Portland Oregon resident Susan Dussault was traveling through Madrid in 2012 when she thought up the idea of a pet-sitting home exchange program. The Stanford-trained attorney turned entrepreneur brought the idea back home with her and decided to give it a shot.
While in Madrid, Dussault and her three sons were drawn to the numerous dog walkers they encountered. They realized that talking to the dog walkers was a great way to enrich their cultural experience and practice their Spanish skills at the same time. That’s when she had a revelation.
She realized that instead of spending hundreds of dollars on hotels or renting an apartment, she could have been house-sitting for someone and taking care of their pets. Likewise, another traveler visiting the Portland area could have been staying at her house and taking care of her pets too.
Dussault tried desperately to find someone to house-sit for her and take care of their family dog Malcolm, but she was unsuccessful. So, on top of all of their travel expenses, she also had to pay a fee to board Malcolm for the three weeks that they were away.
Dussault had previously developed a corporate culture exchange program which helped employees at a global company organize home exchanges and hosted visits. A home exchange program for dog lovers seemed liked a natural step to take.
At the beginning of March she launched Pet Lovers’ Home Exchange, a website that connects travelers looking for lodging with pet owners that need someone to take care of their animals while they are out of town.
RELATED: 18 Best USA Hotels that Allow Dogs
Her website is different than others in its class. No money is exchanged for rent or pet care services. The only time money is involved is if both parties agree on an amount for reimbursement of cleaning expenses, pet supplies, etc…
Dussault says that people can also use the site if their home is temporarily unlivable; for example, if your home is being fumigated or remodeled and you are unable to live there for a certain length of time. Right now it is free to join the Pet Lovers Home Exchange site, but Dussault is planning on adding a membership fee eventually to help pay the cost of running it.
She knows there are a lot of people that may be concerned about having a stranger in their home, but the site is set up so each user can tailor it to their needs and concerns. They can make sure they have enough information to make themselves comfortable before they agree to the swap.