Dog-walking service Wag, the subject of fairly numerous press reports in the tabloid media regarding lost canines, has come up again in NYC rag the New York Post in reference to yet another pup that slipped a leash.
According to the Post’s report, said dog is named Teddy, was lost in East Harlem on May 11th, and was eventually recovered the next day when he made his way back to the owner’s home on Saturday. Photos of the dog in question confirm our initial assumption that Teddy is adorable.
According to the Post, Wag did wage a fairly serious effort to locate Teddy before he turned up by himself, though the tip line the company set up did play a role in his return:
Wag spokeswoman Caroline Hartman said the company posted lost-dog fliers, hired an external search team, informed local authorities and sent out a doggie Amber alert after learning Teddy got loose.
The fliers helped, Hartman said—but only after the dog made it all the way back home to his front door.
“A neighbor saw one of the fliers that had been posted and notified the Wag tip line that Teddy had made his way back to the front of his building,” the rep said.
While dog-sitters are technically required to obtain licenses in New York, there exists no such requirement for walkers. There’s a thriving market for dog-walking services, especially for those who have built up a record of good reviews. What Wag offers to distinguish itself is essentially similar to an Uber for dogs, which has attracted the service a fair amount of scrutiny. (According to the Post, there are at least eight documented instances of missing dogs, including five since 2015.) The company reportedly “extensively trains” its workers, per the Post [see update below], and also purports to pre-screen the individuals allowed to participate in the service.
In addition to several incidents in which Wag-walked dogs were allegedly lost or harmed, the service was recently embroiled in reports it gave the personal information of a dog-walker who lost a canine to an irate customer. However, given that there’s nothing approaching a centralized database on dog-walking mishaps in New York, the question of whether Wag is in the aggregate safer or not than hiring any rando is a little unclear. Per the Wall Street Journal, though, the service did leave data on some customers including passcodes to the lockboxes it provides for customers to leave keys unprotected on the web, which has unsettled some customers.
This situation at least resulted in nothing worse than a temporarily lost doggo. In some prior instances allegedly involving the company, pets have died. Some legislators have called for the service to be regulated in response, though those efforts have not yet borne fruit.
Gizmodo has reached out to Wag and the dog owner in question for comment, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.
Update, May 15th, 2018 at 12:30pm ET: In a statement, a Wag spokesperson contested the Post’s reporting that the company claims it “extensively trains” workers. Instead, they said, the workers are vetted during the application process.
“Walkers are not extensively trained but they are screened and vetted to ensure they have dog care experience,” the spokesperson told Gizmodo. “Our application process includes two assessment tests covering the walker’s experience handling and caring for dogs as well as leash and harness knowledge. The health and safety of the Wag! community is our first priority.”