Chicago pet owners seek answers after pet sitter hired by app Rover for losing dogs

CHICAGO (WLS) — Two Chicago pet owners are expressing concern 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 guardians, but their dogs were lost to the guardians! Now owners fear their pets will never be found.

“They are family,” Jamilah Jordan said.

Jordan left her miniature claws, her brothers Remy and Lexi, in the care of a babysitter when she was recently out of town last summer. She found the pet sitter on a popular app called Rover, which connects pet owners with independent sitters.

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“Three days into my holiday I received a text message from the caretaker at Rover saying ‘I know this is the message you were sorry to receive’ and that Remi and Lexi are missing,” said Jordan.

Jordan cut his trip short to search for his dogs in the Gage Park area where they were staying with the sitter and reportedly playing outside unsupervised.

“They were off leash. Why would you leave them unsupervised,” 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 pup, 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 Guardian admitted to driving Zorro an hour from the Guardian’s Lakeview home where he escaped.

“I would just like a resolution, even if it’s just knowing he’s with another 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 thefts of lost dogs, but only after the women complained.

Rover said the company “also monitors and posts on lost pet websites.”

Jordan said Rover also paid Remy’s vet bill after he was found, and the company reimbursed Remy’s treatment costs at the animal shelter.

Rover said he expressed his deepest condolences, but added that Jordan and Morgan’s experiences are “extremely rare” and that “both models involved have been removed from our platform.”

“They definitely 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 on the National Criminal Database. Pet owners can also choose a custodian, who has opted in to an enhanced background check, which adds a manual search of county court records.

The company said more than half a million stays have been booked through the platform in the Chicago area, with 97% of reviewed stays receiving a five-star rating.

“Ask them as much as the pet sitter should ask you, to make sure it’s convenient for all parties involved,” said Jessica Abernathy, president of the National Association of Professional Pet Caretakers.

Abernathy said consumers should ask how long the sitter has cared for the animals.

“See where they will board, and don’t just randomly drop them off at a house,” she advised.

RELATED: Dog lost in Chicago area on move reunited with family

If you can, hire someone you know or who has been used by family or a friend.

“Overall, it’s been a tough eight months,” Morgan said. “Just a total roller coaster of emotions.”

Morgan and Jordan hope their dogs’ microchips will help bring them home.

“I adopted them as a bonded pair, so that’s what was really 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 photos 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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