Wag!, a tech startup that touts itself as an Uber for dog walkers, has its tail between its legs this week.
A dog walker hired through the new app that connects pet owners with walkers lost a Brooklyn couple’s Chihuahua, who subsequently was hit by a car and killed.
Morgan Stuart and Mischa Golebiewski had a regular dog walker, also through Wag!, but when that dog walker called in sick on Nov. 18, another Wag! walker was assigned.
The woman was supposed to take out the couple’s oldest dog, Chicken, and check on Duckie, but apparently she either misunderstood the instructions, or Duckie slipped out of the building.
The couple said they cautioned the new walker that Duckie, who was adopted two months earlier, was fearful of strangers and would probably be too anxious to go for a walk.
“We had a text conversation explaining the situation,” Golebiewski told the New York Daily News. “She said she could do it and was comfortable.”
The California-based company claims on its website that all their dog walkers are “certified” and “rigorously screened/vetted.”
The couple spent the next seven days searching for the dog.
Wag! executives contributed to the search, calling upon other dog walkers to help.
They also installed motion detecting cameras in nearby Prospect Park and set traps near where Duckie had been spotted, the Daily News reported.
“We do have a plan in place in the .00001% chance something like this can happen,” said Wag! co-founder Joshua Viner.
According to Wag! representatives, Wag! co-founder Jason Meltzer flew in from Los Angeles to search the park for a day, and the company’s New York manager spent 18 hours a day in the park for a week.
On the day before Thanksgiving, Duckie’s owners got a call from a veterinarian saying the dog had been fatally struck by a car on Seeley Street, near the edge of the park.
“We feel terrible. It hurts us,” Viner said, offering an apology that sounded pretty self-centered. “This literally stopped my week.”
(Photos courtesy of Morgan Stuart and Mischa Golebiewski)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 2nd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, app, brooklyn, chihuahua, dog, dog walker, dog walking, dogs, dogwalker, dogwalking, duckie, lost, pets, technology, uber, wag, walkers
They may be well-intentioned and address a real issue, but these parking crates for dogs that have appeared on the streets of New York worry me.
The woman behind them hopes to have 100 of them in place in Brooklyn by next spring, place them throughout New York City and, eventually, other cities across the country.
It works like this: You sign up for a membership, and receive a member card in the mail that unlocks the temperature controlled doghouse. Then you’re billed through the mail at a rate of 20 cents per minute.
Chelsea Brownridge told Fox 5 the idea grew out of her own concerns about leaving her dog Winston tied up when she has to run into a store.
Of course, that’s a troublesome practice, too — and more than a few dogs have been stolen after being left tied outside stores in New York, and elsewhere.
Dog parkers are now in test mode outside of two Fort Greene businesses, including Baguetteaboutit on Vanderbilt and DeKalb, where a spokesman welcomed the idea.
“A lot of our customers will open up the door and yell out to us, ‘Can you bring me out a sandwich? Can you bring me a menu? I don’t want to leave my dog.’ And we’ll accommodate them. This gives them an opportunity to take care of their dog while they come in and take care of themselves.”
Seems to me taking steps to accommodate dog-walking customers outdoors would be an easier solution — as would people leaving their dogs at home when they have the need to shop.
My main objections though come from being claustrophobic, and a technophobe.
The dog parking crate reminds me a little bit of those newspaper boxes (which you can probably get a pretty good deal on nowadays) — and simple as they were they often malfunctioned.
Dogs can see out of the boxes through a small plastic window, but the boxes still seem uncomfortably confining. And anything that is “temperature controlled” can see its temperature go out of control.
On top of that, anyone who has had to return to the hotel lobby three or more times to get one of those key cards rejiggered — so it actually opens the door to their room — knows those cards can’t be trusted.
What’s going to happen when a dog owner can’t get his dog out of the box?
An app is in the works that will allow customers to reserve boxes, but they otherwise will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Will New Yorkers end up fighting over them too, as they do parking spaces and taxi cabs? Will Uber dog parking boxes surface, charging only 10 cents a minute?
If a key card is able to open any dog parking crate in the city, might thieves just maybe figure that out and sign up for membership?
There are just too many questions. It might be easier to just make all business establishments dog friendly.
Until then, always walk with another friend when out with your dog, or leave the dog home, or — difficult as it may be — skip the baguette.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 1st, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, boxes, brooklyn, crates, dog, dog parking, dog walking, dogs, dogwalking, key cards, membership, new york, new york city, pets, stolen, stores, thefts, tie, tied, tied up, walking
In the annals of Gotham’s crimefighting superheroes, Abby Weissman might not go down as one of the all-time greatest.
