Home Exchange

Swap Pets for Free Pet Sitting

For people with pets, travel comes with extra stress and expense. Finding someone you trust to care for your pet isn’t easy. PetFam offers a solution to this pet sitting problem. It’s a peer to peer network connecting people with other pet owners in their neighborhood. PetFam launched this free service in Vancouver last year. They don’t have geographic restrictions, and according to the founder they have many members in the U.S. on the west coast and some on the east coast as well.

The service is actually a private Facebook group. That group currently has just over 500 members. So while PetFam does have a website, it’s not something they need developers to maintain. This is great for those running the free service. Though I could see some real value in having features like reviews and city-specific searches, which isn’t something you can do on Facebook. This might limit their growth outside of Vancouver.

After looking at this facebook group (which I can’t join since I don’t have a pet), I noticed facebook advertising other similar groups to me. For instance, there’s a Vancouver cat sitting exchange. Perhaps there are lots of other similar neighborhood or city based groups out there. It seems like a great opportunity for someone to set up a website that would facilitate communities connecting for pet sitting. Though the geographic nature of this might make it difficult to recruit a critical mass of members within any one community.

Regardless, I like the PetFam concept. Do you have community peer to peer pet sitting groups where you live?

For another sharing economy pet sitting option, check out my post about using house sitters to care for your pet.


  • We have included dogs in several of our home exchanges. My requirement to fo that is that we meet the exchangers BEFORE they get to our home, and that we meet their dog before they leave. That involves us flying in one day prior to the exchange. This has never been a problem, nor have the dogs. Everybody wss happy.

    I ALWAYS have a Plan B in case I get a bad vibe when we meet the other side of the exchange.

    • That’s a smart idea Jeanette, giving both parties a chance to interview each other before trusting strangers with your pets. I’ve also heard of people doing this same thing for home exchanges even without pets: just to get a chance to meet their swap partners in person before the exchange starts.

      • We’ve done that as well, but don’t make it a requirement. When it works out, it’s been a great thing. But not necessary to us. The house is just stuff. The pets – well that’s something ENTIRELY different.

        I do a pretty good job screening and, now, searching the internet for traces of ‘questionable items’ – particularly things that don’t match what they have told me or have put on the listing. We’ve never had a single problem in 12-13 exchanges.

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