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Dog Walker through a Gig Operator

Have you considered hiring a dog walker through a gig operator? The gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements. This definition makes sense for many of the industries, like restaurants, that use “gig” workers. People with little to no training or oversight can easily assume these jobs. When gig workers start to operate in an arena historically occupied by trained, closely managed and screened employees, the results can be mixed.

In 2015, someone approached me with the idea to create Uber for dog walking . My immediate response was, “I wouldn’t do that…”. There was no way in my mind that this could work. The potential liability outweighed the potential for financial success.

In general, the dog walking industry is fickle. A fundamental lack of regulations dominates it. Staffing is enormously difficult to come by and training is a complicated, laborious, and expensive process. Your success as a business owner is almost wholly dependent on how well you manage your staff.

As the years have passed, I have seen Wag! and burst into the markets and take up a considerable market share. Both of these businesses quickly attracted investor funds but are now being inundated with law suits and negative press. The reason? Employee classification. Both companies hire 1099 contractors which makes it illegal to train, oversee or discipline workers. According to the DOL, a 1099 contractor can technically contract another person to conduct the services they are being hired for. Without proper oversight and education, these contractors are free to perform services how and when they please. The company holds no liability when things go horribly awry and the customer is left with little to no recourse.

It takes an incredible amount of trust to allow someone into your home to care for your furry loved one. Do not let the convenience and lower cost overcome the importance of safety.

Questions regarding legal compliance in dog walking? Check out the Pet Industry Coalition web site!

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