Quincy, Massachusetts resident Joe Hingston went on a week-long vacation to Mexico. When he returned, he found his dog at home alone in “deplorable conditions,” reports The Patriot Ledger. The dog sitter who was trusted to care for Hingston’s aging dog is now being charged with animal cruelty – and larceny.
Hingston’s dog Sullivan – or “Sully” as he is nicknamed – was discovered lying in a puddle of urine and feces when Hingston returned from his vacation. Sully had several open wounds, had lost 10 pounds in one week, and had developed both an ear infection and a bladder infection.
“We’re devastated, to say the least,” Hingston told The Patriot Ledger. Sully is a 13-year-old Akita, with specific medical conditions related to age. Hingston hired the dog sitter to stay with Sully and care for him full-time, ensuring the dog would get the proper medical attention he needed while Hingston was on vacation.
But towards the end of his week away in Mexico, Hingston began to get worried. A neighbor informed him that the dog sitter was leaving the house and the dog alone for long periods of time, contrary to what Hingston had asked her to do. The neighbor also saw the sitter loading items from Hingston’s house into her car. After confronting the sitter via text, Hingston returned home on Sunday the 26th to find his dog had been mistreated, and he had been robbed of over $5,000 in gift cards and cash.
Though Hingston would not say how he hired the sitter, Captain John Dougan of the Quincy Police Department said the dog sitter was hired using an app called DogVacay. The app is used by dog owners who need to find a dog sitter while they are away on vacation. DogVacay has stated that they always conduct thorough background checks, and the dog sitter who watched Sully had passed the “rigorous approval process.”
A video from WCVB shows the wounds that Sully is suffering from. Though Hingston is still devastated, he appears to be working towards healing his beloved dog.
DogVacay is not the only company that matches dog sitters to dog owners. Rover is popular website for dog owners to use when they need a pet sitter during a vacation. And while the service is popular and comes with many success stories, there is always the fear that something similar to Hingston’s story could happen to another dog owner. The Humane Society of the United States has a guide on how dog owners can pick an excellent pet sitter. Here are some basic tips for what to look for when choosing someone to watch your dog.
- Start With People You Know – Always ask friends and neighbors first. And ask early! It’s best to choose someone you already trust to watch your pet, if you can. If friends and neighbors are unavailable, ask your veterinarian if he or she has any recommendations. A dog daycare, dog trainer, or even a rescue organization may also have recommendations. Only approach a business that you trust and are familiar with.
- Cast a Wide Net – Sometimes you may be in a situation where you need to use a service such as DogVacay or Rover. These services have many success stories and can provide a wonderful experience, but you should still cover your bases. Interview many candidates and interview them early – especially around the holidays. Ask the candidates about their experience, their approach with dogs, and how they react in an emergency. And trust your gut. If one of the potential dog sitters gives you a bad feeling, it’s completely okay to politely decline. You don’t have to say why. There are many other pet sitters in the sea! If you are choosing a pet sitter from a large pool of candidates, you are bound to find someone you can trust.
- Always Check References – Unless you are hiring someone you know very well and trust completely, always ask for at least two references. The dog sitter should be able to provide the name and contact information of previous dog owners who have hired her to dog sit. Once you have their contact info, follow through! Ask the dog owner what it was like working with the dog sitter. Any problems or doubts? Anything positive things that stood out? This is your chance to ease your mind on any questions you may have.
With the proper precautions, both you and your dog can have an excellent vacation experience.