We make it possible for people to have pets in their life!

By providing quality assured services, we make it possible for people to have pets in their lives.

Photo of Susanne Roslund
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Susanne Roslund

Initiative's representative date of birth

8021964

Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Sweden

Headquarters location: city

Kolbäck

Where are you making a difference?

Sweden, Stockholm

Website or social media url(s)

Webbsite: sveahundtjänst.se Facebook: HVSO (will change to Svea hundtjänst shortly)

Date Started

November 2018

Focus Areas

  • Promote dog assisted therapies in health care and education

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €50k - €100k

Organisation Type

  • for profit: an organisations whose main goal is to make income through business gains

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

One of the owners who also run the Swedish school for therapydogs have been asked a lot of times if she can recommend a pet team to come and work in different settings. However, as we here in Sweden only do this professionally, for a living, and not as volunteers she discovered that some good pet handlers are not entrepeneurs and needed help to administrate and drive the business forward. So instead of having all pet teams starting their own companies we decided to start a staffing agency to help pet teams to reach out and spread their good work.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Research show that the positive impact of animals on peoples health is becoming increasingly important. Persons with special needs, children in special education, therapeutic caring, aging and demented persons could benefit from interacting with a dog as a fundamental part of the healing of psychological, emotional and physical problems. We would like to enhance the access to specifically trained dogs and handlers for these people.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are developing the staffing agency so that we efficiently can match competent pet teams with the appropriate establishment requiring such a team. We have trained and certified pet teams for a quality assured service. At the same time we help developing guidelines so that everybody at the work place are informed about what it means having a pet team engaged and routines to follow for hygiene, safety, non-disclosure of information etc. It is easy and safe to employ as to identify a pet team for an establishment and easy to work for us as a pet team. We also ensure the contacts with administrations. We want to make sure that politicians are informed about the positive health effects that pet teams´work is having on different target groups.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Our company is the first on the market in Sweden to provide a service that connects certified and quality controlled dog teams with establishments such as elderly care homes, schools, kinder gardens and homes for mentally challenged persons that are interested in implementing dog assisted activities. We identify the establishment´s need, a suitable dog team and are responsible for contracts, insurances, information material, quality control, reports, interaction with administrations, paying of invoices etc. We help getting the dog handler a job and the establishment a quality assured dog assisted activity. We collaborate with the Swedish school for therapy dogs and the Academy for dogs in educational settings.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy life through pets and especially dogs in our case. But some people does not have the possibilities to live with a dog and this is where we come in. We find suitable pet teams to come and visit and give quality services based on the persons needs. We provide guidelies and also make sure that the animal welfare is in place. We only work with screened dogs and fully trained. We train the handlers to work with the animals welfare in mind. For instance we always ask the dogs for consent. Our dog teams can assist in reducing isolation, therapy sessions for children or adults exposed to traumas or violence, be a support for young people in their inclusion into schools and the society in general, support children with dyslexia or other pedagogical challenges - all the examples of how the pet-human bond help people of different ages and stages of life acquire necessary skills and social competencies.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

With our dog teams, we are making a difference to many elderly and demented persons and our engagements in elderly people´s homes has increased by 100% in a year. The same is true for our engagements in different wards for children with psychiatric issues where the number of contracted hours has multiplied. The feedback from the staff especially in this sector testifies the importance of these dogs for the children that meet them and build a relation to them. We also have dog teams that are working in units with mentally challenged adults where the dog has become the reason these persons come to group activities. Words of the good work that is being done is spreading and more and more heads of establishments are contacting us for information and possibilities of engaging one of our dog teams.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

Because of the close collaboration with the Swedish school for therapy dogs we have good access to trained pet teams. We hope to open offices in more cities over time and if things work out we would like to expand in the nordic countries.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

We have one employee that works with us and he has autism and we believe that there could be more possibilities for us to employ more people with different disabilities.We believe that the work our dog teams do will lead to children not dropping out of school, less medication in health care establishments, reduce loneliness with elderly people, i.e reducing suffering and lower socioeconomic costs in the long term for the society.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

