Big news is RIGHT! Rover and Amazon in the same sentence are huge but the fact that they are working together to provide access to homes with pets is a major topic.
I want to break this down from a few levels and a few perspectives. I’ll discuss how this technology feels to me as a pet sitter and as a pet parent but I also want to discuss the doors that this joint venture opens and the skeletons that might escape.
But first, here is Amazon’s video on the new service, it doesn’t include the visual of a dog walker but they say, “grant access to the people you trust, let’s say you need to remotely manage guest access to the front door of your home, maybe to let in your dog walker”.
On the assumption that it’s safe and reliable – let’s just assume because that’s an entirely separate blog post to discuss, I think this is pretty darn cool. I’m just talking tech here, follow me for a second.
As a pet care provider:
I would LOVE to implement Amazon key into my business, like LOVE! Gone would be the days of getting keys, tracking keys, carrying keys, copying keys, getting keys from the front desks of apartment complexes and worse, getting keys back from employees. As I write this I have a staff member who hasn’t worked since July and also hasn’t returned her office keys. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could just deactivate her as a user on my Amazon key entry?
If all of my clients were to use Amazon key we could be more efficient and more accountable. We would know who was where and when. Yes, we have a software program that provides GPS but this is yet another way to oversee with little effort. I am so game for this.
Mostly though, keys, physical keys take up so much time, space and effort. I have a wall in my office with a pegboard filled with keys. People move, locks break etc. I haven’t added up the hours I have spent logging, tracking, being locked out or even looking for lost keys but I can assure you it’s substantial.
I am not blind that technology can certainly fail just as a well as a physical lock. Your phone could die, break or for some unknown cyber reason, just not work. Things could get configured incorrectly, there are a myriad of possible issues, but there are with real keys too.
As a pet care business owner who provides door to door service primarily walking dogs, THIS seems awesome.
As a Pet Parent:
I would like to try it. I can’t say I am in love as I have reservations but I am certainly very willing to see how this works. I would definitely allow my pet sitter and cleaning service (if I had one) to have access to my house. I’m not sure I would let the delivery person and here is why:
The pet sitter and cleaning service I would have met with prior to allowing access. That is not something I would waiver on given my household of animals. One of my dogs is loose and she has free roam of the house. Should a package delivery service come and for some reason miss the note about the dog (I assume they have a notes section as to where to leave packages), not secure the door or just plain let her out, my life would be devastated.
I am very curious as to how Amazon intends to handle that – the loose dog, cat or what have you in the house. It can be scary for the delivery company as well as the unsuspecting animal who is not expecting a total stranger to just open the door. My dog mom brain is throwing up tons of red flags.
It’s pretty clear that our world is going this way. We can already lock our cars, arm our houses, record TV shows, turn down the lights or temperature from our phones, why not open our doors? It makes sense and the idea of the access only being allowed to specific people makes sense too. Of course, there are worries about hackers and such but with a company as big as Amazon, we assume they’ve thought of that too.
Besides letting a strange-to-your dog or cat person into your door to deliver a package, now Amazon has clearly made it easy for most any service to come in, including a dog walker. Wag! has already been doing this with key boxes they mail to pet parents that sign up so that anyone that accepts the Uber-like booking for a dog walking can have access. The fault with that system is the code remains the same until you physically get home to change it and update it. With Amazon key, you can change it before they come, or deny access.
In general, the premise is amazing but this throws up too many red flags for me as a pet parent and pet care business owner. Unlike Uber or Lyft, you really don’t mind and often don’t want to meet your driver before you get in. The profile picture and description of the car are far better than climbing into a standard taxi cab, but they are providing a public service.
Even though dog walking, in particular, uses public sidewalks to walk dogs, the service is very much private. Much like a cleaning company, dog walkers are entering your home, but besides seeing what’s in your hamper, the dog walker is handling one of your most prized possessions – and let’s be honest – to me my animals are as important as children.
Would you let just anyone with granted access come in and babysit your kid?
Rover in their defense does encourage their independent contractors to set up meetings prior to performing any service, that is wonderful but it is not required. It can be the choice of the sitter or the client. This certainly differentiates an Uber driver from a Rover walker but an Uber driver has more education than a Rover or Wag! sitter.
In order to drive, you must have passed a written exam, given by the State Government. If you are a teenager, you have to pass the written exam and a physical driving test. Where I grew up in Maryland, we had to test with a State Trooper, talk about nerve-wracking!
While Rover and Wag! have vetting processes, they do not have the control the state does nor do they have the oversight. There are police out there on the streets to police the rules of the road. If we break the law by speeding we face fines, charges and depending on the severity, the right to drive or jail time. With Rover or Wag! you can break their policies or rules but you get kicked off their platform, nothing stops you from providing pet care for yourself or working for someone else.
Letting out the Skeletons
We live in a gig economy, we’ve pressured high schoolers to go to college and take out huge loans. We’ve then simultaneously lowered the entry to the job market and provided easy ways, or gigs to help make up the salary difference. While delivering groceries, shuttling people around town and renting out your spare room are impersonal ways to make great extra cash, walking someone’s dog is anything short of impersonal. You’re walking into their home, their life and handling one of the most important sentient beings to that person.
Dogs, in particular, have a wide-set of behaviors and ways to communicate with us. While many dogs wag their tail and their bums around when just anyone walks in the door, not all dogs are equipped to handle such strangeness.
Then there is the element of injury. Even the happy-go-lucky pup could step on glass or a live wire and then what? Does that dog walker know what to do? If their time is up are they going to spend the extra time to stop the bleeding or resuscitate your breathless dog? Will they even know how to handle the situations? These are the questions I want to know before I grant access to that person to my home and animal.
I’m not saying companies like Rover and Wag! are doing bad things, they’re getting our pals out and moving but just like a teenager has to attend school and pass two exams before they can get behind a wheel of a car, is it too much to ask that anyone handling a pet be certified in Pet First Aid and CPR?
I had to be tested by State Trooper in order to earn my way out onto the open road, I am curious about how you feel about requiring certification and basic education requirements for people handling pets?
Drop me a comment or submit your own opinion.