Your dog-sitting app is probably illegal - Metro US

Your dog-sitting app is probably illegal

If you rely on dog-sitting apps in New York City, you are pretty much breaking the law.
If you rely on dog-sitting apps in New York City, you are pretty much breaking the law. (iStock)

Talk about a ruff turn of events. The apps that many New Yorkers use to ensure their fur-kids are taken care of are actually illegal per an obscure city law, the New York Daily News reported.


The law put in place by the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene states that it is against the law for anyone outside a certified kennel to accept money for boarding or walking a dog.

And yes, that includes apps like Rover and its recently acquired subsidiary, DogVacay, which helps pet owners find nearby sitters, dog walkers, boarders, daycare facilities and drop-in visitors.

In October, Thomas Merrill, the DOH’s general counsel, sent a letter to DogVacay ordering it to require that its sitters provide proof of a license before joining since they would be breaking the law if they didn’t, but the app did not comply, the Daily News reported. DogVacay was not yet owned by Rover.

“To ensure the health and safety of pets and reduce risks to public health, the NYC Health Code requires certain businesses to obtain a Health Department permit and comply with necessary regulations — this includes animal boarding facilities and kennels,” DOH spokesman Julien Martinez said. “We also conduct inspections of these facilities to make sure animals would be secure and safe.”


However, Corey Johnson, chair of the City Council’s health committee, called the law “crazy,” “antiquated” and “not practical” and vowed to change the rules with legislation.

John Lapham, who is Rover.com’s general counsel and senior vice president of business and legal affairs, agreed.

“People have been watching their neighbors’ pets since pets came to be, and unfortunately, the regulations in New York City are not in touch with how people find pet care,” he told Metro via email. “In New York, you can watch two children in your home for compensation without a license, but not a single dog or cat. Rover was successful in supporting legislation in both Colorado and California that cleared the way for allowing in-home pet sitting without a license, just as you can for children, and we’re confident there is a sensible solution for the millions of pet owners in New York City who need to secure safe, local and affordable pet care in order to own a pet.”

More than 95,000 pet owners use Rover for pet-care services, the company said, adding that more than 9,000 city residents — from students to retirees — supplement their incomes as a Rover pet sitter or dog walker. 

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