Tom LeGrice, founder of PetHomeStay, tells why he and his partner Bronwyn started it and what it seeks to achieve.
Tom’s Story
I have always had pets, and grew up on a farm. When I first moved to the city (in London, UK), I had to give up owning a dog, and it was a real rip for me as I like having them around. I had always felt that pets were about being social. Owing them, taking them for walks at the park, or down the beach, pets are generally fun to be around and make you a more social person. They are good for the soul and live for the moment, and are always pleased to see you. They are good with kids and show you the value of life.
But they are getting increasingly hard to look after properly. People’s lives simply don’t have a lot of time anymore. And there is a general feeling that, as they are social animals,  it isn’t healthy to leave most pets alone for 7-10 hours everyday depending on your work/ family schedule.
Well, myself and my partner Bronwyn are just like most pet owners. We love pets. And we love living  a modern, active life. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time or flexibility in the day to look after our pets as much as we would like.
So we depend on a small, tight knit group of people, family and friends to help us out with our pets when we need it. And we help them back if they need it with their pets, or pay them a little something for their time.
We recently moved house ( & country – from Wellington to Melbourne), and we needed to build a trusted social circle pretty fast to help us out with our pets as we had no family here. When we researched the local market, we were really struck by how little trusted information there is on the internet about rating different service providers. Lots of listings, not much ratings. And most seemed to be really expensive as well. Virtually all seemed to be quite far away, apart from mobile in-home sitters.
We ended up asking some of the people down at our local dog park to help us out.
But it really bugged us that whilst people would generally be happy to help out, there was still 1) no way of understanding who exactly would be able to help out, and 2) understanding the type of help they could provide (sitting, homestays, price etc).
That’s when we came up with the concept of PetHomeStay – a trusted social system where people could easily build credibility with their neighbours and exchange help around their pets. It’s about fundamentally assisting your community, earning a bit of money for your time if you want to, and helping to make owning a pet fun & easy again.
I personally don’t think anybody will become a millionaire by looking after a pet for $20-40 a night, but, if a provider does charge the money, it is a little bit of extra cash that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. I think it is great for teaching people the value of money and a job. And probably students could do with extra money doing something pretty simple. But most people will happily look after someones pet if it isn’t too much hassle organising it – and that’s what we provide.
We would love to know if there are other groups of people that would use PetHomeStay and what their primary driver would be – let us know!