SF family demands answers after dog lost while staying with sitter booked through pet care platform

Amanda del Castillo Image
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Dog lost while staying with pet sitter booked through Rover in SF
A San Francisco family is demanding answers after their 2-year-old Maltipoo Coco went missing after escaping from a pet caretaker hired through Rover.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Before venturing off on a recent Hawaiian vacation, a family in San Francisco booked a pet sitter on the popular pet care service platform, Rover. The family's distance away from home felt even farther after learning their dog had escaped his caretaker.

Coco the 2-year-old Maltipoo is missing. The white dog with black spots was last seen late Friday night in San Francisco. More than just a dog to owner Alyson Ruiz, Coco was gifted by Ruiz's parents to provide her comfort through the pandemic.

"I'm still in shock. I just can't believe it," Ruiz told ABC7 News.

Before leaving for Hawaii, Ruiz made accommodations for Coco through the Rover app. Through the online marketplace for pet care services, she booked a pet sitter. Ruiz said she had used the platform once before, describing Rover's convenience, care and cost.

However, this time was different after a late night text from Coco's caretaker.

"'Oh, I don't know if like the app contacted you, but your dog bit me and he ran away. And I couldn't catch up to him," Ruiz recalled of the text message she received. "And then I like, started panicking. And I was like, what? I'm in Hawaii... they canceled my flight."

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Since landing back in San Francisco on Saturday night, Ruiz and her family's search for Coco hasn't stopped.

"When we got here, we started posting flyers in the Western Addition and the Fillmore in the Tenderloin," Ruiz's aunt, Joselyn Barrera said.

She explained that while the family canvassed the area on their own, a bystander mentioned seeing the dog running and distressed on Octavia Street. It's the type of action Barrera wants to see Rover take.

"If we were able to find that out 48-hours after the incident, I'm sure that someone with a little more expertise, like a private investigator can find a lot more from the businesses in the area- from the cameras surveillance," Barrera suggested. "And also, you know, what they're doing to rectify to make sure that this doesn't happen again."

Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan of the Tri-Valley has until Friday to renew her bill to mandate oversight for dog trainers.

ABC7 News reached out to Rover.

The company said: "As pet parents ourselves, our hearts are with Coco's family and we are focused on helping bring him home safe and sound. Our 24/7 Trust and Safety team immediately began supporting search efforts as soon as we learned Coco was missing. We are offering a $500 reward, paying for flyers, and posting in online pet-finding websites, which send alerts to local shelters and veterinarians.

We have suspended the sitter's account on our platform while our 24/7 Trust and Safety team conducts a thorough investigation. We remain in regular contact with Coco's family and are providing them with a complete refund.

The safety and wellbeing of the pets in our community is a top priority, which is why all sitters who list their services on the Rover platform must pass a background check and a safety quiz, in addition to having their profiles approved by a member of our team. We also back every service booked through our platform with the Rover Guarantee, which is designed to support pet parents and sitters. To learn more about our commitment to trust and safety, please visit our site.

This is far from the typical experience on Rover and our team takes it very seriously. For additional context, pet parents in the Bay Area have booked over 541,000 stays through the platform, with more than 97% of reviewed stays receiving a 5-star rating."

Still, the family feels what was offered by Rover falls short of finding little Coco.

"As her aunt- as a family friend, to see her go through that emotional distress and trauma of losing your your first dog... It's very traumatic," Barrera told ABC7 News.

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