LOS ANGELES -- Dan Noyes asked pet sitter Casey Brengle, "Just checking, you knew that there was a security camera there?" She answered, "I did."
A South Bay pet sitter was caught on camera getting romantic in a customer's home, after being hired through a popular dog walking app.
This story provides some tips in this "gig economy" if you use phone apps for food delivery, personal shopping, massage or dog walking.
The company in question tells us they do thorough background checks on their dog walkers and pet sitters who are independent contractors, but that the reported conduct, in this case, is "unacceptable".
Rosie Brown has two rambunctious little dogs, Penny and Daisy. When she headed out of town for a wedding three weeks ago, she turned to a popular app to find a pet sitter called "Wag!".
Brown met 26-year-old Wag! dog walker and sitter, Brengle. She told Dan Noyes, "She had 210 five star reviews and I'm thinking, okay, this is great."
They agreed on four-and-a-half days of house-sitting with long walks for $315, and discussed the doggie cam on the kitchen counter; it also shoots out treats. Brown headed to Louisiana and, on the day of her cousin's wedding, received an alert from the camera.
"On the preview on the alert, it showed a man in our house, someone that I wasn't expecting," said Brown. "So I opened it up and that's when I saw she was there with a man in our house and they were going straight for our bedroom."
The video shows Casey's boyfriend at the apartment on several occasions-- at one point, locking the dogs outside the master bedroom-- on another, going from the master to the guest bedroom.
After several days of texting, Brengle finally agreed to speak with the I-Team on camera.
Noyes: "She believes that you were having sex in both of the bedrooms."
Brengle: "It's okay that she believes that, that's not what was going on."
Brengle's father and mother also visited, even though the Wag! guidelines say its walkers and sitters "should not allow any third parties into the home of the Pet Parent". And several times, the camera caught Brengle naked on the couch that Rosie Brown had saved for six months to buy.
"It got hot," said Brengle. "As I've said, I don't like wearing clothes."
Brown: "To see that video where she's like butt naked, sitting on it, laying on it, that was really hard 'cause like we just bought it. I don't lay down right there, you know?"
Noyes: "Oh really? It's actually affected the way that you use your own couch?"
Brown: "That actually that used to be my favorite spot, right in the middle of it. I don't really touch it."
Noyes: "She can't sit on her favorite spot any longer because she has that image of you being naked on that same spot. Do you understand that?"
Brengle: "I do, I do, and I feel terrible about it. It was not something I did with intent or malice."
She tells us, Brown allowed her boyfriend to come over for dinner on a previous job, but that she did not clear any visitors for this session. The camera also documented Brengle taking the dogs out for just one to five-minute potty breaks; not the 30 or 60 minute walks usually ordered through the Wag! app. And it caught her cursing at Daisy after the dog had been playing rough with Penny, "b**ch!"
Noyes: "Is that really appropriate?"
Brengle: "No, it's not, but she had been acting like a jerk and I agree, that's not appropriate, I was frustrated, not at her, at myself, at other things. I had gotten in a fight with my mom and I agree, it was not appropriate."
After Brown complained to Wag! and I contacted the company, they suspended Brengle and sent the I-Team a statement that reads in part, "The reported behavior in this situation is unacceptable and contrary to our Community Guidelines... We expect everyone on the Wag! platform to conduct themselves professionally."
It can be difficult to find a good dog walker or pet sitter. We checked with the Better Business Bureau and they said Wag! has had some trouble in recent months addressing consumer complaints.
The BBB has received 47 complaints about Wag! since September 2017 for things like not applying credits properly; walkers not showing up for scheduled walks; keys, money or other items stolen; and dogs getting loose on the walker's time.
Last month, the bureau gave Wag! an "F" for the way it addressed complaints, changed it to "NR" or "not rated" while they worked with the company "to help them improve their process for responding to and resolving consumer complaints", and this week, awarded Wag! an A+ for the progress they made.
Brown still has questions about how Wag! supervises walkers, once they pass the company's background check.
"How do you know a Wag! walker who's done a thousand walks or 500 sitting sessions, how they're doing on the 501st session," asked Brown. "They could be a totally different person from when you last checked in with them for the background check."
The company responds, "Pet parents' ratings and feedback provide Wag! an ongoing assessment of the pet care provider's services. It also helps us to determine whether a provider should be allowed to remain on the platform."
Wag! is offering to pay for cleaning services and a locksmith.
Here are some tips: be honest on your application about your expectations and your dogs. Reveal any problems they may have, say with aggression. Meet the worker before you hire them, and buy one of those doggie cams.
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