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Houston family looking for answers after their dog died while in care of dog walker

The incident happened last month, but since then the family said there have been more questions than answers about what happened to their dog Winnie.

HOUSTON — A Houston family is warning pet owners after their dog dies while being watched by someone they hired through the popular phone app Wag!

Nick and Sara Moore said the company tried to cover up the incident.

It happened last month, but since then the family said there have been more questions than answers about what happened to their dog Winnie.

On their website, Wag! said each dog walker is vetted and must pass a background check. However, the family believes something went terribly wrong on the day Winnie died.

Home videos show the love the couple has for their dog.

“She loved people. She loved being around us. She was just perfect,” Nick Moore said.

The Wheaten Terrier joined their family in August last year.

“Winnie was the best part of our day,” he said. “We called her my four-legged soulmate. She the kindest animal you’d ever met.”

The Moores had used Wag! to find dog walkers to take Winnie out when they were gone.Wag! is an app that connects dog owners with dog walkers.

The walks can be tracked on your phone.

On Dec.  10, the person they hired first told Nick’s wife Winnie was "okay" when she called to check-in. Moments later a Wag! representative called to tell them Winnie had been killed.

“We both just collapsed and fell apart,” Moore said. “It was awful.”

Moore suspects the walker was careless and Winnie was hit by a car based off her injuries.

Wag! offered to pay to cover Winnie’s cremation but also asked them to sign a non-disclosure agreement which the Moores did not sign.

Moore said, “When you don’t have any information about what happened your imagination can kind of run wild and it starts to fill in the blanks with worst case scenarios which makes the healing process really hard.”

In a statement Wag! said:

 We extend our sympathy to the Moores during this difficult time. As a company of dog lovers and pet parents, we were devastated about what happened to Winnie. The hit-and-run accident involving Winnie was an unusual situation, and we provided the Moores with updates as we investigated what happened. We're addressing concerns about our response procedures, and we’re changing our policy for paying claims to reflect a higher level of sensitivity to each situation.

We've reviewed the walker's records and can confirm that she is who she said she was, and that the name she used on her profile is a nickname. We cannot speak for the walker's response to the pet parent, but we do know that she, along with a good Samaritan, took the dog to a nearby veterinarian immediately after the accident. The walker has been deactivated from the Wag! platform. Prior to this incident, she had very high ratings for her walks and no safety incidents.

We care very deeply about the health and safety of the dogs walked on our platform. We use a robust vetting process that includes an application and verification process, a third-party background check, and online tests covering dog safety and handling knowledge that each applicant must pass to be approved to work on our platform.

Moore said the tragic incident has also been a learning experience but it doesn’t make it any easier to move on without a special member of his family.

“What did we do before we had Winnie. We couldn’t imagine it. We’ve had to relearn what that was like but there’s just a hole there now,” he said.

To help fill that void the Moores plan to welcome a new puppy next month.

They plan to name it Rory and believe that Rory will help with the healing process.

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