People who need a sitter for their pets turn to apps like Rover or Wag. But one couple learned the importance of vetting the sitter thoroughly before turning over the keys to their house.
Jonathan Cage and his wife Jessica love their puppy, Buckley. When they went away for a few days over Christmas, they hired a dog sitter from Rover, a service sometimes referred to as "the Airbnb of pet sitting."
"We discussed that she would be here all day with him," Jessica Cage said.
But their home security system's alerts to their phones told a different story. The couple says the sitter, who was supposed to spend hours with Buckley, was barely there.
"I noticed that she had come and gone," Jessica Cage said. "She had come to do a check-in and left again in five minutes. I thought that was strange."
They reviewed their outdoor cameras.
"When we were going back through the camera footage, we pieced together that in between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., she had been there for maybe five minutes total," Jonathan Cage said.
The couple said not only had Buckley been left alone for hours, but they then discovered dog droppings in several places on the first floor.
"He had gone to the bathroom several times on the rug there, and maybe once or twice in the hallway," Jonathan Cage said.
How to protect yourself
Rover has an "A plus" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but it has been sued for dogs dying or getting injured under a watcher's care.
The BBB suggests:
- Meeting personally with any pet sitter before hiring them.
- Reading sitter reviews thoroughly.
- Looking for sitters who have passed Rover's "Enhanced" background check, not just the basic one.
Rover says it is investigating the Cages' complaint. They said they've suspended the sitter and will fully reimburse the couple for what they paid and cleaning expenses.
Next time, though, the Cages will get to know a dog sitter before trusting them with Buckley.
"Get to know the person yourself, trust yourself," Jonathan Cage said. "If something seems off, maybe it is."
That way, you don't waste your money.
Rover's full statement
"As pet parents ourselves, we are deeply disappointed that Jessica and Buckley had a negative experience on our platform."
Our 24/7 Trust and Safety team is conducting a detailed investigation and will take appropriate actions, which could include removing users from our community. In the meantime, they have been fully refunded, and we have offered to reimburse her for cleaning expenses. We have also suspended the caregiver from our community pending the results of our investigation."
Our community's trust is paramount. All sitters who offer services through the Rover platform must pass a background check, a safety quiz and have their profile reviewed by a member of our team.
For additional context, this is a very uncommon occurrence on the Rover platform...... with 98% of reviewed stays receiving 5-stars."
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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