Brooklyn women blame Wag! app for the death of their dog, Duckie

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WABC) -- It's a service known as the Uber of dog walkers, but two women in Brooklyn are blaming the app Wag! for basically losing their pet last month.

Their rescue dog Duckie was struck by a car and killed after they left him in the care of a Wag! dog walker.

On Nov. 18, Mischa Golebiewski and Morgan Stuart used the app to find a dog walker. When the walker took Duckie out, the company said the walker dropped the leash, and the pug-chihuahua mix ran off into Prospect Park.

The owners searched extensively with the help of the community and representatives from the app itself.

The search lasted about a week, until a local veterinarian reported that the dog had been struck by a car near the park and had not survived.

Duckie's owners are now blaming the app for not having properly trained their dog walkers, for waiting about an hour to inform the owners that their dog was missing, and for not doing more to rescue the dog before Duckie was killed. They hope their story will be a lesson for others, they said.

Company officials said in a statement that they stand by the training of their workers and that they spent thousands to help search for the dog. The company called the situation a tragic accident.

Duckie has been cremated and Wag! paid for those expenses.

Here is the full text of the Wag! statement:

"Wag! an on-demand dog walking app takes full responsibility for the unfortunate accident in which a dog walked by one its walkers escaped and went missing. Unfortunately, after 7 days of round the clock searching, the dog was struck by a car and died. Wag! has sent the owners its sincerest condolences and will pay for all cremation and funeral expenses. Wag! is fully insured for such a tragic and rare occurrence.

"On the evening of Wednesday, November 18th, a Wag! walker picked up two dogs, Chicken and Duckie, from the Brooklyn home of Morgan Stuart and Mischa Golebiewski, who are regular Wag! users. The walker inadvertently dropped Duckie's leash outside its 4th floor apartment and Duckie bolted for the stairs. At that very moment a building's neighbor arrived home, opening the door. Duckie ran through the building's front door. The neighbor chased Duckie, which is not what one is supposed to do when trying to capture a dog, and by the time, the walker reached the neighbor, Duckie was gone.

Duckie was a rescue who had been severely traumatized in his previous home, whose owner was a hoarder, resulting in Duckie being a "hider." His new owners had adopted him six weeks before and let Wag!'s walker know that he was skittish. The walker, who like all Wag! walkers was background checked, insured and bonded, had exchanged texts with one of Duckie's owners, assuring her that she understood that he was a nervous animal.

The walker was able to get Duckie on leash in his home without incident. After Duckie escaped, she immediately began searching for him and contacted his owners. Wag! set up humane traps, surveillance cameras, motion detectors and placed food bait in Prospect Park, where Duckie had fled. Hundreds of flyers were posted in the neighborhood. Wag! employees stayed in Prospect Park for 18 hours a day, until Park officials kicked them out for the night, for 7 days. Duckie was spotted many times over the week he was missing, but refused to come back to anyone calling him, including owner Golebiewski, who spotted him as well.

"'We did everything in our power to locate Duckie,' said Wag!'s CEO and co-founder Josh Viner. 'We are absolutely besides ourselves over this accident and send our deepest sympathy to the couple.' Wag!'s co-founder Jason Meltzer flew in from Wag!'s Los Angeles headquarters and searched for the dog.

"Wag!, which operates in five major cities across the nation, fully vets its walkers who are background checked, insured and bonded. In an effort to ease the transition of adopting a dog, Wag! offers 10 free walks to new pet parents at select shelters and also donates 10 cents for every mile walked to the Best Friends Foundation."
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