If you’re asking, Is Rover.com safe? I hope I can convince you that Rover is not safe for pets. The sitter who is responsible for my dog’s permanent paralysis is still available and recommended for hire on Rover’s website.
It’s taken me a long time to work up the courage to write this post. Writing about my dog’s paralysis while in the care of a Rover.com sitter means talking about an experience I never, ever want to revisit or think about.
But it’s an important story. One that needs to be heard and told and shared. Because our pets are special, and I didn’t realize exactly what sort of trust I was laying in front of people who didn’t deserve it.
I want everyone to know my honest Rover experience, and also to hear about the long-term consequences of that experience.
Meet my Dog, Jersey
This is Jersey. She’s a 6 pound miniature poodle who is now twelve years old. My husband, James, and I adopted her from a shelter when she was a year old, and she’s been a part of our family ever since.
Before February, she loved playing fetch more than anything else and she was an amazing retriever. She loved going for walks and following me around the house all day while I worked from home.
Why We Used Rover to Find a Dog Sitter
In February 2019, we took a 4-night Disney Cruise to get away from the Northern Minnesota cold. As I have in the past, I decided to use Rover to find a pet sitter for our dog. This was not our first time using Rover.com. We truly thought that it was the best option for Jersey at that time.
Why did I like to use Rover for Jersey’s care in the past? The biggest reason was companionship. She’s a genuinely sweet dog that craves human companionship. I liked that she could stay in someone’s home and spend a lot of time with a person, instead of staying in a kennel.
The second reason was Rover’s own information on their pet sitters. I was reassured by Rover.com’s “hiring standards” and background checks. I know better now.
So we found a dog sitter through Rover.com. Annika F. in Duluth, Minnesota. My husband brought Jersey over to her house for a recommended meet and greet. He even realized that Jersey had been watched by one of Annika’s roommates in the past.
Everyone was comfortable, happy, and excited that the dog sitting arrangement was going to work out.
We dropped Jersey off and went on our cruise. We couldn’t be reached on our phones because we didn’t have service at sea.
How we Learned About Our Dog’s Injury
Four days later, our ship docked. We collected our luggage and I turned on my phone to request a Lyft to the Orlando airport. We would fly from there to Minneapolis, then drive about three hours to get home to Duluth. It was then that I found Rover.com in-app messages, text messages and voicemails from Annika.
Below is the first message I received from Annika, my Rover.com dog sitter. The rest of the messages are at the end of this post.
Note: Various aspects of her messages were revealed to be lies, misstatements and major omissions. More on that later.
Transcripts of above message:
The other dog I was watching bit jersey and she’s bleeding a bit. It’s in her back upper thigh. I am calling the rover services but what do recommend I do?
She has pretty labored breath and does not seem comfortable. I’ve tried to contact your emergency number and have talked to the rover help line and it seems best to take her in. The place gave me the fees beforehand but Rover has a deductible type thing in this situation that will cover up to $250 in costs.
Hey Marybeth. So Jersey is staying overnight at the BluePearl clinic and I will be picking her up tomorrow morning before they close at 8 am. You can call and check on her anytime before then at their number ###-###-####. I’m so sorry this happened. I can call and explain it all in the morning!
My husband and I were in disbelief reading that message. What other dog? Why hadn’t she told us about this? Why didn’t she say something when arranging the sitting or during the meet and greet?
I tried calling Annika immediately after reading the first message. When she didn’t answer, I read the rest of her messages (You can see them below) and called the vet. I learned that Jersey wasn’t able to walk. She needed to see a qualified surgeon in Minneapolis – nearly three hours away from home – for a spinal cord injury consult.
At this point we had arrived at the Orlando airport. I was doing my best to stay calm, but I couldn’t hide it. Piper was crying and asking me if Jersey was going to be ok. All I could say was, “I don’t know.” As we were walking to the gate, I saw Haiden wiping tears from his eyes.
The injuries our dog suffered from while in the Rover sitter’s care:
My aunt and uncle picked Jersey up from the vet and drove her the 150 miles to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center in St. Paul, Minnesota while I flew from Orlando to Minneapolis.
I ran to a car to get to my dog as soon as I got off the plane. I arrived and met Dr. Stephen Garofolo, the veterinary surgeon who would be operating on Jersey.
Thankfully, Dr. Garofolo explained everything in great detail to me, going as far as to draw out whiteboard diagrams and make a list of exactly what he was going to do. He also sat me down and very frankly told me that, if Jersey made it out of surgery:
- My dog could be paralyzed for the rest of her life.
- My dog would likely be incontinent.
- Recovery after surgery would be hard, with at least 30 days of being confined to a crate.
- There was a strong chance that Jersey would never walk again.
- Canine physical therapy could help us find options for mobility.
The conversation was heartbreaking, but it was necessary to me me wrap my head around how severe this situation was.
Dr. Garofolo told me that spinal cord injuries are always an emergency and that others were prepping Jersey for surgery at that moment.
Even though it was already late afternoon, he would be starting surgery soon. He also told me that I shouldn’t stay; surgery would take some time and I wouldn’t be able to see my dog until the morning, anyway.
The conversation with the surgeon about my dog’s injuries
We left to settle in at a family member’s house. I didn’t get a call from the surgeon until nearly six hours later. His voice was shaking, and I started to cry as he began to speak.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget what he told me:
There was a hole through her spinal cord – something had punctured all the way through it, like a tooth. I’ve never seen anything like it.
We shaved a large section of her body so we could see the damage. The deep bruising and swelling are consistent with the injuries that happen when a small animal is picked up and violently shaken.
…fractured vertebrae, broken ribs, lacerations, bruising…
The doctor’s voice broke. I could hear him cry as he told me Jersey was alive and that dogs just want to survive.
The good news was that Jersey had made it through surgery. She was medicated and settled within the ICU. He recommended I see her as soon as visiting hours started in the morning.
A Week in Veterinary ICU
Jersey remained in the ICU at the veterinary center for a full week. I visited her twice a day and stayed for the full visiting hours each time. Two hours in the morning and three hours every evening.
The rest of my family had to get home to go to school and work, but I truly dropped everything else my life to be there for my dog. I bought clothes, rented a car and moved into an amazing friend’s guest room. I stopped writing and publishing blog posts. And I worried.
