Dog Abuse

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

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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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  1. Avatar Of Diane



    In UK I am a dog buddy, I do daycare and overnight boarding, I look after my animals and would never harm my dogs let a lone someones furbabies, this woman needs locking up and a good beating, I hope the dog in question is getting better, just horrendous

  2. Avatar Of Rhonda



    As a pet sitter this completely disgusts me. I often complain that some of the client’s I service aren’t treating their pets as well as i think they should and would never dream of harming an animal. This gives all quality sitters a bad name. I hope if she doesn’t rot in jail that Karma gets her ass!

  3. Avatar Of Kaya



    i have had nothing but good experiences with in home dog sitters. i’m sorry he had a bad experience and if it’s true that they don’t truly do background checks, shame on them. what a horrible thing to have happen to your pet while you’re away 🙁

  4. Avatar Of Frances



    As a pet sitter this makes my blood boil. I don’t do over night, mainly cats and dogs when the pet parents are away for a day trip. I have pets of my own and try to treat other peoples pets as well if not better than my own. After years of working Animal Control, I saw the horror of what people can do to animals. I have references and suggest they do a back ground check on me, I sure do on them, as I want to know who’s home I am going into.

  5. Avatar Of Stoja9



    Not kidding, I would hunt this person down. You don’t F with my family and my pets are family.

  6. Avatar Of S B

    S B


    I owned and operated a Pet Sitting Service for 30 years. The Best thing I would recommend is to have security cameras in place. This protects the pets And the sitting service. I am convinced our nation needs to install stricter animal abuse laws! Unfortunately, there are bad people in this world. I’m praying for Sullys quick recovery and hope the sitter suffers Severe consequences!

  7. Avatar Of J A Leigheb

    J a leigheb


    Did this poor lad recover in every way . I see the sweet soul was emotionally damaged as well (who wouldn’t be) but I hope he recovered fully and is now leading a full life of love and fun . God bless his dear soul

  8. Avatar Of Crystal Rose Crystal Rose says:

    I hope she gets at least 10 years for this but I doubt she will. What a horrible person!

  9. Avatar Of Renee



    like he said… one thing to take his money but to hurt his precious baby who means more then anything to him. i hope this girl ends up in jail where she belongs! i am praying for your sweet boy! thank you for sharing your story. we are very careful who we trust to watch our furkids. it’s so sad that you put your trust into someone who passed all of these checks and you thought you could trust that. hoping sully makes it through this. it’s not only physical, there are obvious emotional scars. i just don’t understand how anyone could ever hurt an animal and to do such a thing to his dad who puts his life on the line to protect ours. sending prayers and love!

    • Avatar Of Kayla



      DogVacay does absolutely no background check! I have owned and operated a professional pet sitting service for over 12 years. When I heard about DogVacay, I wanted to know what it was all about. I joined to see what kind of service they provide. Be warned, they didn’t do even a little bit of a check on me. All I had to do was provide my name and address….that’s it. As a professional who takes my business, clients and their pets in my care very seriously, I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. I knew it was only a matter of time before things like this would start to happen when criminals and other folks out to make a quick buck got wind of this service. This is very sad for this dog and this man. I hope Sully is able to make a full recovery. Sending healing thoughts and love.

  10. Avatar Of Chris M

    Chris M


    That is exactly WHY my husband and I only take vacations that allow us to bring the dogs. I have a 15 y/o GR, there is no way I would entrust her care to a stranger. Sorry you had to learn the hard way. Hope Sully makes a full recovery. What the sitter did is unthinkable, inexcusable and just plain sorry.

  11. Avatar Of Rie A

    Rie A


    and i bet if she gets in any trouble it will be for the stealing not the dog with the way this system works the nasty bitch needs to go to jail

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