Woman charged with felony animal cruelty after two dogs die in her care

Pet owner used 'Rover' to find pet sitter

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

The New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon, said Monday, the home was found in squalor — animals seized included rabbits– turtles and other dogs.

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

According to documents provided by the NHSO, the animals were housed in a resident that exceeded 79 degrees, with no fans.

On April 18th,  a pet owner dropped her two German shepherds, Nala and Jager off at a private pet sitter she found on the 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 was found dead in a crate.

Rodriguez then told the owner she’d be taking the other dog, Jager, to the emergency clinic because he wasn’t eating and seemed weak, according to NHSO.

The dogs’ owner headed to the clinic, where a veterinary  technician attempted to save Jager, however, the dog was later pronounced dead.

According to McMahon, deputies obtained a warrant to search Rodriguez’s home on May 20, and what they found was alarming.

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

A chihuahua was discovered in a cat crate so small, it couldn’t stand, that dog was returned to its owner, according to McMahon.

Dog owner Benjamin Baker said he’s not surprised with these type apps – someone always gets through.

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

WWAY reached out to 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 these concerns.

“We removed the sitter from the Rover platform, and we remain ready and willing to work with law enforcement should they reach out.

“We’re 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 reviewed stays receiving 5 stars.”

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

“Pets are our family, always check references, ask around before you leave them in someone else’s care,” said McMahon. “We will not tolerate this type of behavior towards animals.”

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