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A couple whose dog was stolen by a dog walker from the Wag! app created a social media campaign to help find their lost pup. Now that the dog’s been found, the couple is calling for a boycott of the app.
Dog owners Sophie and Max Troper live in New York City with their dog Benny, who they adopted in 2015, according to BuzzFeed News. On Thursday, they scheduled Benny for a walk with a Wag walker, something they typically do when they are both at work. The couple said they received a notification that someone named Christian was assigned to walk Benny, only to receive another notification an hour later that someone else was assigned the walk. When the second walker arrived at the apartment, Benny was gone.
“Benny was stolen from inside our apartment by someone who knew how to access our lockbox with the spare key,” the couple said in a post on the pup’s Instagram, @bennytheshorkie. “This lockbox code was only provided to Wag walkers and is accessed only by the app. The walker for today arrived and Benny was nowhere to be found. We believe that the person who KIDNAPPED Benny was likely a @wag walker not scheduled for today. We only have grainy security footage and the doorman’s statement to help identify the thief.”
The couple contacted the police and posted pictures of Benny and the kidnapper on Instagram with #FindBenny.
The Tropers also tagged actress Olivia Munn, a spokesperson for Wag, to enlist her help. Part of their problem, according to the Instagram chronicles, was getting Wag, the New York Police Department, and the apartment complex to work together.
“Everyone just wants Benny to be home,” they wrote in an Instagram story. “He already went through enough trauma in his life.”
Roughly 36 hours later, Benny was found at the Wag walker’s home, the Tropers announced in an Instagram post.
“The suspect was charged with burglary and released pending next court date. Investigation continues. We cannot comment publicly on the case,” the Tropers wrote. “What we can say is that some very interesting things are being learned, and we will share as soon as we can.”
NYPD confirmed to BuzzFeed that the suspect was 21-year-old Christian Madriaga. He apparently stole Benny to “give to someone else,” according to an update posted to Benny’s Instagram. The Tropers said they would never use Wag again and started spreading #BoycottWag.
“Wag claims they do not know how this man received access and are ‘investigating,’ but we believe they just do not want to take responsibility for this huge breach on their end,” the couple wrote. “They are not being transparent. They sent one email blast to walkers but made no mention of this crime or their involvement. They also have taken no responsibility or posted about this on their social media.”
In a statement to the Daily Dot, a Wag spokesperson said the app’s algorithm was changed so that walkers could no longer share lockbox codes and dog owners who had direct contact with Madriaga were notified. The statement also offered an apology for the ordeal.
“We want to apologize to our loyal Wag! community, but most of all, we want to apologize to Benny and his parents for what happened and what they had to go through,” the statement said. “We are in direct communication with Benny’s parents to discuss this situation and to ensure their needs and concerns are addressed.”
The Tropers did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
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H/T BuzzFeed News
Katie Balevic is an editorial intern at the Daily Dot where she enjoys covering social justice issues and politics. Her previous work has appeared in the Daily Texan, the Victoria Advocate, and the Houston Defender.