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My Dog Has More Freedom Than You Do

BY LINDSAY BOYD

June 3, 2015 12:02PM

As someone who values my self-reliant, entrepreneurial lifestyle, I never thought I’d be jealous of my completely co-dependent pup. Yet, thanks to new restrictions upon Airbnb operators in Nashville, I’m finding that my 11-year-old husky wolfhound mix has more options for her vacation accommodations than I do.

In January, I decided to become a host on DogVacay.com, sitting for Nashville-area dogs when their owners are out of town. As one would expect, the frequency of bookings varies with the season, but tends to steadily increase after previous customers rate their experiences and you develop a higher customer satisfaction rating.

The beauty of this arrangement is that it allows working professionals like myself to engage in an outside interest using resources and skills I already have as an experienced pet owner with a dog friendly home. I can control my prices and schedule. In turn, prospective clients can browse hosts based on their own preferences. In short, I am operating an Airbnb for animals. I don’t need a permit from the city to open my home to those who trust me to watch their four-legged best friends. Likewise, when I go on vacation, my dog’s options aren’t restricted to a certain number of potential hosts under a pre-determined government cap of DogVacay providers.

I’m sure you see the parallels between hosting dogs and hosting people with a service like Airbnb. However, those of us residing in Nashville will no longer have the same freedoms that our pets do to shop for accommodations or open our homes to prospective vacation renters. This spring, the city of Nashville announced a new policy for Airbnb operations.

Now, not only do Airbnb operators have to pay the same taxes as hotels, but those whose homes are used strictly for “short term rentals” (or Airbnb business) must also stand in line to vie for a limited number of licenses granted by the city—available to a mere 3% of households per census tract. Those who fail to obtain these permits and adapt their services to adhere to further regulations on the number of sleeping rooms, signage, parking, and food service, will simply be out of luck—or become outlaws if they continue to operate unabated.

It’s a sad day in America when your own personal liberty is more restricted than your dog’s. It’s an even sadder day when you realize that government’s likely answer to this scenario will be to increase regulations on your dog rather than scale back the ones they unnecessarily impose on you.