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Airbnb for dogs has investors woofing

There's big money to be made in the dog-boarding business.

At least that's the hope for the investors pouring money into DogVacay, a website for dog owners seeking sitters who can provide an alternative to kennels. DogVacay confirmed to CBS MoneyWatch that it recently raised $25 million in a round of funding, bringing its total venture funding to $47 million.

While that may seem like an extraordinary amount of money for a service as basic as pet sitting, DogVacay says it's just getting started. "We're thrilled with how far we've come so fast, but this is a long-term business and still early days," said Aaron Hirschhorn, CEO of DogVacay, in a statement announcing the funding.

How dogs express their emotions

The company says it has more than 20,000 screened and insured pet sitters across North America. It offers those sitters to dog owners who are going out of town, promising a cage-free environment, daily photo updates and free pet insurance. Dog sitters set their own prices, giving the company a 15 percent cut.

DogVacay, often described as an Airbnb for dogs, said recently that it has booked 1 million nights for pets using its service and that 90 percent of those bookings took place in the last 18 months.

The company told CBS MoneyWatch that it plans to use the new funding to grow its community of dog-watchers. It's also working on expanding its line of services. Hirschhorn has hinted at an international expansion in the company's future.

The company said it wasn't actively seeking a new round of funding, but was approached by Omers Ventures, the investing arm of one of Canada's largest pension funds. DogVacay liked what Omers had to say. "For us, it was a decision about securing a great partner for the future," a company spokeswoman said.

Other investors included a number of high-profile Silicon Valley venture capital firms, such as GSV Capital, First Round Capital, Benchmark, Foundation Capital and DAG Ventures.

The dog-sitting business in the U.S. is extremely fragmented, with mom-and-pop operations dominating the field. DogVacay doesn't have many other rivals operating on a national scale. One of those is, which operates in thousands of U.S. cities and which has raised $25 million in funding since it was founded in 2011.

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