For pet owners and dog lovers, the app Rover is a gift sent from the heavens. It helps users find affordable, convenient, and accessible help with their pets when and where they need it the most, no matter how last minute the emergency may be. Like Uber or Airbnb, Rover allows people willing to take care of your dog to do so freely, making it also affordable for the pet owner. But in places like New York, people making cash by providing a service and users looking for reliable help with their pets through Rover are under attack.
Recently, the New York Health Department announced that pet sitters using the Rover app are breaking the law across the state and that’s because in New York, you are not legally allowed to take care of pets unless you’re associated with a licensed kennel.
Back in October, the department reached out to DogVacay.com, the app now known as Rover, telling the company to require its users to get licenses. Siding with app users, the company refused to comply.
As the news broke that the health department was cracking down on illegal pet sitters, many started speaking out against the state’s rules.
Twenty-nine-year-old Chad Bacon is one of them. The Brooklyn pet sitter told NY Daily News the fact he’s considered a criminal is absurd.
“The laws are antiquated. If you’re qualified and able to provide a service, I don’t think you should be penalized,” he said. After all, if his customers are happy, why would he be targeted by officials?
Using the app, Bacon told reporters, helps him when he’s between jobs, making it easier for him to be able to pay bills. Now that he’s been working full time by only using the app, he’s afraid this could put him in a sticky situation.
To those behind Rover, this type of policy hurts the poor and disadvantaged by forcing them to go through an expensive and laborious process in order to be allowed to offer pet-sitting services. The crackdown also hurts middle class and low-income pet owners who simply cannot afford to put their pets under the care of licensed professionals.
“You [are telling] the middle class you can’t own dogs unless you can pop in your Range Rover and drive to Connecticut for a boarding facility,” Rover’s general counsel John Lapham said.
Still, the department refuses to let go of the fear mongering rhetoric, claiming that without a license, pet owners are putting their beloved furry best friends in danger.
The same rhetoric all U.S. regulatory agencies employ whenever their credibility — and efficacy — is questioned.
Stories like this help to illustrate just how indefensible government interference in the market is. And yet, many well-meaning people who sometimes do agree that cases similar to this are absurd will still advocate for more government involvement in other fields.
It’s time to admit that government officials know little about the big wide world out there. Time to stop giving them the power to dictate how we should live our lives.