Local man says he was forced to pay $1,100 to get dog back after using popular pet sitter app

ATLANTA — An Atlanta man says he had to pay more than $1,100 in ransom to get his dog back after he used a popular app Rover to hire a pet sitter.

Rover then kicked the dog owner off the platform and refused to refund his money until Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray got involved.

“I was just forced to pay the ransom because if I didn’t pay it, then I don’t know what he would have done to my dog, Boi,” Josh Garcia told Gray.

Garcia booked a pet sitter through Rover in October for his energetic rescue dog, Boi, while he was going to be out of town on a Caribbean cruise.

“So, I get on the app, and I find a sitter who has plenty of great reviews,” Garcia said.

But after the first day, the sitter claimed Boi bit a family member and demanded money for medical bills.

Garcia said while Boi has never been aggressive, he was willing to pay, but he asked for proof of medical bills and invoices

“When I asked for the invoices, he started getting very defensive and saying that if he’s going to provide them, that the rate is going to double,” Garcia said.

The pet sitter never provided any documents or bills. He just sent a text message with a tally of charges including questionable numbers like a $104 ambulance ride.

Garcia said the pet sitter demanded money be paid through CashApp.

Garcia instead paid the ransom through the Rover portal, after he said he got no help from Rover customer support.

“Unless I gave him the money, he wouldn’t release Boi to me or my family. So, at that point, I had no other option but to pay the ransom in order to get Boi back” Garcia said.

Garcia said that Rover would not help, and instead kicked him off the platform for what it called violations of its terms of use.

After Gray contacted Rover, they returned all of the $1,100 Garcia had paid the pet sitter and removed the pet sitter from the Rover platform.

Rover stated: “We’re happy that Boi is home with Mr. Garcia Barreto. We understand what a difficult experience he had and are issuing him a full refund. While extremely rare, when a safety incident occurs, we will take appropriate actions including removing users from our platform.”

“This scammer knew that I was out of the country and that I would do whatever for my dog,” Garcia said.

A Rover spokesperson said that “this experience is truly unusual.”

Rover said over 500,000 services have been booked in the Atlanta area, with over 97% of reviews receiving 5 stars.

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