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Broken Hearts and Lessons Learned

The tragic death of Winnie, and Wag's attempt to cover it up.

· News,Stories

As a small startup, our social media and blog posts have in most part been written by the huge-hearted volunteers that have so graciously given their time to Heroly. They do this because they believe in our mission and how we are trying to change and educate the industry. I am so grateful for them.

This blog post, however, has been written by me, Audrey, the Founder of Heroly. I want to extend my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to Winnie’s family. Writing this story has come with tears, heartache, and a lot of anger. I want to emphasize that this was not written for any strategic advantage but for the hopes of helping Sara spread her story and bring to light the WHY of what we are so passionately trying to solve.

Sara and Nick Moore posted a story about how their adorable Wheaten Terrier puppy, Winnie, was tragically killed on December 10th, in the care of a Wag walker. She made a point to make it clear she wasn’t looking for sympathy but wanted to share how Wag has handled the aftermath. Winnie was hit but they do not have any more information than that because Wag has failed to provide it to them

The walker, in addition to using a name other than her own, misled Sara by saying everything was fine and Winnie was safe at home until a representative at Wag called her with the terrible news. Wag offered to pay for cremation and other expenses they felt necessary (clay paw print, etc.) After sending receipts, she was told they would only reimburse her if they agreed to not press charges or share the story in any way in reviews or social media. After careful consideration they decided not to accept this offer and Wag said that the offer would remain open should they reconsider. One day later, they revoked that offer.

"We agreed that getting a reimbursement was not worth pretending as though this never happened."

This is a situation where Wag had the opportunity show compassion, empathy, and maybe an ounce of humanity, but instead were more concerned about their reputation (which has been declining with each horrific story such as the one last week where the walker was abusing a dog calling it “training”). They could have sent someone to talk with her in person (this would have been my priority), offer grief counseling, offered to pay for expenses regardless of hush-contracts, but they did exactly as we have come to expect with this company; disappoint and neglect their customer's feelings.

I am sharing this story to re-emphasize how important it is to be aware of the great risk involved when placing trust in a complete stranger to enter your home and take care of a beloved pet. Your dog should be familiar and comfortable with the person coming into your home, and frankly, so should you. There are too many variables in the existing on-demand model. To put that industry in perspective, every company in this space (Uber, Postmates, Wag, etc) are all fighting for the same contractors to work for them – people who have flexible schedules and are looking for extra income. The process doesn’t work without a supply of workers, so as the space gets more competitive, the quality of these individuals will decline.

We also aren’t sharing this story to encourage usage of Heroly, but sincerely want to share how uneducated, untrained, and hardly-vetted contracted walkers are NOT the option that you should turn to. This “Uberization” of the dog-walking industry was and still is a terrible model for all involved (except maybe Wag). I cannot tell you a single Uber driver that I have had who I would trust in my home or with my dog, Vader. Please consider your options when choosing a walk/care provider for your pet. Not only is it risky, but you could end up with a situation where the company has a complete lack of understanding or compassion for incidents.

On a side note: We have reached out to Sara and offered to pay for grief counseling if desired and our expert canine behaviorist, Jonas Black, will be offering his services for free when they get their next furry family member. Sara and Nick will be bringing another Wheaten Terrier into the family, a puppy from the same breeder as Winnie, who was born the day after Winnie died

“We couldn’t believe it and it felt like fate... We’re hoping she has a bit of Winnie’s sweet spirit in her.”

Our goal is to give Sara and Nick confidence and comfort in knowing their dog has gone through professional leash and recall training. We also can’t wait to set up a community event in her neighborhood and hopefully connect some neighbors and provide another option for her with our platform.

Thank you, Sara and Nick, for sharing your story and allowing us to help you and your family. Our hearts are forever with you and Winnie. Your story is one more motivator in why we do what we do here at Heroly.

- Audrey Kiefer

Founder, Heroly

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