KIRO 7 reported yesterday that a car struck and killed a 4-year-old lab/border collie mix in Seattle after a dog walker his owners found through the app Wag! “didn’t follow their instructions and didn’t use a harness when taking the dog out for a walk.”
Michelle Morrissey and Kelsey Burke hired the Wag! walker to walk their dog Bandit while they were out of town. Morrissey told KIRO they left explicit instructions for the walker to always use a harness when walking Bandit.
But on Saturday, the walker called them to say Bandit slipped his collar (he wasn’t wearing the harness) and ran away.
Morrissey and Burke came back to Seattle immediately to search for Bandit, but on Monday, someone found Bandit’s body.
On its website, Wag! claims that “We thoroughly vet and test all our walkers on dog-handling experience to ensure you get top quality people you can trust, and feel comfortable with walking your dog.” However, the site doesn’t provide details regarding how it tests the thousands of walkers throughout the US.
This doesn’t mean its testing is flawed; but it also doesn’t explain what standards potential dog walkers must meet in order to be a registered Wag! walker/sitter.
And Bandit hasn’t been the only dog lost by a Wag! walker. Here are some other stories I found:
Pet Sitter Hired Through Popular App Loses Family’s Dog On Long Island (September 2017)
Dog lost by walker reunited with owner (May 2017)
Wag Loses Jack Russell Terrier Mix in Brooklyn (July 2017)
Chihuahua dies after walker hired through ‘Uber for dogs’ app loses him in Brooklyn (December 2015)
Bloomberg Technology also wrote a story about potential problems with Wag!’s business model.
Morrissey and Burke told KIRO 7 that they used Wag! multiple times with no problems before the walker lost Bandit.
We’ve never used a service like Wag! to find a dog walker because we wouldn’t feel comfortable having a stranger walk our dogs. We prefer independent dog walkers or local dog walking services that we learn about from trusted sources.
I’m sure using Wag! does works well for some dog owners. If you do use this service, please be sure to meet any potential dog walker in person and do your own vetting to ensure they are qualified to walk and/or care for your dog.