Why renting a dog is dividing Hampstead

A PET-SHARING phenomenon is dividing the animal loving community of Hampstead

Katie Davies

A PET-SHARING phenomenon is dividing the animal loving community of Hampstead.

Dog sharing, the American trend for having part-time pets, has hit the capital and many residents are starting to share their animals with other families.

One firm, Flexpetz, has announced it is moving to London this year and will rent dogs to people to look after for a day or week at a time.

And individuals are setting up their own casual arrangements to divide dog time.

Reg Wright needs help to look after his pets after his wife Emma Foa was tragically killed in a traffic accident on her bike in King's Cross last year.

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The couple bought two dogs, Polly and Flynn, just a week before she died. Mr Wright came up with the idea of sharing when faced with the difficult decision of what to do. He put up postcards across Camden last week and has already received plenty of responses.

He said: "We chose to get the dogs when our lives were different and we thought someone would be at home with them every day.

"I work all day, as do my daughters so it is just not right to leave them by themselves.

"I dreamt up the idea of dog sharing and I had no idea that it already happened and was becoming a craze. Since we've done it, I've read about lots of companies. Our case is quite specific, but I think it has the potential to be a very sensible and responsible way of looking after dogs.

"For example, if you go on holiday lots of companies offer kennels but I remember our last dog nearly gnawed through his leg he was so mistreated. We have met a couple of people but have not chosen anyone yet. You obviously have to be very careful and make sure they will be able to look after the dog the way you do."

But some dog organisations have questioned the idea, especially when businesses are involved.

Pet Search UK has spoken against it and The Kennel Club is also understood to be opposed.

Many animal experts say that, vetting, so to speak, is the most important thing.

Hampstead resident Angela Humphery, who has rescue dogs and links to various animal charities, said: "Dogs are pack animals and like their owner to be a leader. "However, if the other person is reliable and the dog will be looked after I think sharing in some circumstances is a good idea.

"What I don't like is the thought of dog for rent and I wouldn't support these companies. I think its terribly confusing for the dog."

Anyone interested in helping look after Polly and Flynn can contact Mr Wright on 07976747338.