Have you ever hired a dog walker? There are plenty of local ones out there. Dog walking, which is already a $900 million a year industry, is getting high tech. Apps are now available in select cities to hire a dog walker for your pooch. And while these app-based businesses aren't available here yet, it's just a matter of time for pet owners in a pinch.
"It's really been a life saver for me with my work schedule," said Alexandra Curran, who uses a dog-walking app for her pet Oliver in Los Angeles, California.
She just opens the Wag! app and she can either schedule a dog walk in advance or even "hail" a last minute walk. And within an hour, a dog walker shows up.
"I love receiving requests from Oliver and his mom, Alex," said Wag! dog walker Rachel Connell.
Once they head out, Oliver's owner gets a notification and the GPS tracking feature allows her to watch his walk from her phone. The app also allows walkers to send pictures of dogs on the go- and "potty reports.". Wag! is part of a new and growing business of high-tech dog walking.
"We wanted to build an app that would make it easier to own a dog," said Jason Meltzer with Wag!
Other apps also offer dog walking in limited cities - at the touch of a button - like Zingy and Swifto. But just who are these people picking up your pets? All the apps say the walkers are well trained and checked out. Wag! says their employment process is no walk in the park.
"We vet our dog walkers very meticulously, we are screening them to make sure they're registered vet techs, they work at shelters, they volunteer, they've been CPR pet certified, they have training background and then we background check them just for added safety," explained Meltzer.
But, do you really need a dog walker? Veterinarian Dr. Douglas Aspros says it all depends on your dog's age, health and activity level. Some need a lot of exercise and many need a "potty" break.
"It's always good to have your dog walked, it's always good to give them something to do it makes their life better," he said.
Aspros warns that you need to make sure you thoroughly research any walker or company you hire.
"You're leaving one of the most important things in your life in somebody else's hands. So you need to know that person is trustworthy, dependable has good judgment and cares about dogs," he said.
Experts say you may also want to make sure any walker or company you hire is bonded and insured.
Again, while the apps for dog walking aren't available in Northeast Florida yet, there are plenty of dog walking companies that are just a phone call away. To find one, experts suggest talking to your veterinarian about dog walkers in your area that he or she recommends.