We have all heard the stories about those giant app-based dog walking companies, Wag! and Rover – the lost and dead dogs, the houses robbed. These stories are downright terrifying to me, and they make me glad Outdoor Dog Adventures has a different way of doing things.
Sure, the price tag on some of the services offered by Wag! and Rover might be alluring.
But what are you sacrificing when you book with them? The truth is that there are certain costs associated with running a dog walking or pet sitting business the right way, and as with many things in life, you often get what you pay for. One way these companies are able to keep their prices low is by using independent contractors rather than employees. In so doing, they are able to avoid paying the unemployment insurance, workers compensation insurance, and taxes that come with having employees.
Usually, an independent contractor is someone who runs his or her own business, but who also does work for another business. And not that all companies who used independent contractors are bad- not by any means. There are many who do it well, and who do it responsibly. But legally, a company who hires an independent contractor is prohibited from providing training for that individual. This can work out just fine in the case of companies who hire people only after they have been through an extensive vetting process. These hires would also be people with preexisting expertise in the industry.
Unfortunately, however, Wag! and Rover are extremely lax in their hiring processes.
I know this because I used to be an independent contractor for Rover, and I was approved almost immediately. No training, no interview, no test required to find out whether I knew anything about dogs. My growing sense that I no longer wanted to be associated with this company was confirmed when I read a recent article in the Wall Street Journal in which Rover claimed that it hired someone after providing training for that person. Legally, a company cannot provide training for independent contractors, and I was disheartened to see that Rover was actively trying to mislead the public in this manner.
The truth is that it is all too easy for people who are well-meaning but completely unqualified to sign up with Wag! and Rover.
It is also an easy way for people with with less-than-good intentions to make a quick buck. A college friend of my husband’s was unlucky enough to hire one of these people through Rover. In their first meeting, she seemed nice. Then, he and his wife returned from their vacation to find their dogs without food or water, and their valuables missing.
When confronted by a police escort, the sitter confessed that she hadn’t visited the house all week, had cleaned up the urine and poop accumulation the day of their return, and had indeed taken their valuables. The dogs had been without food or water for a week, and they could have died. Googling “Rover horror stories” will reveal that this sort of thing has happened many times.
Wag! is no better.
A quick google search of the words “Wag! horror stories” will tell you the tragedies that have befallen users of this app. Although Wag ! claims that their contractors are “Wag! guaranteed” and “thoroughly vetted”, the latest edition of their terms and conditions tells you that they have very little confidence in their ability to provide safe, quality, service:
“WAG! MAKES NO REPRESENTATION, WARRANTY, OR GUARANTY AS TO THE RELIABILITY, SAFETY, TIMELINESS, QUALITY, SUITABILITY OR AVAILABILITY OF ANY SERVICES, PRODUCTS OR GOODS OBTAINED BY THIRD PARTIES THROUGH THE USE OF THE SERVICES. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES, AND ANY THIRD PARTY SERVICES OR PRODUCTS REMAINS SOLELY WITH YOU, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.”
I hear horror stories about Wag! and Rover all the time.
It is one reason why I am extremely thorough with our hiring and training process. First, employees must submit a formal cover letter and resume. On their application, they are asked many questions about their level of experience with dogs. They are then administered the same pre-employment assessment used by companies like Home Depot, Zales, Woolworth, Ralph Lauren, and Best Buy. This assessment is followed by an in-person interview and reference check, as well as a city, state, and county background check.
If they make it through the hiring process, new Outdoor Dog Adventures employees read an extensive handbook, training manual, and behavior manual, and are then tested over this material. They complete cpr/first aid certification, orientation, and on-the-job training. Even after they begin doing visits by themselves, their visits are timed and GPS-tracked through an app, allowing us to know that they are where they should be at any given time. If someone was late starting a visit, our software would alert us.
Another benefit of using a local company like Outdoor Dog Adventures is the personal stake we have in our business.
We take a great deal of pride in our ability to take the best possible care of our clients and their dogs. We want to get to know our clients, and we want them to be happy. If a client is upset, then we feel it, too. With Wag! and Rover, where is the accountability? I’ve heard numerous stories about how these companies respond when something goes wrong, and the common theme seems to be that their first priority is to do as little as possible. Many unfortunate people have learned, too late, that the insurance these companies offer actually covers very little, and that the terms and conditions they signed protect the company from having to do very much at all. At Outdoor Dog Adventures, we have top-quality bonding and insurance. We want our clients and sitters to be protected when the unexpected happens.
I’ve heard so many stories of people booking with Wag! and Rover sitters and walkers, only to have the person cancel at the last second or vanish into thin air.
Do you really want to be left scrambling to find someone to care for your dog while you are at work or trying to enjoy your vacation? What is the backup plan if your sitter gets sick, and who is going to help you in that situation? We have a team of sitters and a system to ensure that you are covered if this situation should occur.
When Outdoor Dog Adventures began growing to the point that I realized we needed help, there was never any question for me that I would hire employees rather than independent contractors, and that I would hire and train them carefully. I knew I wanted to be able to provide the kind of guidance and strict oversight one can only have with employees. I love Outdoor Dog Adventures, and I hope you do, too. Are you ready to talk to a company you can trust? Good! Then give us a call at (502) 791-6287, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website.