March 18, 2016
Going out of town for the weekend and need a dog walker? There's an app for that.
District of Columbia entrepreneurs Chris Gonzalez, David Comiskey and Jim Camut rolled out dog-walking app Barkly in Philadelphia on Monday. It's only the third city to receive the app, in addition to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
Here's how it works: Dog owners post the date, time and requested duration of the walk, along with information about their pet and a pick-up location. Owners can book a walker as many as six weeks in advance or on-the-spot.
"It's on-demand dog walking with as little as one hour's notice for the dog walker," Comiskey told PhillyVoice.
Walkers can be booked for 30-minute ($16) or one-hour ($28) durations; prices vary depending on whether services are booked in advance or with less than 24 hours' notice. Keys are exchanged through a free lockbox, and the service is fully insured.
For walkers, Barkly asks for applications and requests details about past experience with animals and customer service. About 20 percent of those applicants, Comiskey said, are selected and then subject to a background check. Provided they pass that screening, walkers are then brought in for a thorough orientation with information on animal behavior and how to handle different types of dogs.
Comiskey said Philadelphia was the "logical next step" as the service expands. Leading up to Monday's launch, they trained 20 dog walkers in strategic locations throughout the city. So far, there are dog walkers available in Center City, Fairmount, Northern Liberties and parts of South Philadelphia.
Comiskey said he and Gonzalez determined the need one evening when Gonzalez was late getting home and asked Comiskey to walk his dog. They mused afterward that an app would have been handy.
Gonzalez, a Johnstown, Pa., native, is currently living on East Passyunk Avenue while he sees the app through its Philly launch. You can download Barkly now on the App Store, or sign up for an account through their website.