn’t able to dedicate enough time to spend with them.
One day, he tied them up in front of a grocery store while he ran in for something; he soon heard an announcement over the loudspeaker that his dogs had gotten loose and were causing a commotion.
He went home and started researching solutions to places that are not prepared for animals or consumers who have pets and came up with what ultimately became PetParker.
PetParker has kennels it calls “pods.” They're ventilated, temperature-controlled and large enough to fit an average-sized dog (2 ft x 2 ft x 4 ft). The “smart dog houses” hope to provide an alternative to tethering or leaving pets in cars.
Businesses rent the pods on a subscription basis and station them outside so pet owners can access them for free, though they need an app. They are also required to prove that their dogs are vaccinated and housebroken before they can access the service. The pods have a built-in camera that owners can view through the app and they're also remotely monitored by PetParker.
So far, there are over 47,000 pets using the platform at 140 businesses in Brazil.
CEO of PetParker Canada Adi Kabazo hopes to “leverage the proven product and experience,” here in Vancouver before launching it throughout Canada.
"Pets are the glue for communities," says Kabazo, who is currently working with the City of Vancouver and demoing the pods to businesses with the hope of rolling them out to the public in June.
There is a form on the PetParker Canada website where prospective pet owners can start to suggest locations where they want to see these smart kennels.
Kabazo calls the project, "city enhancement," and points out that while many businesses can’t allow pets because of health regulations, animals are increasingly a part of our society and should be accommodated.