Woman charged with animal cruelty after two dogs in her care died

Pet owner used ‘Rover’ to find pet sitter

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWYA) – A woman who runs a dog walking and animal care business is facing animal cruelty charges after two dogs in her care died.

New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon said Monday the home was found in unsanitary conditions – animals seized included rabbits – turtles and other dogs.

“What we found was horrible, extreme temperatures, just horrible,” McMahon said.

On April 18, a pet owner dropped off her two German Shepherd dogs, Nala and Jager, with a private pet sitter she found on popular pet sitting and walking app “Rover.”

Six days later, the owner received a call from the pet sitter, identified as Pamela Rodriguez, who said Nala had been found dead in a crate.

Rodriguez then told the owner that she would take the other dog, Jager, to the emergency clinic because he was not eating and seemed weak, according to NHSO.

The dogs’ owner went to the clinic, where a vet tech tried to save Jager, but the dog was later pronounced dead.

According to McMahon, deputies obtained a warrant to search Rodriguez’s home, and what they found was alarming.

“Cages on top of each other with animals inside, none of them (animals), being fed or [had] water,” McMahon said. “We ended up taking 16 different animals into our care.”

Dog owner Benjamin Baker said he’s not surprised by these types of apps — someone always comes by.

“Eventually there comes a point where you have to make sure there are safeguards in place and protections in place for the user, using the app,” Baker said.

WWAY contacted the “Rover” platform, and they responded in a statement as follows.

“As pet parents ourselves, we are appalled by this incident and our hearts go out to everyone who loved Nala and Jäger.

“Our 24/7 Trust and Safety team immediately launched an investigation when we were alerted to the concerns.

“We have removed the custodian from the Rover platform, and we remain ready and willing to work with law enforcement should they contact us.

“We are committed to the trust and safety of our community, and an incident like this is heartbreaking and very rare: nearly 24,000 stays have been booked through Rover in the Wilmington area, with 98% of rated stays receiving 5 stars.”

Rodriguez was arrested and is charged with two counts of animal cruelty, according to the NHSO, with further charges expected.

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