Dog Walker Charged With Stealing Jewelry — How Can You Tell the Good Ones From the Bad?

A former dog walker in the San Francisco area has been charged with stealing $5,500 worth of jewelry from his clients in the two months...
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A former dog walker in the San Francisco area has been charged with stealing $5,500 worth of jewelry from his clients in the two months he was walking their dogs in fall of 2009. He is scheduled to appear in court today.

Prosecutors say Nicolas Barbanica, 32, was given keys to homes in San Mateo, and stole jewelry on multiple occasions. He remains in jail on $500,000 bail, reports the San Francisco Examiner.

This brings up a question that has been on my mind for a while. How do you know who’s honest in the dog-walking business these days? Many companies are bonded and insured, but even reliable companies with upstanding proprietors can’t always necessarily hire people who are completely trustworthy, try as they may.

And I think some try harder than others to make sure they hire good people. Dog-walking companies around here often put out ads on Craigslist looking for dog walkers. It’s a pretty general mosh pit, but many companies probably have very good screening methods. I’ve seen several that do criminal background checks. But what about those not-so-savory dog walkers who slip through the cracks because they haven’t had any priors? Or people who have their own small dog-walking business? How can you be extra safe and make sure that your dog gets a good walk and your jewelry and computers don’t?

Here’s an odd case: A woman I met at a dog event in San Francisco told me she was sure that her dog walker had been poking around her underwear drawer. Her jewelry was untouched, but her underthings were often out of place on dog-walking days, she said. She was about to blow the whistle, but I think she was trying to line up a nanny cam. How weird is that, if she was right?

If any dog walkers reading this have suggestions on what to look for in a trustworthy company or dog walker, please leave a comment. Likewise, of course, anyone who uses dog walkers. I imagine that one key is to know the person who is walking your dog, or be sure to get great recommendations. I realize the huge majority of dog walkers are good, honest folks. This is not meant to be an alarmist post, but one that helps educate readers. Letting someone have the key to your home entails a huge act of trust. We just want to make sure Dogster readers’ keys go into the right hands, and not to sticky fingers.

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