So you love pets, but your landlord doesn't. Or you have these things called a "full-time job" and a "tiny flat", meaning there's no chance of rehoming a dog. Or you just don't have the money to own one because those things are EXPENSIVE, and that's before you've bought a £78 cat teepee on a whim.
Well, you can now be a flexi-time pet owner by taking care of someone else's animal. Whether you want to take a dog for a walk once a week or look after someone's cat for a month, there is a pet owner out there who will gladly thrust a lead or basket into your hands.
Borrow My Doggy connects dog owners with dog lovers. Sign up, create a profile, and you'll be matched to dog owners in your area. If they think you look like a responsible adult, you all meet up to see how you get on. Assuming the dog doesn't take an instant dislike to you, you're good to go. Choose how often you want to commit to dog-walking, or even if you could mind a dog for a weekend or longer. Won't Sunday afternoon walks be so much nicer with a neighbourhood dog trotting along by your side? Especially if it's the one in the picture. I bet he wouldn't poo or roll in mud or eat kebab off the pavement on your watch. He'd just gaze lovingly up at you, making you feel like a superhero.
PetRetreat is a brilliant service. It's a pet fostering service for families fleeing domestic abuse. Set up by the RSPCA and Women's Aid, it matches fosterers with families who are going into refuges. Apparently one reason that women don't leave their abusive partners is fear of what will happen to their pets. PetRetreat rather magnificently gets round that. As a fosterer, you'd look after their pet for around 4-6 months until the family is settled in a new home. They cover the costs of food and equipment like cat litter, leaving you to (a) do an awesome thing and (b) hang out with your new furry friend.
I love the Cinnamon Trust. They've been going since 1985, helping matching up pet-loving volunteers with old and unwell pet owners. You can sign up as a dog-walker and get matched to local people who can't walk their dogs any more. Full disclosure: I've been a member for three years and haven't been matched up yet, leading to dark thoughts of pushing over people in the park just so I can walk their dogs for them. You may have more luck depending on where you live, though.
You can also foster or adopt pets through the trust. Check out William the cat, above, an elderly puss who has been adopted by a couple and their sheep statues. He's delighted, honestly, he just can't express that on his face. He's smiling on the inside.