I worried about Jersey’s immediate recovery in the ICU. I worried about the recovery she would have at home. I worried that she wouldn’t walk again. I worried that she would need diapers. I worried that I would have to carry her all the time. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle any of it.
I was selfish, too. I selfishly worried about how I would do anything, how I would get things done, be a mom and a homemaker and a business owner while caring for my dog.
But not caring for Jersey wasn’t an option. When someone you love gets hurt, you do everything you can to help them. James and I both apply that sentiment to our pets, too. Jersey was (and is!) such a special dog — she deserved every chance to recover and live a good life.
As the days passed, Dr. Garofolo tested her regularly for deep pain sensation to see if she was regaining any feeling in her hind legs. Every day was negative.
While Jersey’s physical recovery was slow, it didn’t take long for her happy personality to return. The techs working in the ICU all told me how sweet she was and how much they loved caring for her.
Jersey was so happy to see me every day, and it warmed my heart to see her perk up every time Haiden and Piper came for the last few minutes of visiting hours.
Jersey was discharged a week after surgery. I was terrified. The surgical tech gave me lessons on how to express urine from her bladder. I also learned basic therapy exercises to maintain her muscles and range of motion while she healed.
Multiple trips for post-surgical checkups showed that Jersey was recovering, but she wasn’t registering any deep pain sensation.
Jersey remained paralyzed, and chances of regaining control of her hind legs went down with every day that passed after surgery.
Paralyzed, For Life
Eight weeks after her surgery, Dr. Garofolo told me that it was very unlikely that Jersey would ever get that deep pain sensation back. He recommended meeting the physical therapist to fit Jersey for a wheelchair. He also thought she could start therapy to strengthen the rest of her body.
Jersey went to therapy for 13 weeks. That was 13 weeks of 300-mile round trip drives. Getting her there and home took nearly a full day, but the sessions were necessary to her overall health. And the results were extraordinary.Jersey also adapted to getting around the house by scooting pulling herself along by her front legs. She has a wheelchair cart, but it’s best for outdoors and open areas. It’s not practical for short distances and confined spaces.
Ten months later, I’m starting to feel fairly adjusted to being a stay at home mom to a handicapped dog. I have a dog that’s permanently paralyzed because of a Rover sitter.
Why A Sitter from Rover isn’t Trustworthy
The kicker, the reason why I would never, ever recommend Rover to anyone, is because Annika F. is still available for hire on Rover.com.
That’s right. The Rover.com pet sitter who:
- Didn’t disclose that she was watching a large dog in addition to my six pound dog.
- Falsely communicated that Jersey was “doing fine” when veterinary records stated that euthanasia was discussed.
- Lied and stated that Jersey was “healing” without internal damage when Jersey wasn’t able to walk.
- Falsely communicated that Jersey was “doing well” when she knew about her spinal cord injury.
- Never indicated any sense of urgency or emergency in her messages, after she discussed euthanasia, paralysis and major injury with two different veterinary clinics.
Want evidence? I have receipts to prove it all.
The other messages from Annika, the Rover sitter appear farther down. I have copies of the medical records that detail the severity of Jersey’s injuries. Records that note discussions with the sitter about humane euthanasia and extensive trauma.
All from injuries that wouldn’t have happened if the pet sitter had told us that she was watching a big dog before we unknowingly put Jersey in a dangerous environment.
And that other dog? The other dog had a history of violence toward small animals.
That dog’s owner had tweeted about “barf[ing] feathers” after her dog had killed and eaten a whole live duck. The owner had also posted a video on Instagram of this dog hunting small animals outside in snow. That dog’s owner simply should not have allowed that dog to be around an animal as small as Jersey.
How Rover.com Lost My Confidence in their Guarantee
As for Rover – I have problems with how they processed the incident.
Yes, there’s a “Rover guarantee” that stated that Rover would pay for 30 days of vet care for injuries to a pet injured while in a sitter’s care.
The guarantee covered Jersey’s surgery and stay in the University of Minnesota’s veterinary ICU. It also covered the care she received prior to surgery.
But it’s no surprise that it takes far longer than 30 days for a dog to recover from a violent attack, broken back, severe spinal cord injury, paralysis and more.
Further, that guarantee didn’t cover all those non-veterinary expenses. Costs that wouldn’t have existed if Jersey hadn’t been injured.
Even with my generous friends and family providing places to stay, I obviously had to pay for food, transportation and plenty of other expenses that add up when you’re not at home.
Then there are all the things we’ve bought and will continue to buy to accommodate having a handicapped pet at home.
Rugs, mats and booties to keep her from slipping on the floor. Ramps, a wheelchair and crate liners. Diapers, piddle pads and more cleaning products than I’ve ever used in my life. The list goes on, and it will continue to go on for as long as we have her.
Finally, there was my job. This blog. This website that I created and built from nothing provides me with a full-time income, and it takes a lot of hard work to keep it at that level.
But Jersey’s injury and recovery took so much time and effort, I hardly did any work at all for those first few months after the attack.
I recognize that I’m very fortunate that I could devote so much time and energy to my dog. That I had the flexibility to step back from my business. That my husband agreed with my priorities and was able to carry our family’s income while mine suffered.
After all that, we’re still feeling a huge financial fallout from my not dedicating enough time to work for an extended period of time. Cutting way back for a few months resulted in losing about 50% of my annual income.
How Rover Lost my Trust in Their Policies
It was upsetting to see that Annika F. was still pet sitting for Rover.com. I sent Rover a message detailing Annika’s actions, omissions, lies and poor communication, and that I had no trust in her abilities.
My message ended with the following request:
I wouldn’t want any dog and their owner to go through what Jersey and I have gone through. I respectfully request that Rover.com no longer offer Annika [last name]’s services to Rover customers.
The response I received from Rover.com:
I was shocked when I checked on this and recently found her listing with available dates.
That’s her, with 22 ratings with an average of nearly five stars. Rover is not only allowing this person to care for pets, she also appears to be highly recommended.
If Rover.com is allowing the dog sitter responsible for paralyzing my dog to advertise and be hired, I can’t trust anyone listed on that site.
