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West Hollywood family sues pet-sitting service after their dog drowns

West Hollywood family sues pet-sitting service after their dog drowns
West Hollywood family sues pet-sitting service after their dog drowns 03:43

A family in West Hollywood filed a lawsuit against a pet-sitting service after their dog drowned in their pool while they were on vacation. 

"When I left here, she was not dying," owner Rebecca Duke said. "It never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that she wouldn't be here. I would have never have gone."

Duke said a weekend trip to San Diego last November turned into her worst nightmare after she left her 16-year-old mini schnauzer, Queenie, with someone she thought was a vetted pet sitter. 

"I feel robbed," Duke said. 

Duke said neighbors recommended Trust Housesitters to care for her pets. The website says it connects pet owners with reviewed and verified sitters. After interviewing multiple candidates, Duke said the family chose one they felt was the best fit. 

"I gave [the sitter] very specific instructions not to let Queenie out in the dark at night, especially at night, but not to let her in the back garden where we have a swimming pool," Duke said. 

Two days into her trip, Duke said the sitter called her. 

"She was hysterical and she said Queenie had fallen in the pool," Duke said. 

Security camera video shows Queenie coming outside and then swimming in circles in the pool. At one point, she's even on the steps, perhaps trying to get out, but to no avail. At some point, Queenie stops swimming before a woman runs out of the house and begins to perform CPR. 

Duke said the sitter admitted to letting Queenie out of the house. She filed the lawsuit against Trusted Housesitters on Thursday, accusing the company of negligence and breach of contract. 

"You are providing a service, so you need to take responsibility when that service does not go right," attorney Camron Dowlatshahi said. 

While nothing will bring Queenie back, Duke said what makes her death even more painful is that it was preventable. 

"I feel like I almost have a moral obligation to get the word out," she said. "Frankly, I don't want anyone else to go through the pain that we have been through as a family."

A Trusted Housesitters spokesperson said the company was "heartbroken" and "deeply sorry" for Queenie's death. 

"Our deepest condolences and full support is with Mr Leaman and his family. At Trusted Housesitters the safety of pets is our top priority, and we are committed to supporting both Queenie's family and the pet sitter during this difficult time," the spokesperson said. "Our thoughts are with everyone touched by this tragic accident. We will continue to provide support to our members as we work towards finding a resolution."

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