But at least he will be noted for capturing a dog pooping on camera and, far more important, that doggie’s caretaker not picking it up.
Faster than a speeding bullet, he posted it on Facebook:
In the post, Weissman fires a first blow in his quest for justice, and calls upon others to join in fighting the scourge of canine caretakers who don’t pick up after their charges — by submitting photos and videos of scofflaws caught in the act to his block association’s Facebook page.
Weissman is president of the South Oxford Street Block Association in New York’s Fort Greene neighborhood.
The association started a “Dog Walkers Hall of Shame” campaign July 30, after his home security camera captured a dog walker, busy with her cell phone, walking away from the mess the dog had just deposited on the sidewalk in front of his house.
Weissman hopes a little public humiliation will be more effective than the seldom enforced “pooper scooper” law, and its $250 fines.
Since 2013, 63 “pooper scooper” violations have been issued in Brooklyn, DNAInfo reports. An officer must witness the incident to issue a summons, according to the Department of Sanitation.
Weissman, like any good superhero, seemed to take a great deal of pride in catching the scofflaw, at least on video. “We always wanted a photo or video or someone actually letting their dog shit and purposefully leaving it there. Here it is, thanks to Dropcam.”
I’m all for owners taking responsibility for what their dogs drop, and all for laws enforcing that. And I’m fine with fines.
I’m just not so sure we have to view it all in terms of a “war,” and I question whether all the high tech weapons being seized upon — like hidden cameras, and sending dog poop to laboratories to see if its DNA can be matched to a particular dog — are a bit of an over-reaction, better used on terrorists than people who don’t pick up dog poop.
I have a problem with public “shaming,” too — whether it’s being used on deadbeat dads, the customers of prostitutes, or those who fail to pick up dog waste. It reminds me of those stocks and pillories we used to punish wrongdoers in colonial times. I’d like to think we’ve become a little more civilized since then. And I’d like to think we’re smart enough to realize people who engage in shameful behavior often don’t have a huge sense of shame in the first place.
Most of all I’m puzzled about how we let something with such a simple solution become so huge, and gobble up so much time, money and technology. How much is being wasted sending dog waste through the mail for analysis in laboratories? How many hours did Weissman spend watching video to pinpoint the culprit who pooped in front of his house?
Sometimes I think our species is prone to escalating anything that can possibly escalated.
Perhaps a psychologist could explain that to me.
In the meantime, can’t we all just pick it up?
Posted by John Woestendiek August 13th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, association, block, brooklyn, cameras, cams, dna, dog, dog walker, dog walkers hall of shame, dogs, dogwalker, dropcam, escalation, facebook, fight, fort greene, hall of shame, humiliation, law, new york, pets, poop, pooping, public, responsibility, scoop, scooper, security, shamed, shaming, shit, sidewalk, solutions, south oxford street, technology, testing, war, waste
Believe it or not, the poster of this video is a dog trainer — though, if you’ve got an infant in the house, you might not want him to teach your dog this particular trick.
Alex Garcia, a dog trainer based in Brooklyn, jokingly says he posted this video on YouTube “in part to discourage friends from asking me to baby-sit.”
According to his website, CivilPet.com, he works with dogs, cats, and companion parrots, providing dog training, dog walking, and pet sitting services.
The website contains videos of several “useless dog tricks” he has taught his dog, Raja.
He also writes a blog, and did an entire entry that features step-by-step directions on how to teach your dog to put a baby (or at least a baby doll) into the oven:
“Step 2: Use shaping to get her to put the (toy) baby in the oven. Hold the baby in the position you want it to land, click your dog for investigating it, then grabbing it. When she grabs it, click and shove food in her face so she’ll drop it in the same position. She should hold the baby, you click, she drops it, then gets fed, then withhold the click until she drops it, then click. Gradually, start with the baby further away from the point in which you want the dog to drop it, then you’ll eventually be able to put the baby on the floor …”
In a disclaimer at the end, he writes: “This is not an actual How-To guide; I’m just going over what I went through to train this for anyone who is curious. If you attempt to train this to your dog, you’re doing so at your own risk. I am not responsible if: your dog opens or closes the oven while you’re cooking; your dog puts an actual baby in the oven; you get bit trying this with your resource guarding pet; your oven breaks somehow; anything bad happens.”
We’re guessing Garcia isn’t so quick to shirk responsibility when he’s on the job; otherwise his repeat customers would be few. As he sees it, he’s just making training a little more fun through his useless pet tricks.
“Training provides great mental stimulation, even when the behaviors themselves have no practical application in the real world,” he says.