We have no idea who else has caused injuries or accidents with other pets, who has put other animals into dangerous situations, because Rover very obviously didn’t remove a dangerous sitter from their listings. They didn’t remove a dangerous sitter after a fulfilled claim and a clear, honest complaint.
My Feelings toward Rover.com today
In the end, after the claim for the expenses within 30 days of the injury, we lost over $10,000 in actual expenses. That’s doesn’t include how much income my business lost due to my shift in priorities.
Our lives have changed in ways that never would have crossed my mind a year ago. Now:
- My dog wears diapers that we change several times a day.
- Jersey has to wear infant onesies to keep the diapers from falling off.
- We invested hundreds of dollars in a wheelchair for my dog.
- My dog needs a special handmade waterproof dog bed on top of our bed so she doesn’t urinate and soil our bedding in her sleep.
- I built a six foot long ramp to give Jersey independent access to “her spot” on our sofa. It takes up a lot of space in our small living room.
- Our hardwood floor has interlocking rubber mats laid down so the dog doesn’t slip.
- I have to pay for medical boarding at $90 per night if our family goes out of town. Because I don’t expect family or friends to watch an incontinent, diaper wearing dog, and I certainly don’t trust anyone else to do it.
- I can’t leave my dog alone on a bed or most furniture, because she can’t get down.
- I have to pay for more grooming to keep certain areas of her body clean. She can’t scratch and clean her ears, and even a bit of long fur interferes with her diapers.
We’re dealing with all that, while our dog sitter can move on, continue to watch other pets and make money doing so.
Am I mad at the sitter? At Rover? At the other dog’s owner? Absolutely. I’m mad at everyone. I’ve cried plenty of tears out of anger and frustration on top of all my tears of sadness.
But I keep going. I snuggle my dog, care for her and choose to be grateful that she’s alive.
The messages from our Rover.com Sitter
As promised, here are the rest of the messages from our Rover sitter:
Why I’ll never think Rover.com is safe
I said earlier that I used to think that Rover had a high standard of vetting pet sitters. That they did background checks and only allowed a fraction of applicants to offer pet care on their site.
Now I know that Rover’s basic background checks only look into high profile criminal activity, like sex offender lists, terrorist watch lists and national criminal databases. It does not search local crime records to find offenses that would be reported at a local level.
A friend also helped me realize that their standard of hiring less than 20% of job applicants means nothing without more data. Because they’re not specifying qualified applicants. She said they likely get thousands of applicants, many of whom choose to not pursue the job. Others may be unqualified. We have no idea what that 20% means.
Marybeth’s note: I would be happy to answer any questions to provide more information or clarify things that I said. Please leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
<div id="mediavine-settings" data-blocklist-content-desktop="1" data-blocklist-content-mobile="1" data-blocklist-auto-insert-sticky="1" ></div>
robin rue says
Oh. My. God! What a terrible thing to happen!! Especially since it’s someone that is supposedly vetted and they are still recommending.
Marybeth Hamilton says
I know. It makes me so sad and angry at the same time. I can’t go back in time to prevent this from happening, but no other dog should be trusted with that sitter.
I’m so freakin blown away. Telling you that I’m so sorry for your traumatic and heartbreaking experience is a ridiculous understatement. I can’t. I just can’t. I thought about what your little girl was feeling having to be in that monsters presence after such a disturbing attack. And the gall of the sitter early on to suggest Jersey would be in danger at a hospital. How can she live with herself?
Your little girl is precious. Her big round eyes have so much life in them. Great job loving her thru her last years. Poor baby!!! Jersey and you!!!!
Marybeth Hamilton says
You must have at least one little dog of your own – your empathy is pouring out of your comment!
Pets are special, and Jersey has always been precious to me. I would never have used Rover had I known how risky it was. My only desire in sharing this is that our story keeps other pets safe.
Thank you for your comment – words like yours remind me that people are good, even with the ups and downs.
I want to thank you for writing this article and linking it to online reviews. I’m prepping to go on a trip in May. I almost booked a rover sitter but decided to do a search of online reviews and found many many horror stories similar to this one (occurring with even highly reviews sitters!) Your blog post made me cry and I hope you and your dog continue to heal. I never considered worst case scenarios when on the site and this article really put the dangers of unqualified and unknown sitters into perspective! My heart goes out to you as a fellow owner of a very small and precious dog. Your writing really made me realize how unintentionally risky I was being with the care of my baby! I’ll make sure to share this with friends who are also tempted by the convenience of rover!
Becky Grant says
This just breaks my heart. Personally as a Rover sitter, in my state one must be pet certified. Being certified, I would never take any pet into my home w/o having a pup visit for 2 daycare days. All introductions of pups start off between a seperate fence line for safety! This just breaks my heart! There are so many hobbyist pet sitters out there that aren’t certified! In addition why was a small pup around a larger pup that it seems the sitter wasn’t familiar with! Uggh! In addition to being a certified pet sitter, I’m currently becoming certified as vet assistant. I’m all about safety 1st. Thoughts & prayers for your family.
I wanted to start petsitting on Rover for extra cash and your story opened my eyes…shook me up a bit…so sorry for your baby..she is a cutie..
there was a similar scenario with a sitter whose name was Angie who’s also still on rover. I’m sorry for your experience. we can’t take anything at face value anymore and anyone can let us down.
I’m so sorry this happened. My pet sitter killed my dog last year and still watched pets on rover. Unbelievable how careless and negligent these sitters can be. If i didn’t have cameras in my house i would’ve never know the truth. She sat on her phone bored while my pets were on back patio running around a deep pool. My sweet boy was in look for over 20 minutes. She noticed when it was time to leave. Rover doesn’t care and won’t ever post bad reviews so you never know.
I wish there was a way to get them justice
All we can do is speak out on these careless people
So anyone in Orlando area be aware that Bonnie B Baumgartner is a negligent lying irresponsible pet sitter. She still to this day won’t take ownership even though it’s clear as day on video! Blaming my dog for not swimming. Professional pet sitters should know dogs should never be unattended near a swimming pool. Ask any trainer, vet or pet professional.
