CHICAGO (WLS) — Two Chicago pet owners are raising concerns after their dogs were lost while in someone else’s care.
They say they thought they were leaving their beloved dogs in the hands of trusted caretakers, but their dogs were lost by the sitters! Now, the owners fear their pets may never be found.
“They’re family,” Jamilah Jordan said.
Jordan left her miniature pinschers, siblings Remy and Lexi, in a sitter’s care when she recently went out of town last summer. She found the pet sitter on a popular app called Rover, which links pet owners to independent sitters.
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“Three days into my vacation, I received a text message from the Rover sitter stating, ‘I know this is the message that you had been regretting receiving’ and that Remi and Lexi are missing,” Jordan said.
Jordan cut her trip short to search for her dogs in the Gage Park neighborhood where they were staying with the sitter and allegedly playing outside unattended.
“They were off-leash. Why would you leave them unattended,” Jordan said.
Both dogs were microchipped. A month later, Remy was found but Lexi is still missing.
“We need Lexi to come home,” Jordan said.
Lakeview resident Nia Morgan is searching for her puppy, Zorro, after he went missing last spring while also in the care of a sitter she found on Rover.
“I was really devastated at first, and confused and then angry at the pet sitter — at Rover. And maybe even myself for hiring her,” Morgan said.
In text messages, the caretaker admitted to driving Zorro an hour away from the sitter’s Lakeview home where he got loose.
“I just would like some resolution, even if it’s just knowing that he’s with a different family,” Morgan said.
Neither Jordan nor Morgan are happy with Rover’s response. Both consumers said the company increased the amount of money given to them for lost-dog fliers, but only after the women complained.
Rover said the company also “monitors and posts on lost-pet websites.”
Jordan said Rover also paid for Remy’s vet bill after he was found, and the company reimbursed expenses of picking up Remy from the animal shelter.
Rover said it extends its deepest sympathies, but added that Jordan and Morgan’s experiences are “extremely uncommon” and that “both sitters involved have been removed from our platform.”
“They certainly need to strengthen their vetting process,” Jordan said.
Rover said every pet care provider must pass a criminal background check, which includes making sure they are not listed in the National Criminal Database. Pet owners can also choose a sitter, who opted into an enhanced background check, which adds a manual search of county court records.
The company said over half a million stays have been booked through the platform in the Chicago area, with 97% of reviewed stays receiving a five-star review.
“Interview them as much as the pet-sitter should be interviewing you, to make sure that it’s a good fit for all parties involved,” said Jessica Abernathy, the President of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.
Abernathy said consumers should ask how long the pet-sitter has been caring for animals.
“See where they will be boarding at, and not just drop them off randomly at a house,” she advised.
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If you can, hire someone you know, or who has been used by family or a friend.
“Overall, it’s been a hard eight months,” Morgan said. “Just a total roller coaster of emotions.”
Morgan and Jordan hope the microchips in their dogs will help bring them home.
“I adopted them as a bonded pair, so that’s what’s really been difficult,” Jordan added.
You can also ask for a sitter’s last name and ask to see their house first if the dog is staying with them. Ask them to give you daily pictures and videos of your pet, and check to see if the sitter or company is insured, in case something goes wrong.
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