Back when vacations were still common practice, it often made sense to ask a neighbor to check in with your home.
If you had pets, it was even more important. While more and more places are offering dog-friendly accommodations, sometimes you just don’t have the energy or ability to bring your pets along. And if you’re traveling internationally, it could be more of a pain than anything else. In June of 2019, a man agreed to watch his neighbor’s home.
According to the man, who posted his predicament on Reddit, his neighbors were visiting family overseas. “They asked me and my wife if we would look after their pets, and their house for the next 3 weeks, as they needed to return to Taiwan as his mother was dying,” he wrote.
“They even left me $500 dollars for food for their 2 German [shepherds], and their cat.”
On July 1, he got an email. His neighbors needed some extra time to get their affairs in order. They asked if the original poster (OP) and his wife would mind watching the animals for a little longer. “He apologized and said he would be back by July 15th at latest,” he wrote.
But then, that never happened. On July 21, the OP sent an email because they still weren’t home, and he didn’t get a reply. At the end of the month, his neighbor’s phone had been disconnected. They straight up vanished. But the OP was still in charge of the neighbor’s pets. And their house in general.
“I don’t know what happened to them, but they just never came back,” he wrote. “I don’t know if they ended up in some sort of prison, or decided to just not come home at all.” With the neglect, the neighbor realized a pipe had burst in their home. He had no clue what to do next.
Suddenly, this arrangement was becoming much more complicated than the man could have imagined. It was costing him a lot of money. “I paid [to] have the leak fixed, and I spent all of today using my shop vac to drain their basement to the best of my abilities,” he said. “Between this and one of their dogs needing surgery I have spent several thousand dollars of my own money, and frankly the damage to the basement was pretty awful.”
But it’s also a situation that seems unreal. How much longer would this last? What was he responsible for, if anything? “On top of this his two giant German [shepherds] while they are amazingly good boys, it is becoming almost too much for us to handle,” he said. “Their last name is extremely common, and their Facebook profiles are private. Which gives me very little avenue to tackle this down.”
Sometimes, when a problem seems too big to handle, we as people tend to push it off. And perhaps that’s why the man waited a full year to ask about what his next steps should be. Maybe he was afraid to face a conclusion he mentally couldn’t handle. What if the couple had died?
The electricity was still running in the house, which the man credited to an autopayment. The internet was also still working. Someone suggested that he contact the husband’s place of employment, but they didn’t seem to know which company he worked for. “I am unsure where exactly the husband worked, I know he said he was an engineer, however, I cannot find his linked in profile, so I don’t know what company,” he explained.
Most of us would classify this as a nightmare situation. Suddenly, you’re responsible for an entire household when you only agreed to three weeks of pet sitting. The man’s whole life was turned upside down based on all of this. So he did what everyone suggested — he reported them missing.
Most of the Redditors agreed that this has gone too far, and that the man should be contacting the police. It’s clear by now that they wouldn’t be answering emails or calling back. After a year, you’d assume they wouldn’t be the ones calling him for an update.
“Report them missing,” user thehauntedpianosong said. “The house is not your responsibility. I would call animal services if you don’t want to adopt the dogs yourself.” Plus, the man already has two dogs of his own, so taking care of four dogs seems like a lot to handle.
“I will be honest, I love his dogs,” he said. “However they are two massive German [shepherds] who were never trained. They are extremely high maintenance animals.” He also added that his own two dogs don’t seem to get along with them very well.
Eventually, the man took action and posted an update for those who were interested in learning what actually happened to the neighbors. The good news is, it’s nothing terrible. The bad news is, it seems like they might not be very responsible people.
“Good news, I followed everyone’s advice reached out to the police and the embassy. Explained the situation, and gave them a bunch of information,” he said in a follow-up post. “Tonight I got a phone call from them, explaining they just decided to stay much much longer and spend time with family/friends. They apparently asked his wife’s brother to come and collect the animals and get the key a long time ago back in August but never followed up on it.”
But at least he got an apology. “He apologized and said he was sorry, he gave me two options, and asked if i wanted to keep his pets since i have had them for so long, or he will push his step brother to get the animals. Apparently the animals don’t really mean anything to him or his wife.” That sentiment really hit the man — and likely any other animal lover out there — pretty hard.
Those poor dogs had no idea that they’d never see their owners again. And they were probably confused just like the man. Responsible pet owners always make sure that their dogs are in good hands. Surely by that point, they would have known that they weren’t in the care of a relative. And even so, it would have been nice to go over the plan with man.
“He apparently can no longer access his email, and passed me along a new email address/phone number I can use to contact him,” he wrote. “But told me he doesn’t have plans to return to Canada anytime soon. I mentioned the water damage, and he just said they can buy a new house or get it fixed when they get back.” It seems like a strange and privileged response, but at least the man got closure.
And now, for the dogs. “Me and my wife are going to keep the pets simply because, well, I don’t think either of us can part with the dogs and his cat at this point,” he said. It may be the strangest backstory of all time, but at least the pets are in good hands. But let this be a warning to anyone the next time you’re asked to pet-sit. Get all the details before saying yes.