Be careful who watched your pets
melissa chapman says
This is so awful and no sweet pet should have to go through this. I am always leary about leaving my dogs with a kennel sitting service and this only substantiates it. I hope you and your pet will be OK.
Marybeth Hamilton says
We are doing so well, all things considered. I feel like it’s taken me a full ten months to adjust to having a handicapped dog, but she’s worth all the extra effort.
oh im so sorry to hear about this- i hope you and your furry friend are doing ok.
Marybeth Hamilton says
We’re getting along! It’s been an evolving process, with a substantial investment of time as well as money. I’m so incredibly grateful that I have a fantastic support system that helped us deal with everything along the way.
Amber Myers says
I’ve heard mixed reviews about this. I can’t believe people would mistreat animals 🙁 I only have cats, and if we go on vacation I make sure to have people I trust look over them.
Thank you for sharing this story. I’ve always had my uncertainties about using this service and this just sealed the deal. I’m so sorry.
Marybeth Hamilton says
One of my goals in writing this article was to just help other pet owners make an informed decision about who cares for their pets. I honestly thought using Rover was the best option for Jersey — I was a repeat customer! Now I know better and I want other people to know it, too.
I remember when this happened and I was devastated for you. I’m in tears reading what your family and especially your dog went through. You’re right, you’re fortunate you have the flexibility and ability to help her and do all you did for her…still makes it wrong what happened. I’m grateful you shared your story so all of us can know for ourselves. I’m so so sorry.
Marybeth Hamilton says
Julie, I’ve appreciated your support so much. I know how you feel about your own dog, and I feel like you really understand how much of a bond Jersey and I share.
As a small business owner, there really is only so much you can control. And maybe Rover.com didn’t know this pet sitter was like this, they probably didn’t. But NOW that they do, continuing to recommend and letting her advertise…its now their responsibility. They are just as much at fault from this point on.
Marybeth Hamilton says
I 100% agree. It seems like a reckless move to allow her to continue pet sitting for them.
Obviously this is hindsight for you, but for others who read this – always use an insured and bonded pet sitting company. I have been a pet sitter for one for 13 years now, and have been background checked and have to maintain regular education, etc. You will definitely pay more for a sitter from a professional company, but you will get reliable care. Sadly, this is far from the first incident I’ve heard of with Rover.
I just read your post out loud to my husband in the car. Even though, I knew the whole story and have spoken to you about it, I had to stop over and over to choke back tears. I am still heartbroken for you all while simultaneously amazed by your strength and devotion to Jersey. ❤️
Marybeth Hamilton says
Your support has meant a lot since this happened, Jen. It’s been awful, but knowing I have support that reaches across the country has been a huge source of comfort for me.
It sounds to me like you have a world of lawsuits in hand. I’m sorry about what happened to Jersey, it breaks my heart for you all every day. But do not let them do this to anyone else. And I’d probably say that the other dog needs to be put down because it sounds quite violent.
I agree. I think Rover should be sued.
And, sadly, yes the other dog should be put down.
Unbelievable!! I’m just sick to my stomach reading this. I absolutely cannot believe she is still in the system With them. With all the evidence, messages, doctor’s info. It just blows my mind.
I’m so sorry you and your sweet one had to go through this. I have no words!
Marybeth Hamilton says
It’s so upsetting. Further, I’m baffled that a company like Rover would continue to take on such a risk.
This is really scary! If Rover knows about this person and continues to let her pet sit, I’ll definitely choose another option for boarding our girls. You definitely should have been told about another pet being boarded with her. It’s crazy that she lied to you and Rover still backs her. This is seriously insane. I’m so sorry!
Marybeth Hamilton says
Rover absolutely knows about this person and continues to let her pet sit.
My gut feeling is that there are plenty of other sitters who have incidents or complaints in their history, yet Rover continues to let them offer their services (they also take a cut of the earnings, of course).
yup. unfortunately, it’s all about the almighty dollar for them
This makes me so sad for you and Jersey. That little face just melts and breaks my heart at the same time. We also have a small dog (4 pound morkie) and used Rover recently with him. This has been so eye opening and I will think twice before using them again. I’m so sorry you are going through all his but Jersey is so lucky to have you! Hugs!
Dianna Ranere says
Your poor baby! I can’t even fathom a company allowing this sitter to continue to work after maiming your dog. She should never be allowed to work as a sitter again! I’m so sorry you had to go through this, I was in tears reading this but one thing for sure, Jersey is amazing, what a fighter!
Marybeth Hamilton says
She’s a warrior, and tougher than I ever dreamed she’d be! She worked so hard in her therapy sessions, and I’m so inspired by her.
Nancy M. Horn says
My heart is breaking for poor Jersey and your family. I can’t believe Rover is still letting this woman work for them. I’m not a sue-happy person, but in this case, you really should look into suing, if anything to get this woman off their site.
Lynda S says
My heart breaks for you, your family, and your sweet pup. I hope that Rover steps up and removes Annika from their list. It’s the LEAST that they can do to help ensure the safety of animals.
That is really so awful and heartbreaking. I’m sorry to hear you went through this experience. We are animal lovers and I can’t imagine dealing with something like this happening. I actually recently started setting up an account on Rover, as a SAHM to make some money cat sitting. It is unfortunate that it is hard to find someone you can trust unless you already know someone.
Carol Jones says
I am so sorry for Jersey. I have never used Rover and will never use them. Our dogs (and cats) are family, the way this was handled by the sitter is abhorrent!! And for Rover to still have her as a contractor is ridiculous.
I’m so sorry! Jersey is so lucky to have you.
I’ve considered using Rover in the past but will not consider them as an option.
The tears are flowing tonight, I’m in such disbelief that she’s still allowed to offer services with them and frankly that she’d even have the nerve. That is unacceptable!! It’s truly mortifying! I’m so glad you shared this story to get the word out to warn others. I’m praying it this will put a stop to this so that nobody else will have to suffer at her hands.
Marybeth Hamilton says
Agreed! I’ve looked at it from so many angles and I can’t see a single way that this is the right way for either the pet sitter or for Rover to proceed. The pet sitter shouldn’t be volunteering herself to be hired again, but Rover absolutely should not be letting her do it on their platform.
I’m so sorry to hear about this. But glad that you’re sharing your story on the net for people to be aware of what happened and know your story.
