Many dog owners enjoy heading out for a daily stroll with their beloved pooch. And of course, every dog loves going for a W-A-L-K more than just about anything.
But sometimes, finding the time to fit in a daily walk just doesn’t work with your schedule. This is where the app Wag!, the “Uber of dog walking,” comes in.
The breakthrough service promises busy dog owners “a trusted dog-loving neighbor or friend at your beck and call!”
The app connects them with dog sitters, dog walkers, and dog boarding services every day of the week.
But now, several dog owners have come forward after a few of the company’s trusted walkers lost their dogs. In the last month alone, Wag has lost three separate dogs in New York.
“I’m in shock — I can’t believe it’s three dogs in one month!” said Nicole DiCarlo, owner of a Chihuahua named Norman.
Norman went missing last week on the Upper East Side after going on a walk with the service. He hasn’t been seen since.
Nicole and her boyfriend said they’d been using Wag for a few years with a trusted walker, but this time they’d needed someone last minute and got a different person.
The unfamiliar walker returned to them in tears, explaining that Norman had slipped off his leash while trailing behind her.
Two other New York dogs, Nash and Freddie, recently escaped their Wag handlers as well, but were later found alive, and for the most part, well.
Nash, a 140 lb cane corso escaped when the walker dropped his leash. Wag said they went to great lengths to search for Nash, posting fliers, sending out search parties, operating a tip line and even offering a $5,000 reward.
The dog was found nearly two weeks later when spotted by locals, having lost almost 50 lbs according to his owner.
Freddie, a Chihuahua-dachshund, made a run for it 10 days after Nash, but was found the following day.
As for Norman, the hunt is still on. Wag is conducting a search as they did for Nash, sending out fliers, manning the tip line, offering a reward, and even hiring a tracker.
Nicole believes the dog walker that lost him was distracted on her phone while walking her dog. “They take a photo for their report card. They also do posts when they pee and where they poop. They shouldn’t be on their phones at all,” she said.
“She probably didn’t put it on tight enough, but I also think she had to have been pulling on him,” she continued. “That thing wouldn’t have slipped over his head if she wasn’t pulling.”
Wag has since suspended the walker “pending review,” but stated that she had a 5-star rating from many previous customers.
Wag also disagrees with Nicole in regards to the walker’s phone distracting her. Company spokeswoman Dini von Muefling said walkers are encouraged to take photos of the dogs, including pictures of secured safety harnesses.
“It’s a simple action at the start and end of the walk and a function that dog owners love,” she explained.
She went on to say that walkers undergo a strict screening process, including a background check, a dog knowledge test, an in-person orientation, and an online safety quiz.
“These tests are difficult, and the majority of applicants do not pass them,” said Dini von Mueffling.
Hopefully Wag can find a way to more closely monitor their customer’s dogs to keep future escapes from happening. And hopefully their efforts to find little Norman will bring him back home to his family.
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