Las Vegas Dog Owners Blame a Pet-Sitting App for Lost Pets
LAS VEGAS – Holidays are quickly approaching. We have to leave our animal family members behind when we go on vacation.
However, Investigators has a warning for pet owners who are considering using an online pet boarding service.
Jodi Leishman, whose dog “loves people and like, he wants to be around people,” says this of her pet.
Louie, Leishman’s dog, is just like any other dog in that he hates being left alone. More than seven years have passed during which time the Leishmans have owned Louie, a Pekingese-Shih Tzu mix.
Daria Spears: “As of right now, he is still sleeping here. The answer is yes, you did keep it.”
Dr. Jodi Leishman: “Yes. Just so he can have a good aroma of him, of his bed, while we attempt to entice him in, if we can locate him, I toss it in my van before we go searching.”
Louie has been missing for a month, according to 13 Investigates. During the Leishmans’ October family vacation, they left their dog, Louie, with a dog sitter they found through the Rover app.
The sitter messaged them less than 24 hours later to say that Louie escaped during a fight at her house.
Currently, “Louie is running so afraid,” as Mike Leishman, Jodi’s husband, puts it.
The Leishmans have spent the past thirty days looking for Louie, posting fliers throughout town, using social media, and following up on any leads they’ve found.
Jodi Leishman reports, “I’ve had four images emailed to me today.”
They’ve communicated with Rover as well. Rover offered a $500 prize and paid for numerous flyers, despite the fact that its pet sitters are independent contractors. An excerpt from Rover’s response to 13 Investigates reads as follows: “This is an extremely rare occurrence, and we are treating it as such. When we found out Louie was missing, our Trust and Safety team worked around the clock to find him…”
Still, Louie can’t seem to find his way. Additionally, this is not an isolated occurrence in our valley.
On June 18th, Frankie, a Goldendoodle who was boarding with a different Rover sitter, managed to escape. Frankie’s owner informed Clark County Animal Control that “when the sitter leaves the residence, he leaves all of the dogs outdoors,” and that she was “…worried since the dogs were outdoors with very little water,… in the severe heat warning with no extra cooling.”
No one ever tracked down Frankie.
The “Rover Kills Dogs” Facebook group details these and other concerns from users across the country.
One man said that he had left his two dogs with a Rover sitter and within an hour had received a call informing him that the smaller of the two dogs had been hit by a car and had died.
Alteration is also present.
petition on Change.org with 15,966 signatures demanding that Rover either upgrade its dog sitting requirements or shut down.
Petition creator, a Los Angeles resident, claims she left her dog with a Rover sitter in June of 2021 “After only a few hours, the Rover sitter lost track of the dog, and 18 hours later, I came across her at the side of the road. A automobile had run over her and killed her.”
Rover declined to send a representative to be interviewed on camera. They informed us through email that they’ve read the petition and decided against it, adding, “Many of the listed issues have already been addressed by features we have implemented. For instance, sitters should prepare for the possibility that a pet will become misplaced while in their care. In order to assist you, our Trust and Safety team is available around-the-clock, every day of the year.”
“Due diligence needs to be done when you are trusting your pet into the hands of another,” explains Kathryn Aull.
To date, Aull has fostered and rescued dogs for eight years through K-9 rescues. She needed some more cash, so for the past two years she has been using Rover to provide in-home dog-sitting, daycare, and boarding.
It costs $25 to run a background check when you create your profile, as Aull explains. You can pay an extra $10 for a more thorough investigation of your background.
She claims it was a few days before her profile was finally activated.
According to Aull, “you do also have to complete watching certain videos from Rover on their safety and their protocols.”
She claims she never spoke to a human during the procedure and that everything was handled automatically by Rover. But she stresses the need of initial face-to-face communication between pet owners and sitters.
You should “perform your due research and follow your intuition” if you have a dog that “dashes for the door” and “may” be heading out the door, adds Aull.
Is that sufficient?
David Orentlicher, a lawmaker in Nevada, says these incidents are disturbing and calls for increased safety measures to be taken.
Orentlicher examines the benefits and drawbacks of online gig marketplaces.
“They provide several advantages to the general public and to workers,” Orentlicher explains. To the average consumer, “greater convenience” equates to “frequently lower prices.”
However, there may also be some drawbacks.
Orentlicher argues that the lack of regulation can lead to many difficulties, using the examples of ridesharing and Airbnb.
In order to better prepare for the upcoming legislative session, Orentlicher says he wants to hear from pet owners who have had negative experiences with internet sitters.
Some national animal rights organizations have spoken out about the risks associated with using pet-sitting apps. The following is a statement released by PETA;
“Leaving your dog, cat, or rabbit with a complete stranger is like giving that person custody of your pet. It is important to do background checks on anyone who will be caring for your children or pets, whether they are human or nonhuman. Even if apps like Rover don’t technically “hire” anyone, they do bring together those in need of a service and those who are prepared to provide it, and tragic outcomes like this can arise as a result. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would advocate for stricter regulations and training for these service providers, and we advise pet owners looking for a sitter to first ask for recommendations from people they trust, then check those people’s references thoroughly, and do whatever else they can to make sure the person in charge of our beloved pets’ well-being is trustworthy.”
Contact the Las Vegas Doggie Task Force at (702) 265-4404 if your dog ever disappears.
On its whole, Rover’s statement reads as follows:
“As pet parents ourselves, we join with Louie’s family in hoping that he is quickly found and safely reunited with those who love him. This situation is highly unusual and we take it very seriously. As soon as we were informed Louie was missing, our 24/7 Trust and Safety team immediately took action to help bring him home, including sponsoring a $500 reward, paying for hundreds of flyers, and posting in online pet-finding forums that send alerts to local shelters and veterinarians. We have also issued Louie’s family a complete refund.
The safety [rover.com] of the pets and people in the Rover community is a top priority for our team. We require every pet care provider to pass a criminal background check [rover.com] provided by an industry-leading third party, in addition to passing a safety quiz and having their profile reviewed by our team before being approved to list their services on the platform. Our Trust and Safety team is available around the clock to assist pet care providers and pet parents, and every booking made through the platform is backed by the Rover Guarantee [rover.com].
For additional context, the vast majority of bookings on the Rover platform go exactly as planned. More than 149,000 services have been booked in the Las Vegas area, with over 97% of reviewed stays receiving 5 stars.”
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