I’m so happy to hear that this happened to you. Thank you for sharing your story. I really hopes this helps someone and another fur baby doesn’t have to go through this.
Natalie Diaz says
HOLY CRAP! I’m so so sorry for you and so so sorry for Jersey. I’m glad you wrote this and I’m totally sharing on Twiniversity RIGHT NOW! Thank you for telling this story. It had to be told.
Marybeth Hamilton says
You are so awesome, Natalie. Thank you for using your own platform to share our story.
Tiffany La Forge-Grau says
That is absolutely unreal. The fact that she is still able to work with them is mind blowing. so sorry to hear about Jersey!
I’m so sorry this has happened. You have such an adorable pup too. I honestly never trust any sites like these. That’s really sad to hear that they are still there too. That is really horrible.
I am so angry for you! I have an 11 year old 8 pound toy poodle so I feel like this hit so close to home personally. Thankfully we have family nearby time watch our Bella but it hasn’t always been that way and we have had to have sitters before and it always made me so nervous. You are such a good dog mommy! Little Jersey is so cute!
Jamie H says
Wow, what a terrible experience! I’m so sorry this happened to your poor pup! Thank you for sharing your story!
Monica Y says
Oh no, they need to remove her from the site. Thanks for sharing your story, I don’t trust those services ever and not for sure would never use them
What compensation, if any, have you gotten from the other dog’s owner or the sitter? Setting the Rover part aside, I know easier said than done, that dog could have attacked your dog during a walk or a day at the park so what compensation have they paid? Has that owner stepped up at all? They seem like a very irresponsible owner if they haven’t. I hope your furbaby is feeling better and that you are able to enjoy your time with her. I am so sorry this happened to all of you.
Amy H says
I have always worried about leaving my pets with anyone besides family. I can not believe that they didn’t even let you know that they were planning on watching a 2nd dog . So sorry to hear about what happened to Jersey…
Marybeth Hamilton says
Thank you. I’ve been pretty quiet about the circumstances – until last week, I only told the full story of what happened if I could explain all the details face-to-face. Writing about it has brought all the emotions back to the surface (my husband and I cried about it again just a few nights ago), but it’s also felt so good to share and hopefully keep other pets safe.
Ria Guy says
I’m so sorry for what happened to your dog. I do know these things can happen because it happened to my little shih tzu when I was younger. My step father bought a mastiff and the mastiff got mad and grabbed the little dog and shook her like a toy. I never was able to understand why they brought that dog in around our little dog. I also know someone who is on Rover who does rescue but also dog sits and leaves all the dogs by themselves many times…all various sizes. I hope Jersey is enjoying the limited life he has but still happy. You’re an amazing dog mom.
You should be able to leave a comment on her profile.
I’d leave a brief synopsis of Jersey’s story with the lowest review I could. That way everyone who looked at her reviews with the intention of hiring her would at least have some warning.
Marybeth Hamilton says
I did. Her profile still shows 22 ratings with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. My review hardly put a dent in her appearance.
I am not sure if you are still on this webpage. But I made the most horrible experience while trying to book a boarding with someone here in San Francisco. The person has 2 identities with 2 different pictures & profiles. I wrote to Emma, but then Alison answered. First I thought it must have been some mistake of mine. But then I saw that the exact same conversation history was going on on both profiles. So suddenly I would get the same message from the other person. She then seemed not interested in boarding because my cat is older and throws up once in a while. But she never communicated that to me, she just didn’t write me back anymore. So unprofessional. I already made up my mind that I couldn’t trust this person with 2 different identities and not telling me about what was really going on. So she then just wrote me back tonite and said that I insulted her when saying the $1860 would be a good deal for my cat. But that was on my first email already. She was clearly “finding something” to scare me so I won’t go to Rover I guess to complain about the 2 identities. She literally turned my sentence around to make it sound I insulted her, which I didn’t at all. I went back to that email and it was not insulting at all. So then, aber I didn’t respond anymore she said she reported me as scam. Clearly she is afraid I will let Rover know that she has 2 identities. Imagine I had given my cat to such a liar. I am still in shock about how she threaten me for no reason. I am Swiss living in San Francisco and the way I grew up is with kindness and working things out with people. Then I experience this ? You are right. I have zero trust in this company. It’s as risky as dealing with Craigslist. To me, that lady has some serious psychological issues. But I have enough class to never be unkind & say that to her. I just let this go……because as you said, I most likely would get the runaround. I’ve got not time for that. May I ask you how your dog is doing now 2 years later. I see the messges you exchanged are from 2019. Thank you for warning us all, Kathy
2 years later, Jersey is still doing well! She’ll be 15 in a few months and I feel so lucky for every day we get with her.
I am so sorry to hear about this and thank you SO, SO much for this post. I was going to use Rover.com but honestly this has persuaded me not to. I would love to chat with you further with questions…
Marybeth Hamilton says
Thank you for your comment. Ask any questions here or feel free to email me.
Leslie Reed says
What exactly did the Rover sitter do that was so wrong?? Another dog bit your dog. The Rover sitter didn’t bite your dog. Unless the Rover sitter advertises she watches only one dog at a time how can you make such claims of negligence? This could have happened anywhere whether or not you were standing there or not.
Obviously the Rover sitter did not purposely put your dog in harm’s way. They are animals. Anything can set an animal off. To slander Rover and a Rover sitter because your dog got hurt could result in lawsuits. I’m sorry your pup got hurt but to place all Rover sitters in one category is very ignorant and immature on your part.
Marybeth Hamilton says
You really should check your legal definitions before you throw them around. Nothing about this is “slander.”
If you had read through the whole article you would know what the Rover sitter did that warranted this post. In short, I have major problems with her lies and omissions of truth.
Here’s the summary of the issues I have with her:
1. She didn’t disclose that she was watching a large dog in addition to my six pound dog.
2. She falsely communicated that Jersey was “doing fine” when veterinary records stated that the sitter discussed euthanasia with the veterinarian.
3. She lied and stated that that Jersey was “healing” without internal damage when my dog wasn’t even able to walk.
4. She lied and communicated that my dog was “doing well” when she knew about her severe spinal cord injury.
5. She never indicated any sense of urgency or emergency , even AFTER she discussed euthanasia, paralysis and major injury with two different veterinary clinics.
