WAUKEGAN, IL — It has been practically a month since Nia Morgan final noticed her 10-month previous pet, a poodle combine who went lacking whereas underneath the care of a pet sitter she employed on-line. Morgan mentioned her Rover.com sitter’s deception about her canine’s disappearance was revealed by way of a social media submit.
Morgan, 24, requested that her canine not be named on this article for concern that somebody may scare him away by shouting it at him, so for the remainder of this story he’ll be referred to as “Jeff.”
Rising up in San Mateo, California, Morgan all the time had a household canine and educated service canine, she instructed Patch. She mentioned she had lengthy deliberate to get a pet and, after ending college at DePaul College, was prepared for her first solo canine.
Morgan acquired Jeff in August 2020 after spending a number of months in the course of the pandemic in California together with her mother and father and their canine. Jeff and Morgan have shared a house in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood ever since.
“He is principally a roommate, a greatest pal, every little thing you want,” Morgan mentioned.
Throughout a pair of earlier journeys out of city since final summer season, Morgan was capable of have buddies handle her canine. Jeff is skittish round strangers, she mentioned, however was snug together with her buddies. However none of them had been out there as she ready for a six-day journey to go to her mother in mid-March.
Morgan mentioned she researched some native dog-boarding areas and realized about Rover.com, which she mentioned had been really helpful by different canine house owners. She developed a shortlist of 5 potential sitters on the net platform, which describes itself because the “nation’s largest community of pet house owners,” ultimately whittling the group down to 2 finalists.
Following face-to-face conferences and interviews with the 2 finalists, Morgan chosen a girl who described having expertise in a veterinarian’s workplace and working a boarding facility.
Nonetheless a bit hesitant about leaving her beloved pet with a stranger for per week, she organized for a one-day trial, leaving Jeff on the sitter’s home within the morning and choosing him up within the night.
“She simply gave me this entire spiel about what she does when canine are in her care — she walks them 4 instances a day, sends photos day by day, and he or she sends updates by means of the Rover app, simply letting the house owners understand how they’re doing, interacting with different canine and whatnot,” Morgan mentioned.
Morgan mentioned she needed to preserve asking for updates, however the sitter would supply detailed summaries of Jeff’s actions.
“She did not ship me any photos although, however she had mentioned, early on throughout his keep together with her, that her telephone was damaged so she was solely speaking with me by means of Rover.com on her laptop computer, so she form of excused herself for not sending photos or for a possible delay in her response,” Morgan mentioned. “And I believed her.”
The Rover sitter’s ruse continued over the weekend — till about 10 p.m. the night time earlier than Morgan’s flight was resulting from return.
“She messaged me saying ‘I’ve actually unhealthy information. Your canine, I needed to deliver him to my boyfriend’s home as a result of a upkeep man got here into my condominium and he obtained freaked out, and so I introduced him to my boyfriend’s home, simply to get away for slightly bit, and he sadly obtained away,'” Morgan recalled. “She claimed that my canine pushed by means of the facet gate of her boyfriend’s home in Waukegan.”
However it turned out that the sitter had truly reported Jeff lacking to Waukegan Animal Management the prior Thursday — inside an hour or so of taking him into her custody.
The sitter’s duplicity was first found by Morgan’s buddies as they headed as much as Waukegan to seek for the canine. Morgan mentioned they discovered a social media submit by Waukegan Police Animal Management dated three days earlier than the sitter admitted shedding the canine.
Morgan mentioned she realized the sitter had averted sharing her contact info with animal management. She additionally made contact with Susan Davis, a licensed humane investigator in Waukegan, who had begun a search primarily based on the sitter’s report. Given the period of time that has handed, it’s troublesome to foretell how far the canine might have travelled from the realm the place he went lacking close to the border between Waukegan and Park Metropolis.
Davis mentioned folks shouldn’t go searching for the canine and never method him in the event that they see him. Name the quantity on the flyer, take a photograph if potential, however going after him might solely push him towards hazard.
“If he is seen, please name the quantity on the flyer [773-231-9349] instantly. Do not name out to the canine. Do not attempt to chase him. Do not attempt to catch him, as a result of he’s extraordinarily skittish,” Davis mentioned. “He is in survival mode proper now.”
Davis mentioned the search was sophisticated by the truth that a Park Metropolis household who lives close by to the Waukegan location the place Morgan’s poodle went lacking has the same wanting canine that they permit to roam the neighborhood. She urged anybody who spots Jeff to depart his seize to the professionals.
Whereas the “Rover Assure” contains reimbursement for medical payments in sure circumstances, it doesn’t embrace any protection if a pet within the care of one among its sitters winds up misplaced or useless.
As Patch has beforehand reported, it additionally doesn’t cowl losses resulting from theft by pet sitters or any harm deemed to be felony in nature.
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Patch requested Rover representatives if Jeff’s sitter had ever misplaced a canine earlier than, whether or not the sitter remained energetic on the platform and whether or not the corporate tracks the variety of canine misplaced whereas within the care of the folks it pays to supply companies by means of its web site.
Dave Rosenbaum, the corporate’s senior public relations supervisor, didn’t reply the query about whether or not it retains monitor of what number of pets are misplaced whereas within the care of its sitters however mentioned incidents just like the one Morgan described are uncommon.
“We be part of with Nia in hoping for [Jeff’s] swift and protected return residence. The security and wellbeing of the pets in our group is a high precedence. This example is unusual and we take it very severely,” Rosenbaum mentioned in an announcement on behalf of the corporate. “This sitter had efficiently carried out greater than 330 companies by means of the platform; after reviewing this incident, now we have deactivated them from our group.”
Very like ride-hailing firms and different gig employee platforms, Rover depends on impartial contractors to supply its core service.
Based in Seattle in 2011, Rover firm officers in February introduced plans to go public by means of a merger with Nebula Caravel Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded particular function acquisition firm sponsored by San Francisco-based True Wind Capital Administration.
That deal values the corporate at $1.35 billion.
After her Rover horror story, Morgan mentioned she would by no means use the corporate’s companies once more.
“I am positive there’s some nice sitters on the app — I personally might join and pet sit, and I believe I am an ideal canine proprietor and good with canine,” she instructed Patch.
“Rover claims to do background checks on their contractors and the sitters that they are hiring, and I do not know what kind of overview course of they’ve with them or whatnot,” she added. “However clearly, how this sitter interacted with me and the mendacity that happened for such a protracted time period, and even the restricted outreach that they offered to me since understanding that he is been lacking — each Rover and the sitter — it is not acceptable.”