• Mid-South family wants action from popular app after dog dies in hired sitter's care within hours

    By: Leah Jordan

    Updated:

    A Mid-South man has a warning for anyone looking for pet care. 

    He hired a dog-sitter from a popular app, Rover. But Emanuel Toney told FOX13 Investigates his bulldog died while in care of the sitter. 

    “I bought him actually for him and my son to grow up together. I have a 1-year-old, so they were going to be the same age growing up,” Toney said. 


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    Toney called 1-year-old Rocko his workout buddy. He said Rocko was learning to skateboard and even had his own Instagram account. 

    But in August 2018, tragedy struck. 

    Toney owns a moving business that regularly takes him out of town. He said his mom usually looked after Rocko, but she was going out of town, too.  He said at that point, he booked a highly-rated sitter on Rover.

    “I get a call the same day I left, like seven hours later, telling me my dog was dead,” Toney said. “It kind of hurts me, because, you know, I know he suffered. I know he suffered and there wasn’t no one there to help him.” 

    Toney told FOX13 that Rocko died in the care of the Rover sitter. Toney said it was 96 degrees outside that August day, and the autopsy revealed the dog was dehydrated and died of a heat stroke. 

    Toney said the sitter told him that she went to church, came back, and found the dog dead.   

    “Even if Rocko was exhibiting signs of a heat stroke or distress, no one was there to see that,” Toney said. 

    Now, nearly eight months later, Toney said he’s still getting the run-around from all parties involved. Wednesday, he hired a lawyer.

    “I feel that Rover should take some responsibility. So far, they’ve only offered me a thousand dollars,” Toney said. 

    He said he feels the sitter should be held responsible as well, but that the sitter has not been in contact with him. 

    FOX13 Investigative Reporter Leah Jordan called that sitter on the phone. After she introduced herself, the sitter said she had “no comment.” 

    A Rover spokesperson offered the following statement: 

    “Our hearts go out to Rocko’s family and we will continue to support them during this difficult time. While this type of accident is extremely rare on our platform, our trust and safety team always conducts a thorough investigation to determine appropriate actions. In this case, the sitter has been removed from our platform.” 

    Toney said he hopes his new lawyer will help find answers, and justice, for Rocko. 

    “A lot of peoples’ dogs are dying in the care of Rover sitters, and I think they need to change their process as far as the screening process,” Toney said. “He’d be here right here with me right now if he was still alive, so it’s unacceptable,” he said. 

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