In the end, this person simply should not be pet sitting for anyone.
I’d ignore Leslie’s comments. This person obviously did not read the facts of the case and lacks empathy.
With that being said, I’m so sorry for what happened. I’m horrified by the sitter’s lack of urgency and judgment in this matter. Your story has helped me to make an informed decision about using the service.
I think this takes courage. obviously if the author of this was lying it’s perjury, and I don’t think that she would take that risk. the sitter was obviously negligent as well as dishonest. and believe it or not there are worse stories from pet parents using the Rover services. there is no accountability and from what I understand about this Rover thing sitters can do whatever they want leaving the pet owners powerless. tell us all how you would feel. this is a very poorly regulated venue unfortunately. you sound like you’re over Sitternyourself? am I wrong?
I need to Thank you through all the tears I have, for saving me and my baby Meka from Appyling at Rover. I’m so glad I read the reviews, but my heart is shattered for you and your family that this incident occurred. Honestly, I cannot imagine the deep pain you went through. I am appalled that Rover kept this woman on to care for other pets. There really is no justice in this world.
Jersey is absolutely adorable and I’m so happy that she is well and able to live her life. You’re an amazing woman for the strength you have shown, to tell your story, in this blog. God Bless all of you and sweet little Jersey.
You need to speak with a lawyer. Small claims court may be an option for you in regards to either rover, the sitter, or the owner of the other dog. Your family has obviously also experienced emotional trauma from this episode. You also need to make sure that you report the other dog and their owner to the city/county/state authorities as the dog is obviously a danger to the community. This could help others whose animals are attacked with that dog in the future. I would also contact the media. Only squeaky wheels get grease I’m this day and age.
Believe me, I’ve tried all sorts of avenues for this. I’ve spoken to several personal injury attorneys (they’ve been nice and helpful but they’ve all told me that I don’t have a case – animal injuries aren’t compensated the way humans are in civil matters). I’ve reported the sitter and the dog owner owner to local police and animal control. I’ve filed and appealed a claim with the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance (denied twice).
To be completely honest, I didn’t write this post until after I had done all those things. Because if something had been done in response, if I felt more ok about how Rover handles safety issues, then I wouldn’t have felt the need to use this platform for something so deeply personal and painful.
that sucks and is just not fair. very angry for you.
Great advice! I’m in Florida and ALL dog bites have to be reported by Florida law. Also contacting media is a great suggestion. Had Rover handled this properly there wouldn’t be a need to…but fact is they allowed this sitter to remain online. Best advice I’ve read 🙂
JJ Johnson says
I don’t think it is reasonable to spend this much time, money or effort on an animal. It is an animal and not a human. Accidents happen. The dog should have likely been euthanized. I think you are over blowing this situation and obviously letting emotion vs reason win here. I am empathetic to having your dog injured, but it happens. The pet sitter took the dog to the vet and was likely trying to keep a positive outlook on your dogs condition. I also have a dog and would be sad to have her hurt. I think blaming Rover.com or the dog sitter is unreasonable. I am actually shocked and impressed Rover.com covered any of the medical past the initial vet visit and the cost which would have been associated with putting the dog down. Surgery and physical therapy for a dog is insane.
Fortunately for my dog, she’s a part of our family. You sound very much like the people my dog’s surgeon warned me about. Surprisingly, over a year after the incident, you’re the only person who has said she should have been euthanized. While it’s a moot point, you’re wrong. Jersey wanted to survive. She fought for every milestone in her recovery, and now she’s thriving.
As for the money, you can judge me all you want, but everyone is free to spend their own money as they wish. To be completely honest, money sitting in the bank would be worthless to me if I chose to keep it for myself instead of spending it to save my dog’s life.
My husband and I had a frank discussion about spending the money on her care, and we both agreed that we would trade just about any material possession if it gave Jersey a shot at survival. So we spent our money in the best possible way (and it was 100% worth it).
I love my dog, and I clearly value her more than you value your own dog. I feel bad for both of you that you wouldn’t be willing to do what it took to save your dog’s life if you were in my situation.
You’re an idiot. I’m not as nice as Marybeth. Who do you think you are to comment on how someone chooses to live their life…OR spend their money? Make no mistake, this woman would have spent her own money if she had to. How do I know? Because I have AND people do it EVERY day. You actually had to type that out, read it and hit send. Unreal. You’re an idiot.
A most insensitive “human” reply. Hriw some compassion and intelligence…JJ.
I read your story and it broke my heart. I would do everything to save my dog if that ever happened. Thank you for your dedication. It’s horrible to take in another dog and not be honest with the owners. The dogs safety and comfort is so important.
Thanks for sharing!
So very sorry this has happened to your beloved, sweet little dog. I couldn’t imagine going through this experience. I’m assuming you left a review of her on Rover? Is your review still there or did they remove it? I’m curious to know. Your little one is blessed to have such a loving momma that takes great care of her.
Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I did leave a review for her, but it hardly put a dent in her rating. The last time I checked, it was still published and ready to view.
Oh my gosh! I feel horrible about the experience that y’all had. I would have never ever let an aggressive bigger dog around a small dog in the first place. I know this from experience since my little yorkie died due to aggressive bigger dogs in my neighborhood. I wish rover was more hands on with the sitters and having basic requirements such as dog cpr and first aid and etc, but there’s nothing. This company is based on trust. I truly am sorry about y’all experience from the bottom of my heart.
Suzanne S. says
I am so sorry that this happened to your precious Jersey and your entire family. Your pup is so strong, and it’s clear that she loves you so much.
I have a small dog boarding business that I run out of my home. I only accept small dogs under 16 lbs and they have to get along with others. I don’t leave my house when I have them here, and I treat them as if they were my own.
I do use the Rover web site to attract clients, yet I tell all potential clients that I am the owner of my business, and Rover is agency that we find each other, dog owners that need sitters and vice versa. I let clients know that I am licensed and insured, that I have 3 of my own pups, and I take great care to make sure their dogs stay on their own food and treats and get daily exercise. My main job is to ensure their safety, well being and make them feel at ease and loved, while their owner is away.
