Texas dog dies while under care of dog-walking app

A couple from Texas says their dog died at the hands of a dog walker from the popular Wag! app, and that company officials have since tried to buy their silence.

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Nick and Sara Moore of Houston used Wag! on Dec. 10, 2018, to hire a last-minute walker for their wheaten terrier, Winnie. The Moores had previously used Wag! to find a caretaker for Winnie during a 10-day vacation in August and had a good experience, Nick Moore told CBS News.

But the couple's Dec. 10 experience would prove to be different. Sara Moore said she was skeptical from the beginning -- the name on the walker’s profile did not match up with the name in her description, and she did not respond when Sara asked for her name. Then, the Moores didn’t receive a standard confirmation that the walk had ended.

The walker told Sara Moore over the phone that Winnie was safe. But shortly thereafter, a Wag! representative called back and said Winnie had been struck by a car and didn’t survive, CBS News reported.

The Moores rushed home and found Winnie at a local pet hospital. The couple said goodbye.

“We asked Wag! for details on what happened and all we got in response was conflicting information or them simply saying they didn’t have much information to provide us with,” Nick Moore said.

Wag! reportedly offered to pay for cremation and a clay print of Winnie’s paw, but said the Moores first had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The couple declined.

“We could not leave any negative reviews, we could not make posts on social media, we could not hold Wag or the walker responsible, and only then would Wag reimburse us for Winnie’s cremation,” Nick Moore wrote in a Facebook post.

The Moores said they didn’t hear from Wag! again until social media posts they wrote about the incident went viral about a month after Winnie’s death. The company extended the same offer, and the Moores again declined.

"We responded that it was never about the money, that our grievance was due to their lack of compassion, and respectfully declined again," Nick Moore said.

Wag! released a statement to CBS News that said, in part, "We're a company of dog lovers and pet parents, and we're deeply saddened about what happened to Winnie. The hit-and-run accident involving Winnie was an unusual accident, and we provided the Moores with updates as we investigated what happened. We're addressing concerns about our response procedures, and we're changing our policy for paying claims to reflect a higher level of sensitivity to each situation. We care very deeply about the health and safety of the dogs walked on our platform. We use a robust vetting process that includes an application and verification process, a third-party background check, and online tests covering dog safety and handling knowledge that each applicant must pass to be approved to work on our platform."

Wag! CEO Hilary Schneider posted an open letter to the Wag! community on the company's website saying the company is listening to feedback and will change some policies. She addressed the company's practice of asking customers to sign a non-disclosure agreement when incidents happen.:

“As a result of your feedback, we’ve already updated our policy regarding such agreements so that we’re responding with the highest level of sensitivity to the nature of each individual case.”

In their social media posts, the Moores said that while they previously had good experiences the company, they don’t plan on using the app again.

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