Sharing pets for play dates

Ted walks . . . University of Otago lecturer Lesley Smith (left), of St Kilda, and student Lisa Hammersley, of North Dunedin, walk dog Ted on the path to Second Beach in St Clair on Saturday. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

The founders of a business matching pets and people for play dates visited Dunedin on Saturday.

Share My Pet co-founder Lili Wenzel said she and her husband David Johnson launched the pet sharing website in Nelson about 18 months ago.

The online platform connects pet owners (sharers) and people without pets (carers) and had been compared to a dating site, such as Tinder.

On the site, the carers and pets have profiles.

A pet’s profile includes information such as breed and temperament.

Pets profiled on the site included birds, cats, chickens, horses and rabbits.

The sharers and carers could engage in activities such as walking, cuddle time, grooming, feeding and holiday care.

The couple were on a road show to promote their product across the South Island and were in Dunedin on Saturday.

Mrs Wenzel said the event at Long Dog Cafe in St Clair was a chance to spread the word of the business.

Anyone could register free of charge and visit the website to see the pets available in their city.

“You may love the look of a cute chihuahua or a particular pony – that’s when you pay the membership fee.”

The annual fee was about $50 a year.

Nearly 1000 people had registered nationally.

The business gave 50% of its profits to registered animal welfare charities, and offered free membership to anyone undergoing treatment, or recovering from, cancer, she said.

University of Otago lecturer Lesley Smith, of St Kilda, said she lent her dog Ted to student Lisa Hammersley, of New Plymouth.

Neither of them used Share My Pet but they supported the concept and how it had benefits, such as better mental health.

Miss Hammersley said her landlord did not allow tenants to have pets in her North Dunedin flat and she took Ted for walks when she was feeling stressed or needed a study break.

Ms Smith said she had lent Ted out for an overnight stay when she was out of town and everyone involved benefited from the arrangement.

“Ted had a way better time with a friend rather than staying at a kennel.”