Dog Abuse

Dog Sitter Accused of Animal Cruelty, Theft Hired Through Popular Online Service

When a Massachusetts firefighter planned to travel to Mexico for a week long vacation, he worried about how his senior dog would fare in a kennel environment and, instead, chose to hire an in-home dog sitter that promised to provide personal, loving care to his furriest family member while he was away.

Joe Hingston used the popular dog sitter matching service, DogVacay, to hire a sitter for Sullivan, or “Sully,” his 13-year old Akita.

While Joe began feeling uneasy about how Sully was doing a few days into his trip, it wasn’t until a neighbor called to tell him the sitter was leaving Sully alone in the house for extended periods of time and making several trips to load items into her car. The neighbor later to say that Sully was howling and screaming in pain. Hingston tried everything he could to cut his trip short and rush home.

When he arrived, he found Sully in deplorable conditions, severely neglected, injured, and suffering. He has ear infections, a kidney infection, open sores, bruises, and a puncture to his spine. Veterinarians believe Sully was kicked or beaten and left laying in his own urine and feces. In less than one week, Sully had lost 10 pounds and the once confident dog is now skittish and despondent.

In addition, cash, gift cards, a donation set aside for his local fire department, and items totaling a value of at least $5,000 were stolen from Hingston’s home.

The theft, Hingston says, is the least of his worries.

“You stole my money,” Hingston told CBS Boston. “That doesn’t mean you have to hurt him.”

DogVacay has since removed the dog sitter from their database and said in a statement that, “this is a deeply heartbreaking event as we think of our dogs as our own family.” The service also explained that the sitter had passed rigorous background checks before being listed on the site.

Quincy Police have issued a summons for the accused dog sitter. She is expected to face charges of animal cruelty and larceny in connection with the incident.

Hingston will think twice before hiring another in-home dog sitter and urges anyone planning to do the same to get personal references and to check them thoroughly.

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