Other videos on his website are somewhat cuter and not quite so worrisome, including this one entitled “The Police are Coming.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2013 under videos.
Tags: alex garcia, animals, baby, baby in the oven, brooklyn, civilpets, dog trainer, dogs, doll, infant, instructions, new york, oven, pets, raja, raja takes care of the baby, really stupid pet tricks, responsbility, stupid pet tricks, take care of the baby, video, youtube
After decades of delays, New York City and state officials opened part of Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Monday, making available a portion of what may one day be a self-sustaining, multi-use, 1.7-mile-long green space.
But the newly opened area has no space for dogs.
The Pier 1 greenspace won’t be wholly usable until mid-April, when the new lawn — which accounts for almost half of the six-acre pier — is strong enough to open to the public. According to the New York Post, picnics and Frisbee will be allowed on the grass next month, but dogs — even those on leashes — will be banned permanently from the section of park.
Despite city zoning rules that allow leashed dogs at all parks before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m., the new city-state park has established special rules to bar canines from the sitting area at all times.
“There will be no dogs, no chairs and no big soccer games on the lawn,” said Jeff Sandgrund, director of operations for the park. “It’s a passive lawn — people can use it within reason.”
“Passive lawn?” Poop on that, some dog lovers say.
“Leashed dogs only allowed on the concrete? How about giving us 10 feet of grass along the border where we can picnic with our dogs, or watch the boats sail by?”complained Bob Ipcar, president of FIDO, a Prospect Park-based dog advocacy group.
Mayor Bloomberg allocated $55 million in city money, on top of the city’s $139-million share of the $350-million cost to build along all six of the waterfront piers. But who will bear the cost of maintenance — estimated at a whopping $16 million per year — is is still being figured out, the Post reported.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 23rd, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: banned, barred, bob ipcar, brooklyn, brooklyn bridge park, city, dogs, fido, green space, jeff sandgrund, new york, new york city, news, no dogs, not allowed, opening, opens, parks, passive lawn, pier 1, recreation, state
Residents who have snuck dogs into a no-dogs-allowed Brooklyn housing co-op are being told to get rid of their dogs, or face monthly $100 fines and the loss of their parking spaces.
The co-op board notified residents of Trump Village of the new enforcement policy in a notice last month.
“I think it’s totally ridiculous,” Marylyn Langsdorf, 66, who lives with her 6-pound Yorkshire terrier, Chelsea, told the New York Daily News. “I think the whole point is to just get money from us.”
Langsdorf and other residents with dogs have already been fined, but they’ve yet to have their parking spaces revoked.
About 1,700 residents live in the three-building complex, and a dozen already have contacted a Manhattan attorney who specializes in pet-related tenant rights.
“It’s a way to extract money from these folks and scare the hell out of them to give up dogs they’ve had for years,” said attorney Maddy Tarnofsky.
Warren Hirsch, a spokesman for the Trump Village co-op board, said “a small number of residents have surreptitiously smuggled in dogs in defiance of the rules and regulations binding them. They have thumbed their noses at their fellow cooperators and dared the co-op to do something about it.”
(Photo: Langsdorf, left, with Chelsea, and another dog-owning resident; New York Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brooklyn, co-op, dogs, enforcement, fines, forbidden, housing, new york city, news, no dogs allowed, not allowed, parking, parking spaces, pets, residents, revoking, rules, trump village
Sugar has been missing more than five days now, and it’s looking more like her Brooklyn family’s initial suspicions are correct — that the French bulldog, basset hound mix is being held for ransom.
Drucie Belman’s dog ran off into the snow in Prospect Park Wednesday. About five hours later, a stranger called the number listed on the dog’s collar, and seemed to be demanding payment.
When the stranger asked how much she would give him for the dog, Belman offered $50. The caller hung up, and his callback number was blocked. Another call came yesterday morning. “Good luck with your dog,” was all they said.
“It looks like someone has Sugar and they’re just trying to get money from us,” said Albert Belman.
The family rescued Sugar from a shelter in Hong Kong before moving to Brooklyn, and she had never seen snow before. When a snow day off from school was declared Wednesday, Belman and her two sons — 10-year-old Henry and 7-year-old Leo — took Sugar to the park.
The boys say the dog was so excited by the sight of snow that she pulled free and took off. The Belmans gace chase, then followed her tracks in the snow, but couldn’t find her.
Sugar was wearing tags and has a microchip.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: albert belman, animals, basset hound, brooklyn, crime, demand, dog, dogs, drucie belman, french bulldog, kidnap, lost, missing, mix, money, new york, park slope, pet, pets, ransom, sugar, video