Maybe you’re a dog lover who can’t have a pet for one reason or another. Maybe you’re a college student who had to leave your beloved pooch back home with mom and dad. No matter what the reason is, if you’re missing the affection of a canine companion there is a new app available to help you out.
Liam Berkeley is the founder and CEO of Bark’N’Borrow, a mobile app for smartphone users that allows you to select one of hundreds of available dogs that are for loan free of charge. Berkeley was surrounded by dogs as a child growing up in Australia. After a move to Los Angeles, he contemplated getting a pet, but he no longer had the time needed to care for a dog.
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Soon, Berkeley began making friends in his neighborhood. Some of these people were dog owners, so he got to know their pets too. If his friends were busy or working long hours, Berkeley would volunteer to take their dog for a walk to beach, out for a short hike or just down to the dog park for a game of fetch.
The more time he spent with dogs out and about, the more he realized that he wasn’t the only person suffering because they couldn’t own a dog for one reason or another. People would always come up to him and explain that they couldn’t have a pet would love to give his dog some love.
Berkeley would then explain his situation, and before you knew it, the idea for Bark’N’Borrow became a reality. These encounters with wishful dog lovers got him thinking about how to develop a platform where trustworthy dog lovers could connect with pet owners in their area who needed a little help caring for their Fido.
As Berkeley explains, before Bark’N’Borrow, there was no happy medium between not being a dog owner and making the commitment to care for a canine for the next 12+ years.
For a short time, a website was created for potential clients in L.A. area. Berkeley also continued meeting new dog owners and building their trust. Before long he had generated enough interest to create a rough version of the app near the end of 2014. Initial testing showed that many dog owners needed someone to care for their dog with little or no notice.
Perhaps they were asked to stay late at work or a last minute business trip popped up. Whatever the reason, that professional service element created a big draw for Bark’N’Borrow. The official app launched in November of last year in L.A., San Francisco and San Diego. Since then (about 4 months) it has expanded to New York, Seattle, Boston and Chicago.
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Users create an account that includes their phone number, home address and email address. They are also required to pass a background check. Once their address has been verified, they can connect with and access information on dog owners in their local area, other borrowers and professional dog walkers or pet sitters that charge a fee.
Viewable profiles contain a photo, qualities that you’re looking for in a dog, reasons that you want to borrow a dog and your personal information. Professional paid professionals are allowed on the site, as many dog owners prefer to work with them – especially when they need someone to watch their dog for a long period of time when they’re out of town.
Earlier this month the app hit 50,000 profiles. This earlier success has Berkeley thinking of expansion. He is hoping to launch a paid model of the app in the future that will allow every user to be insured. Part of the proceeds would also go to rescue organizations and animal shelters that the company will partner with. He’d also like to see the service branch out to include foster dogs and adoptable pets someday.