I have heard other horror stories of some Rover sitters, and it is so sad and infuriating at the same time. I am sad that Rover did not do more for your loss of finances and incurred costs of providing care for Jersey down the road for the long haul.
There are sitters out there not on the Rover platform that are also quite below par. I don’t know what the solution is, other than word of mouth by other dog owners in your neighborhood, or family. My clients and their small dogs are very important to me, and I cherish them all and am honored to look after their pups while they go away.
Again, I apologize on behalf of all conscientious sitters on the Rover platform who are horrified at what happened to your precious girl.
Sending you love and dog hugs,
Omg I can not stop crying!!! This is beyond heartbreaking!! I can not imagine the pain, I would absolutely lose it. I would probably go to Anikas house and freakkkk out on her. And her message “well the other dog is still there” I can’t believe she is saying that make the owners of the big dog arrange for someone to pick up the killer dog if your poor sweet dog was truely going to go back to that house. She’s acting like it’s no big deal . I’m so sorry this happened you are such an amazing loving dog mom.
Thank you so, SO much for your kind words. It was such an awful situation with a bad person who should never have been responsible for animals. If I had known a fraction of what I know now, I never would have started using Rover in the first place.
OMG Im so so so sorry to hear this – broke my heart reading every single sentence in this blog. Coming across your story confirmed how Rover sitters cannot be trusted. I had a rather – Threatening / scary experience with Jersey’s Rover sitter last week – picking up our pup from (Erica and Jai ) Erica started screaming at us and my husband witnessed the Jai punch his dog during this whole nonsense…almost broke into a fight ….never again.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, I’m sure this was definitely not easy.
Several years ago, I left my dogs in the care of a Rover dog sitter for a few days. When I returned to pick them up, I was alarmed that they simply pushed the front screen door open and raced out into the street to greet me. I corralled them quickly, got them in my car, and decided immediately they would never stay there again. Later I related the incident to a friend who was the director of a dog rescue organization. At one time the same Rover sitter had been allowed, unrelated to her role with Rover, to foster a dog for the rescue organization. That dog was killed by one of the sitter’s dogs, which ended her brief fostering career for that rescue! Needless to say I never used Rover again and never will. I consider your article a public service. I am terribly sorry about your dogs near-fatal, long-term injuries. Thank you for caring for her so lovingly and for writing this blog post.
Donna Webb says
I have used Rover once. The lady came to my house to watch my dog, and my sisters dog (both small). I had her come to my house because I felt the dogs would be most comfortable here. My dog needed heart meds twice a day, so Fran (Rover Ortega sitter) came by in the morning and evening to check on the pets and give Noah his meds. She texted photos every day and a note about her visits. She also sent a Christmas card and gifts for the dogs. I did have to have my dog Noah put to sleep on Christmas Eve, because of his heart problems he has had for years. However, I would recommend my Rover sitter anytime fo in your home. I do not know about care in her home, because I did not use that service.
Hello Marybeth. First, as a mom to a dog that had open back surgery due to IVDD I want to say how sorry I am that your baby is going through this. I know first hand how difficult that surgery is. My boy regained some mobility from his surgery back in 2015 but is losing it now that he’s older. He will be in a mobility chair in the very near future (he’s 15 now). I just signed up with Rover and did the enhanced background check. I’m only planning on doing drop-in visits and walks. HOWEVER, after reading your story I’m thinking twice about it. Not that I wouldn’t guard them with my life but what if another dog gets off the other persons lead? It looks like your tiny baby was around a MUCH larger dog! (I currently have 6 dogs. All are between 4.5lbs and 15lbs). I would contact an attorney if I were you. Thank you for sharing and giving me another angle to view this from. My warmest wishes for Jersey and your family.
Elizabeth Snell says
Hello! I am so sorry to read this story. A Rover sitter lost my dog last summer and he has not been found. Thank you for sharing. Here is a link to the story about Tony and many other dogs reported on CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/30/tech/rover-pet-services-app-lost-dead-dogs/
I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your dog. I was looking for a service to watch my pets and was thinking about using Rover.
Your story changed my mind, I searched up the sitter you used, Annika F, and she’s still on Rover with a very high review rating. Her level of negligence is something I never want to see in any pet sitter.
Thank you so much for this post, it really opened my eyes. If it means spending more money to get actual professional sitters, so be it. Just looking at the pictures of Jersey and imagining this happening to my fur babies is brining tears to my eyes..
What a heartbreaking thing to have happen. Thank you for sharing. I recently had a terrible experience with Rover and will never use them again. The company is a scam with zero integrity.
its “something” all right. no transparency, no integrity…
Maxine Woodhouse says
Thank you for your voyage in talking about the situation. I hired Rover on 5/5/2022 because I had to travel out of state for a job interview. I did a meet and greet with the sitter and before dropping him off, had another extensive vibration with her regarding how my dog is an emotional support animal, another dog walking service LOST him on a walk and I needed her to follow all of my suggestions for his care. My dog was dead within five hours of being in the Rover sitter’s care. My dog was hit by a car. In the last pictures she sent, his leash is on the ground! She said she dropped her phone and it startled him and he ran off. I’m absolutely crushed and heartbroken. I immediately deboarded my plane and rushed to the hospital, but he was gone by the time I got there. I can’t stress enough, PLEASE reconsider another means for care for your fur baby if you can!
Maxine Woodhouse says
This is such a sad story. I’m so very sorry it happened to you.
Oh no, I am SOOOO sorry for your loss. very tragic and sad.
My eyes were welling with tears reading your story. I am on Rover for dog walking and sitting. I naively thought the people on Rover were just like me – working with dogs for the love of dogs.
I know when my pup is injured or has a problem – my immediate response is guilt. I feel like I should’ve noticed sooner & wondering what I may haveI missed. They completely depend on us. I’m so sorry that the person you trusted with Little Jersey didn’t take that seriously.