The plan in the short term is to request a subsidy for producing information material and marketing. The consultant is working on a provision-on-sales basis so that we in the medium term can multiply our missions and contracts and be able to hire a full-time sales person. We are also part of a mentoring program with our own mentor to ensure professional coaching in growing. We are growing slowly and organically with in the long term is financially sustainable without loans and credits.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The team consist of the two owners that are also board members. One owner works full time; one part-time. From this year, one consultant works on provision to sell our services. One person helps temporarily with administrative tasks. We would like to extend the team to one full-time salesperson, financial accountant and one person responsible for each of the major regions in Sweden.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

We hope to be able to give more people the opportunity to meet dogs. Both people in elderlyhomes, care faclities and schools. We would like to give more pet teams possibilities for work even if they do not want to start a business. We will continue to lobby the establishments which hire dog teams so that the profession is recognized as providing qualified services at a certain price level.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Purina page or contact

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

We give people a better quality of life and a possibility to change their situation. "I visit an old man sitting in his chair in the elderly home. He has not spoken for over three weeks. Together with my trained dog, we manage to help the staff at the elderly home to understand his needs. We do specific activities with him that enable him to explain his needs and for the staff to understand and help him. He communicates and feels more included." "I visit an adolescent girl that has stayed home from school for over two years. She has not spoken to the social workers for a long time. She will not receive help or anyone outside the family except me and my trained dog. We do activities linked to the school curriculum and help her to catch up on her schoolwork and to gain confidence to start the process to get back to school." By working with a trained dog and a handler with a pedagocigal background, we make a difference for a student and help them back to school to finish with grades.

14. Mutual Benefit: Explain how your project mutually benefits the pets involved – how is the pet not only used as tool?

In Sweden, we are now working hard to involve the animals´ welfare in our line of work. We train the handler to read their dogs very well. We also train the handlers to ask their working therapy dogs for consent. The dog should be working out of free will and it is very important to listen to what the dog wants to communicate. We also advocate for a change in the world view of this type of work. In Sweden, we do not work with our dogs as a tool. They are our colleagues and should have the same rights as their handler. If this is done properly, the dog will receive an oxytocin release and benefit from their visits/work. There is research done that can prove that. We are very eager to follow and implement what the latest research says regarding our line of work. Sara has also done teaching regarding sustainable dogs in Amsterdam at the big IAHAIO symposium. www.iahaio.org.

15. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

We have no competition regarding our line of work at the moment. There are no other staffing agencies that offer this type of services that connects establishments in need of pet teams with trained and certified pet teams. We saw this niche and a unique opportunity to start a completely new kind of business.

16. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project.

We work with organisations that provide health care, teaching/schools, psychiatric wards for adolescents and adults, libraries and other organisations, municipalities and regions that are in need of a certified pet team. We have at the moment about 20 organisations that buy our services. We have found that with our good work reputation, the word has spread and we receive requests from other entities within these organisations. They realize that there is a good health economy in our services, this line of work. By helping e.g. children back to school, and the elderly to reduce their medication because of the dogs impact or break their loneliness, this service is beneficial for both organisations and the people our pet teams meet. It is important to know that this is a profession. All teams are payed and there is no voluntary work involved and we do not rely on donations. Future collaborations include i.a. pet insurance companies and the polytechnic school for dog assisted pedagogy.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

This is too new. We have not received any awards. However, we have been offered to participate in a mentorship program as an apprentice in the region where our HQ is located. There is no financing involved in the mentorship program.

18. Your Self-Elevator Pitch (OPTIONAL): Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.

19. Financial Sustainability (OPTIONAL): Please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project, include an attached document with your detailed business plan or other equivalent information. (This information will NOT be shared with your fellow contestant, it will only be visible to you and internal Prize reviewers).

Extensive business plan attached. In short: based on what we agree with the organisations about the work that the pet team will do, our revenue will give back about 50% to the pet team and 50% will go back into the company. We do not have extensive costs. We do not have an office, cars or other big expenses, only our telephone bills, accounting, travels and small extended costs. We are not planning to take up any loans but we want to expand throughout the country and hopefully within the nordic/European region if there is anyone out there that want to take on our model. We have a big advantage in that one of our owners run the Swedish School for Therapy Dogs, which gives us access to many good pet teams. If we win we would like to use the money to invest in sales representatives that will help us expand throughout the regions in Sweden and maybe even outside our borders. We would also like to promote good workmanship and "best practise" with our model of quality animal welfare.

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