The owners of a 10 1/2-year-old French bulldog are suing Wags!, the West Hollywood-based dog walking company, after their pet was run over by an SUV in March and later died of its injuries, allegedly due to the inattentiveness of its walker.
Plaintiffs Brandon Engholm and Brittany Rawlings say they did not know about the fate of their pet until they were contacted by a veterinarian. They filed the suit Oct. 1 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The suit’s allegations include fraud and negligence, and the pair seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction preventing the company from withholding information about injuries or deaths to their pets. The lawsuit does not state the relationship between the plaintiffs.
“Specifically, plaintiffs relied upon and believed Wag!’s advertisements that Wag!’s dog walkers were certified for trust and safety, were insured and bonded and were vetted through background checks to ensure each dog walker is competent, qualified and trained in the care and safety of pets in or related to Wag!’s custody, and that if anything goes wrong, Wag! would make it right,” according to the suit, which contains images of Wag! advertisements.
A Wag! representative issued a statement Friday regarding the lawsuit.
“While we don’t comment on pending litigation, ensuring the safety and security of all those who use the Wag! platform is of utmost importance to us,” the statement read. “Every day, thousands of pets are cared for using the Wag! platform. Accidents and incidents are rare, but we know the impact even one can have on the family involved. We are committed to the safety and security of our platform, and you can learn more about our Trust & Safety measures here: wagwalking.com/trust-safety.“
A Wag! walker arrived at the plaintiffs’ New York City home on March 3 to take their French bulldog, Burger, on a 30-minute walk, the suit states.
After learning from the vet that the dog had died, the dog owners were given no help from Wag! customer service, which stated it had no history of a walk of Burger that day, the suit states.
“Plaintiffs had to relive Burger’s last moments up to the killing by piecing together external video surveillance from local businesses along (the believed to be) route Wag!’s inhumane dog walker took,” the suit states.
A video image included in the suit shows the walker looking at her cellphone with the elderly dog walking far behind her.
The last video shows Burger walking slowly and alone in a crosswalk as he is run over by an SUV while the walker was on the sidewalk, the suit states.
Witnesses told the plaintiffs that immediately after the dog was run over and struggling to stay alive, the walker did not render aid, but instead stood there, repeating her concern she could lose her job with Wag! and saying that she was going to miss a concert that day with friends, according to the suit.
The suit includes a photo of a witness collapsing in tears at the sight of the dog being hit by the vehicle.