DOG WALKING APP WAG PUTS PUPS AT RISK, LONG ISLAND WOMAN CLAIMS IN LAWSUIT
by TIMOTHY BOLGER JULY 24, 2019
The dog-walker app Wag fails to properly train employees who are accused of killing at least 11 dogs in recent years, a Long Island woman alleged in a federal class action lawsuit filed this month.
The lead plaintiff, Barbara Meli, of Nassau County, and two other women filed the claim seeking $5 million in damages against the $7 billion California-based app in Central Islip federal court on July 1. The suit alleges the company violated New York State business law, negligently misrepresented its serves in its advertising, and unjustly enriched itself.
“Wag reaps huge profits in this new age of a mostly unregulated gig economy where lives are for profit, at a cost of silent deaths of the dogs who are meaningless by the standards of Wag’s technological business model,” the trio, represented by Manhattan-based attorney Susan Chana Lask, allege in the suit before Judge Joan Azrack.
Wag’s app-based business model has been likened to the ride-share app Uber or the food delivery service Grub Hub in which there is a low bar to entry for employees. Since Wag was founded in 2015, it has grown to serve more than 100 cities in 43 states.
Its dog walkers have reportedly been involved in the deaths of 11 dogs, according to The New York Post, which reported last month that Wag spokeswoman and actress Olivia Munn was dispatched to console a grieving family.
Meli said she hired an attorney after she immediately became suspicious of the company’s claims when she first tried to use the app to get someone to walk her three dogs.
“Meli did some research on the web and discovered the beginning of a horrendous history of Wag dog killings, thefts and beatings and Wag dog walkers committing other crimes in consumer homes,” according to the complaint.
Another plaintiff, Stacey Champagne, alleged in the suit that she told her Wag dog walker not to take her Golden Retriever puppy, Ellie, to a dog park because the pup was in heat, not spayed, and could easily get pregnant. But the dog walker allegedly ignored those instructions.
“Ellie… got to play around with a bunch of other dogs on our walk,” the dog walker is quoted as saying in the court documents. “I brought her down to Court Square and at one point she was surrounded by five male dogs who wouldn’t stop sniffing her.”
Now the owner is afraid that her puppy might be pregnant.
The third plaintiff, Tracey Hassel, alleged that her senior 9-year-old Cockapoo, Samson, hasn’t been the same since a Wag dog walker ignored instructions not to take the pup for a long walk during a heat wave, according to the suit.
“Accidents and incidents are rare, but we know the impact even one can have on the family involved,” the company told Courthouse News.