WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida pet sitter is facing serious charges after a dog in her care died and others were found in poor shape, triggering calls for accountability from the animals’ owners.
Sunny Isles Beach Police on Thursday confirmed they arrested Antonella Rivoir. She is facing charges of inflicting unnecessary pain and death on a dog.
The 20-year-old was once listed on Rover.com, and that’s where Sunny Isles Beach resident Patricia Gutierrez said she found the suspect.
Speaking with 7News on Thursday, Gutierrez did not mince words.
“I wanted her to pay for this, I wanted her to go to jail for committing – I mean, she murdered my dog,” she said. “I cry every single day.”
Gutierrez said she was in need of a sitter for her nearly month-long trip out of the country for her five dogs and one cat. She turned to the dog-sitting site Rover and ultimately hired Rivoir outside of the app.
“She seemed the best one because she was always answering the phone, she was always on it, she was always right,” said Gutierrez. “That’s what we thought.”
Weeks went by. Gutierrez said she checked on her pups on surveillance camera and by phone. She said she installed surveillance cameras in the common areas of her home with the pet sitter’s knowledge.
“[The sitter] said, ‘Everything is great, it’s fantastic, the dogs are great,'” said Gutierrez.
That is, Gutierrez said, until a house cleaner came to prepare the home for her return home.
A police report states, “She noticed dog urine and feces all over the floor and furniture.”
Alarmed, the house cleaner called Gutierrez.
“She said, ‘The dogs are just laying around, they didn’t even come to greet me, and I also don’t see Lucy and Daisy at all,'” said Gutierrez.
Gutierrez said she learned of the agony her pets went through.
“They were starved. [The sitter] fed them once every three to four days initially, and then never fed them again from [September] 16 on,” she said, “so the dogs were without food for 10 days.”
The surveillance video showed the dogs acting dazed and struggling to move. One of them was seen stumbling to its bed.
Daisy and Lucy were rushed to a vet, but for Daisy, it was too late. She passed away.
Gutierrez recalled confronting the sitter as the house cleaner rushed the pets to the vet.
“I said — this is all on speakerphone — ‘You didn’t feed them. I mean, they lost almost half their body weight. Did you knot feed them?'” said Gutierrez. “And she’s like. ‘Well, I was just so tired of it, and they were pooping and peeing everywhere, and so, I didn’t want them to poop or pee anymore, so I did feed them, but once every three or four days.’ And that was true, till [Sept] 16.”
The police report states the vet said the animals were “underweight and dehydrated … no fluid in the dogs.”
“I never asked, ‘Did you not feed them or give them water?’ I never imagined it would be that, ever,” said Gutierrez. “The vet told us, had my cleaning lady come 12 hours later, Lucy would also be dead.”
Police arrested Rivoir on Thursday. She has since posted bond.
The dog-sitting app Rover issued a statement. It reads in part, “We extend our sincere condolences. Although this stay was not booked through the Rover platform, we take this case very seriously. Our 24/7 Trust and Safety team launched a thorough investigation and we have removed the sitter from our community.”
Gutierrez said she and her husband are so distraught over this, they are moving out of the area.
She has set up a GoFundMe page in memory of Daisy, with the money raised going to the animal rescue Saving Sage Foundation. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
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