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12 Jan, 2009 12:49

It’s a dog’s life for part-time pets

A shelter in the Moscow region has introduced an unusual service – loaning out dogs. The idea has sparked a debate on its usefulness.

The idea of pet-sharing is quite new in Russia.

A shelter near Moscow, which houses dozens of homeless animals, is one of very few in Russia to offer the service of lending out its pets.

Some people can't afford to have a dog full-time, so from time to time they can borrow one.

Elena Dyadyuk, who runs the place, says it also gives homeless pets a good chance to find a loving home. She claims almost 90 per cent of the dogs taken for a couple of days stay with their borrowers as full-time family members.

“Even dogs need a trial. For example some pets react very aggressively to the smell of booze, so if you have drinking habits, you probably won't get along with such a dog. You'd better know about such things before taking the dog full-time,” says Elena.

The private shelter insists profit is not its priority when it comes to borrowing the pets. In fact they don't even have a fixed fee for this kind of rent. You may pay as much as you want. It's more of a charity donation rather than paying a rental.

Meanwhile, animal welfare groups argue if the service, started as a charity, becomes too commercial, the pets could suffer.

They say passing the dogs frequently from one owner to another could be too stressful for them, and could even encourage people to treat the dogs as commodities or lifestyle accessories.

In an internet poll more than the respondents think borrowing a dog is a bad idea.

However, Elena Dyadyuk says if the service helps some pets find a home, then it's well worth doing.