Russian dog owners offer pets for rent as excuse to walk outside despite Covid-19 ‘stay home’ order

The quarantine in Russia leaves people with few legit excuses to go out. Some dog owners are willing to rent their pets to restless clients, so that they could take a walk not be stopped by the police.

People in many parts of Russia, including the capital, are supposed to stay home to curb the spread of Covid-19. A handful of exceptions is made, including for dog owners who need to walk their pets, but even those are expected to keep the walks short and not stray further than 100 meters from their home.

The loophole creates an obvious temporary business opportunity. Want to have a pretext to be outside and not risk a fine — why not rent a dog? The idea is all over the Russian social media and in some news on Tuesday.

Finding a person willing to loan his or her pet is easy-peasy on, Russia’s popular alternative for Facebook.On a closer look however it seems most of the posters there are simply joking, considering such offers often go with a suggestion to take out the author’s trash — another daily chore that can be done under the quarantine rules.

Others post suitable memes: “Meet Pooch, the only dog in our apartment block. He had 60 walks today.”

A handful of people may be actually committed to the business scheme, according to the newspaper Izvestia. At least they advertise their services through free online boards and have some details of the proposed arrangement though over, like the value of a cash deposit, or covering cost of the taxi if the dog is needed half across Moscow.

Russians are hardly pioneers is using clever tricks to dodge quarantine. The Spanish police denounced rent-a-dog ads targeting would-be confinement breakers. And its environment officials warned that animals adopted for the sole purpose of going out may end up abandoned after the epidemic lockdown is lifted.

How popular the service would be in Russia is still debatable. On the same ad pages, one could find, for example, an online drinking buddy. One such message says for 20 bucks an hour you’d get a guy fluent in three foreign languages with a ton of stories about his day in Africa, who can sing a client’s favorite song after a drink or three.


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