I don’t understand why another dog was in the house without your knowledge.. If another dog was in the house , it is her responsibility to make sure Jersey is protected. Stay in your room with her the whole time if you need to. Those pups never should have been alone together. I’m horrified that anyone would let that little baby get attacked and that there seemed to be a significant delay in serious medical care. Glossing over the seriousness of the situation is trying to protect yourself. If you don’t know at that point all your energy should be in comforting and taking care of that baby, you shouldn’t be caring for dogs. I cry thinking of her being scared and hurt and some nitwit more concerned about saving her own a**.
I’m sorry she was injured. I’m sorry she was scared. I’m happy to see her continue to thrive in a strong and loving family. You’re the kind of family I wish for all dogs. I’m so impressed that she gets herself around. Dogs are so resilient and loving. They are perfect little souls and deserve nothing but kindness. Little Jersey won the lottery with you guys.
All the best and giver her an extra treat from me! ❤️
I appreciate your kind words so much. After a few years, the pain is still fresh and I don’t think I’ll ever get too far past the feelings of anger and sadness I have when I think about the entire situation.
Jersey does indeed have a perfect little soul, and she deserves everything we can do for her. I can’t say it’s easy to care for a handicapped dog, but I’d do absolutely anything for her, so it’s all worth it.
This kills me that this happened to your little girl. I can’t imagine the scare and pain she had to go through :'( or how the sitter could take it all so lightly. It’s so awful that Rover is letting this girl continue to dog sit. I used Rover for my 18-year-old yorkie and the sitter came to my home.. I too would have did anything for my fur baby no matter the cost.
I’m sure it is hard to get past something as traumatic as this and know how emotionally and physically exhausting it can be for you, but I’m so happy you and Jersey were able to make it through and share so much love and life together. Cherish all the good moments <3
Thank you very much for your comment. It’s so appreciated.
Three days before our holiday abroad, our friend; who was meant to sit our 16 week old pup, cancelled. We frantically tried to find a replacement and ended up using Rover. We received a phone call 5 hours into our holiday, telling us that she hadn’t crated him when she went out and he’d gotten up to the third storey and fallen from a window, landing on concrete below. He was in severe shock with a snapped ligament and a broken leg. She actually tried to feed him while he was drifting in-and-out of consciousness before taking him to a vet. Thankfully, he’s making good progress in his recovery and we’re hoping that he doesn’t need a ligament fusion as it would take us over the 30 day limit on the guarantee.
Christine Wilson Miclat says
Since 2018, I have hired a Rover.com sitter five times. I have had both good and bad experiences with Rover.com sitters, and would only recommend two out of five sitters. My most recent experience was fantastic! My sitter was knowledgeable about dogs and their behavior etc. After reading about your heartbreaking experience, I am hoping my new sitter will consider sitting for me with a personal contract instead of utilizing Rover.com. I do not wish to patronize a company whose business practice is covering up the truth and endangering pets that may hire these negligent sitters!
Personally, I would not let this go without contacting and informing Brent Turner, COO of Rover.com! Maybe even filing an animal endangerment law suit involving Mr. Turner, Annika F. and the pet owner. Making sure this doesn’t happen again to a pet owner is imperative.
My heart goes out to you, your family and your sweet, Jersey. God bless.
I’m so sorry that your family had to go through this horrible experience. Thank you for posting. I’ve been a good Rover user for years. I just got back from a weekend trip, only to realize a house sitter I hired on Rover basically was absent for the majority of her stay, leaving my dog alone in the dark, starving. For two days. I’m still in shock to be honest. I’ve had always trusted the sitters on Rover and had no issues so far, but I must’ve been lucky but also naive. I had no idea about all these horror stories about Rover. Now that I know there is essentially no way of ensuring that your sitter is honest in her communications and that she will be held accountable for her misconduct, I will not be returning to Rover. Luckily my dog was fine besides being extremely hungry (and confused thinking I abandoned him… it breaks my heart), but who knows what can happen next time I end up with another lying sitter. Rover needs to do more. Do better. I’m furious.
I am so sorry that this happened to you! I have actually been dog-sitting on rover for about 6 months now. A lot of my clients have told me that they have had bad experiences with past sitters. I was curious and decided to do some research. It makes me sick how horrible this is, I feel so terrible for your family and your pup. I am SO sorry this happened to you.
Thank you so much for your comment. I’m not going to lie, this was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. The aftermath has been so, so hard, but also incredibly rewarding.
I’m so sorry this happen to you. I cried so hard when I read this. What happen to the other dog? Did you ever speak to the owners regarding the situation?
I actually don’t know what happened to the other dog, but I’m assuming nothing, at least not as a result of attacking my dog. I do care, but I only have so much time and energy in my life, and I’ve chosen to focus on my family, which includes my amazing, wonderful dog.
I want to heartfeltly thank you for posting this information online. It must have been unbelievably difficult to relive it all in such detail. My only hope is that it was in some fashion therapeutic(?) to share this information so that others could be forewarned of this danger. Rover was recently recommended to me and I had begun researching it as an option for taking care of my 2 year old rescue mixed breed. We just completed 8 months of work with a training group. She has never been in a group play environment, other than with a dog owned by family members. I wouldn’t feel safe unless she was supervised, and who knows how any dogs will react to one another. I had used pet sitters 20 years ago and my pups were worse off than using a kennel (which I’d also had bad experiences with). I thought maybe things had changed and it would be better regulated. I had my misgivings and with more research found your blog. It is so difficult to leave a pup/pups you love so much with people you do not know well. You have confirmed my original feelings about using this service. There was pressure to give it a try. Internally I questioned, what is wrong with me, that do I not trust what others are telling me is a good thing. Kudos to you for taking on the challenges of caring for a special needs dog. I’ve been there and understand exactly all of what you are saying. When I read your words I cried, feeling my own past circumstances over again. You are an amazing person and family for making it work for your little pup. Bless you all!!
I use Rover, and recently had my two dogs boarded at a sitter’s house while I was out of town for 4 days. When I got my dogs home, Beatrice (pug/chihuahua mix) seemed to have a sore back. I didn’t think too much about it, but now it’s a couple of days later and she is not able to walk without wincing in pain. Our sitter doesn’t have a dog, and she didn’t mention any incidents. I believe she allowed my pups to jump off her bed, which is too high for them. I’m devastated that I thought I was doing the very best for my beloved pups and now have an injury to deal with. So glad I saw your blog. Thank you so much for posting.