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    Price Hikes for Pet Sitters in China During Spring Festival

    China’s growing number of pet owners are having to spend more to make sure their pets are well taken care of this holiday period.
    Feb 08, 2024#animals#business

    As the Lunar New Year fast approaches, the prices of pet sitting and boarding services in China have increased significantly at a time when more Chinese people own pets than ever before. 

    With a record 9 billion trips expected to be made during this year’s Spring Festival travel rush, pet owners unable to take their pets with them on their trips home are turning to such services instead, including services offered by unofficial vendors.  

    A review by Sixth Tone on popular platforms for pet services, including Xianyu and Maooo, found prices around 20% to 50% higher than usual, with few slots available for the official holiday period, which begins on Saturday and ends on Feb. 17. 

    In Shanghai, resident Qiuzhang Xizi said she was quoted 150 yuan ($21) per day for house sitting services offered by a local pet store for her two cats — 25% higher than usual. 

    Another pet store in the city told Sixth Tone that they have received 310 orders for cat sitting services during the weeklong Spring Festival so far, with few available slots remaining. Since Monday, the store has been charging new clients 50% more than usual.

    “Each of our cat sitters are going to visit at least 40 homes per day, spending 20 minutes at each home, or three homes per hour. It may take more than an hour at the home of an owner with many requests,” a staff member at the store said. 

    The services are most in demand in China’s first-tier cities, home to around half of the country’s pet owners. According to industry data, the number of pets in China increased 2.7% year on year in 2023 to almost 200 million. 

    Pet boarding services are also in high demand, with multiple pet stores in Shanghai and the southwestern city of Chengdu telling Sixth Tone that they are fully booked for the holiday period.

    The lucrative business has led some looking to make a quick buck to offer up their services this Spring Festival, with tags about being “poop-scoopers” being widely shared on social media. 

    Wang Lei, a 30-year-old insurance broker in Zhongshan, southern Guangdong province, is trying out pet sitting for the first time as he is not returning home for the Spring Festival. 

    He has found 23 clients so far, with 16 homes to visit on the busiest day. 

    The financial windfall on offer has been reported in Chinese media, with multiple cases of amateur pet sitters claiming to have already earned thousands of yuan this Spring Festival. 

    However, authorities are also warning about the risks involved in using the services of the nascent pet care industry, which still lacks official standards and regulations. 

    On Tuesday, the consumer protection council in the eastern Jiangsu province called for pet owners to be vigilant against unofficial pet service providers that hike prices. 

    On lifestyle platform Xiaohongshu, some pet owners have complained about unpleasant pet boarding experiences, including pet injuries and even deaths caused by negligent vendors.  

    In its WeChat article, the Jiangsu Consumer Council called for relevant departments to issue industry standards and management methods “as soon as possible.”

    Additional reporting: Lü Xiaoxi; editor: Vincent Chow. 

    (Header image: Visuals from Wang Lei, reedited by Sixth Tone)