Where can I leave my dog in Moscow while I’m away? I don’t want to put her in a kennel or a cage.

Question:

Hi Sophie, So, here’s my question: I am going on vacation to Europe, and I have a dog in Russia, but I can’t take the dog with me, and I don’t want to leave her in a kennel. What can I do? In the West, there are plenty of people who live in the countryside, and (for a reasonable price) will come and pick up your dog, and take her to their house in the country (where the dog can also enjoy a vacation), and then bring her back when you return. Can you help me find someone in the Moscow area who will do something similar–and most importantly, who is responsible and trustworthy (and will bring the dog back in one piece)?

Answer:

While there are pet hotels (called зоогостиница) they keep pets in kennels (called вольеры).  Here are some services that might be useful:

1. A website called www.dogcat.ru offers the service that you mentioned, at a private home. I did not find a phone number for them- they operate online. The way it works is that they have registered pet-sitters that they call “pet-nannies” (who I understand to be their contractors) that take the animal into their home. The company signs an agreement with the customer and the individual providing the service also signs a liability agreement. The thing to know with this service is that they have three service categories:

  • Category №1: Close to the metro, very experienced dog-sitter, many positive reviews, no other pets in the home.
  • Category №2: Mostly within the MKAD, experienced dog-sitter, several good reviews, might have other pets.
  • Category №3: Either the address is outside of the MKAD or the person has been a sitter for under six months.

Unfortunately, their site is in Russian but Chrome translate works on these pretty well:

The profiles of the dog-sitters: http://www.dogocat.ru/contact-us/place/77
The company’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dogocat.ru
Detailed info on them: http://zoo28.ru/wp/wppage/zoovip/

2. Another company that offers a similar service is http://elitepet.ru/pages/Zoogostinica.html, but of course, their website is in Russian. By phone, they explained to me that they have dog handlers that take the pets home with them in Moscow /the Moscow region. They also sign a contract with the client and have a pick-up service. The lady who emailed back explained that she wants the business but thinks it’s a bad idea to take the dog so far away from Moscow. She did not have anyone in central Moscow.

3. Instead, the lady from ElitePet recommended Berukota, http://berukota.ru,to find someone close by, and it seems pretty legitimate. However, the service is clear that it only puts people together. It does not accept liability. I have learned that you can sign a liability contract with the dog-sitter, however, be aware that in Russia it can be hard to enforce contracts should something go wrong. The upside on this service is that you can see how many ratings their people have.

4. You could also try to find  a reliable breeder. Many Russians will go back to the place where they got their dog while they are traveling.

5. Note: two of the ‘top pet hotels’ (written up by the reputable Gazeta.ru in an article on the subject), only use kennels – these companies are called Walkservice and Zoohotel

*Post update: an American Women’s Organization member just said she had a good experience with Yulia’s Dog Hotel, which is a family-owned and operated pet hotel 60 km outside of Moscow. She says, “Yulia and Konstantine will pick up and deliver your dog(s) (for an extra charge) and if the dogs are friendly with other dogs they live in the house and not in their kennels.” This business has an English translation right on their main page below the Russian. They also have lots of photos.

Bottom line: If you’re comfortable using a service to find someone and making them sign a contract, you have two options: Dogocat and Berukota.  If you want to press ElitePet to take your dog, they might still agree. But it’s weird for the customer to be in the position of asking a company to take their business.

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