FAQ

What is the meaning behind the name "Zoomies"?


"Zoomies" is the colloquial term for the phenomenon when a dog has a sudden burst of excitement and begins running around in circles to expel pent-up energy. We felt that this was an appropriate name to describe the exact situation many of us are feeling right now; quarantine has caused us to have a lot of pent-up energy and we are eager to get outside to burn it off!




Who does Zoomies help?


Zoomies is dedicated to helping those who are struggling to safely exercise their dog(s) during the COVID-19 pandemic, but are unable to afford professional dog walking services. This includes, but is not limited to: frontline workers, teachers, seniors, those who are immunocompromised, those living with a disability, those who are pregnant, single parents, those struggling with mental or emotional hardships, those who have been left to care for another person's dog(s), volunteers of other initiatives or organizations, and those currently fostering a dog(s).




Where does Zoomies operate?


Zoomies is in operation throughout all of Ontario, Canada.




Is the service free?


Yes. Zoomies matches dog owners to a volunteer to provide free, ongoing dog walking for those in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.




How can someone without internet access register with Zoomies?


While we prefer registrants to apply through our online forms, in unique circumstances we can arrange an over-the-phone registration process. Those wishing to register over-the-phone should call +1 (437) 888-5561 to speak to a member of our team.




How are volunteers matched to dogs?


Both dog owners in need of assistance and volunteers are required to register with Zoomies using our online registration forms. Our forms are designed to give us a thorough understanding of the dog's size, behaviour, and the level of assistance requested (in the case of owners) and the availability and comfort/experience with various aspects of walking a dog (in the case of volunteers). Once we have a dog owner who has registered for assistance, we sort through our database of volunteers to find a suitable match. A suitable volunteer match requires that the volunteer be within a certain radius of the owner and that they are comfortable with and capable of properly handling the dog. We do our best to find the ideal match based on the volunteer's experience with dogs, as well as their availability.




How long does it take for a match to be made?


Matches are dependent not only on having both a dog owner in need and a volunteer in the same area, but also having a volunteer that Zoomies feels would be experienced enough to meet the needs of the particular dog(s). Because there are so many factors involved, we cannot guarantee that everyone who registers will be matched, nor can we provide an estimate as to how soon someone may be matched. That being said, we work diligently to match owners to a volunteer as efficiently as possible, without compromising the level of care we feel that the dog would receive. We ask that our registrants remain patient while awaiting a match and that they rest assured that we will do our best to make matches in a timely matter.




How will I know when I've been matched?


Once you have been matched, a member of our team will contact you to let you know via the contact information provided in the registration form.




Is there a minimum age to volunteer?


Volunteers must be 16 years of age or above to register with Zoomies. Anyone below the age of 16 who is interested in volunteering should have a family member from their household of at least 16 years of age register as a volunteer and may accompany said family member on walks. Children below the age of 16 are not permitted to walk a dog through Zoomies without the accompaniment of someone 16 years old or above.




I am a volunteer; can my family join me on walks?


Yes. Registered volunteers are welcome to bring family members from their household, including children, along with them on walks, so long as the family members are able to adhere to the health and safety guidelines documented in the Volunteer Guidelines. It is the responsibility of the volunteer to be mindful about monitoring interactions between the dog(s) and their child(ren), should they choose to bring them along. In cases where the dog is fearful or aggressive toward children, volunteers should not allow a child to accompany them on the walks. In cases where the dog is fearful of people in general, the volunteer should not invite any additional family members to accompany them on the walks. It is not recommended that volunteers bring along anyone with whom they do not reside on their walks.




What if my situation changes?


Because the nature of the initiative necessitates longer-term involvement, we understand that your situation may change during your registration with Zoomies. Should your address or availability change at any time, or should you no longer be able to volunteer with Zoomies, please send us an email and we will make the necessary changes to your profile.




How is Zoomies addressing the health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic?


Zoomies provides both dog owners and volunteers with a list of guidelines to follow. These guidelines include safe social distancing protocols, hygiene standards, the advised use of PPE, and safe dog-handling protocols. The guidelines may be found on our "Dog Owners" page and "Volunteers" pages, respectively.




Are volunteers screened?


Yes. Zoomies screens all volunteers through our personalized screening process to ensure that we only match owners to volunteers we feel are trustworthy and experienced in dog handling. At this time, it is neither practical nor feasible to require that our volunteers provide police background checks upon registering. That being said, volunteers must attest to having no previous convictions for violent crimes nor accusations or convictions pertaining to animal abuse as a condition of registration.




Are Zoomies volunteers insured?


No. At this time, volunteer insurance is neither practical nor feasible as Zoomies is neither a business nor a founded nonprofit organization, but rather a grassroots community initiative to offer assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. All volunteers and all dog owners who register with Zoomies are made aware of this prior to their registration and anyone who is uncomfortable with this model is encouraged to explore alternative organizations or businesses.




Is this taking business away from other professional dog walkers and small businesses?


No. It is important to us that we make it clear that Zoomies supports local businesses and has no intention to take business away from these professionals. As such, we only offer our service as an alternative to those dog owners who are in need of assistance, but do not have the financial means to afford a professional walker at this time. Owners who are able to afford a professional walker should support a local walker instead.




If I register, how will my information be used?


When you register, your information will be stored in the Zoomies database. Personal information will only be used as it pertains to facilitating our service and will never be disclosed to third parties. For more information, please see our complete privacy policy.




Governmental mandates are easing. Is Zoomies still needed?


Yes. Zoomies will still be very much needed for some time to come. While stores, parks, and other public spaces have started to reopen, frontline workers are still working long hours and the threat of the virus is still very much real for those who are at high-risk to its effects. Dog owners who fall into these categories will still need ongoing assistance. We would like to remind our members that while provincial guidelines and the general public atmosphere are relaxing, Zoomies requests that its members continue to adhere to the health and safety guidelines outlined in their respective guidelines documents.




Will Zoomies continue to operate after the COVID-19 pandemic?


Due to the fluidity of the current situation, it is difficult to make long-term projections. That being said, Zoomies's mission is to offer assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically, and the current projection is that Zoomies will be dissolved once the need for this type of assistance is no longer as prevalent.




How can I help to support Zoomies?


1) Donate. While we are an entirely volunteer-run organization, there are still costs associated with our operation. In order to keep our services free for our members, we rely on donations from the public. Please consider donating, no matter how small of a donation, to support the Zoomies initiative. 2) Follow us on social media. If you haven't done so already, we encourage you to join our Facebook group. Here we will post important information and updates, specialized requests for dogs with unique circumstances, and of course, pictures of the dogs Zoomies is helping! You can also check us out on Instagram (@zoomieswalksdogs) and Twitter (@zoomies7)!
3) Share. Our growth is 100% dependent on spreading the word of our initiative. Please consider sharing information about Zoomies in any other networks you may be a part of! There are no boundaries to our areas of operation, within Ontario. As long as we have both volunteers and dog owners needing assistance in the same area, we are able to facilitate our service. So please feel free to share WIDELY! We wish to help as many dogs and dog owners as possible.
If you would be interested in helping Zoomies to distribute flyers in your neighbourhood, please email us at zoomieswalksdogs@gmail.com. Alternatively, do you know of a good resource for Zoomies to reach out to? Let us know!
4) Feedback. Zoomies is a new initiative. As such, we are still navigating the bumps and hurdles involved in launching our mission. If you notice something that could be improved, or have an idea for us, we'd love to hear it! Please feel free to send your feedback or any questions you may have to our email at zoomieswalksdogs@gmail.com.