A New York City couple is hoping to raise awareness after they said their beloved Shih Tzu Yorkie, Benny, was stolen from their apartment by a Wag dog walker. “It really is every dog parent’s worst nightmare,” Sophie and Max Troper told CBS News.
The couple said they received confirmation from Wag at approximately 9:30 a.m. Thursday that Benny’s walk for that afternoon was confirmed with a walker named Christian. But approximately an hour later, the Tropers say they received a text saying Christian was no longer the walker and a new person was scheduled.
Later, the couple say they received a call from the newly assigned walker for the day, who said he could not find Benny.
“Initially, we thought Benny might be hiding somewhere or that somehow this new walker was mistaken,” the couple explained.
When the couple realized Benny was missing, Max rushed home and Sophie immediately called Wag.
The Tropers realized Benny’s disappearance had to be linked to a Wag walker because the company is the only one with access to their lockbox code. The couple also called the police, ran to speak with building management, made fliers, posted on social media and went to nearby businesses and requested surveillance video that may have shown the incident.
Olivia Munn, the app’s celebrity spokeswoman, also got involved. She spoke with the couple for several hours to help form a plan to find Benny.
The next day, surveillance video was released showing Christian Madriaga, 22, entering the Troper’s building at around 10:50 a.m. Thursday and leaving with Benny in his arms at around 11 a.m. Later on Friday, Benny was found by a New York Police Department detective at Madriaga’s residence. He was arrested and charged with burglary.
The couple believes Madriaga may have taken the dog in hopes of giving Benny to a loved one.
“It absolutely blows our mind how someone could do such a thing. If you want a dog, there are thousands of shelters and rescues with dogs looking for [their] fur-ever homes,” they said.
The investigation is still ongoing, but the couple hopes “Wag improves the security of its platform so that no pet parent has to needlessly experience this type of trauma and violation.”
This is not the first time Wag has come under scrutiny. Last year, a dog belonging to a Houston, Texas couple was reportedly hit by a car and killed while under the care of a Wag dog walker. The couple claimed Wag attempted to cover up their pet’s death.