How we stopped a theft by my dog slum boss

by Sam

This guy Bob (not his real name) was running a doggy daycare business. He was going on a trip and wanted someone to take over while he was gone. I like dogs, and I was fairly broke while I was finishing up my degree, so I took the job.

I was supposed to come at 7am, so I got there at 7am. There was a couple already waiting in their car when I arrived. Apparently they normally got there earlier, which I hadn’t been told. So, I helped them get their dogs in, and they rushed off to their job. Bob hadn’t left any instructions. There were dishes piled in the sink, and a container of bleach on the ground where the dogs were. The place was a mess.

Obviously, I got the bleach up from the floor and I did the dishes etc. I ended up watching about 20 dogs in this small space. It was a single family home with a basement and a yard that the dogs had access to. Bob had a fence that prevented the dogs from coming into the living room and that’s basically it. The yard was filled with dog poop. I quickly learned that the fence was also unsecure, because a small dog escaped on my first day. This dog was a regular and Bob seemed unsurprised and unbothered that the dog got out. At this point, I realized that this may have happened before. Basically, the place hadn’t been cleaned much, the dogs seemed to be unsafe, and it was not the best situation.

Customers were coming all the time and I had no idea when things were happening, so it didn’t feel like I could ever leave. Some of the dogs weren’t picked up until 8 or even 9 pm. A few stayed overnight. Bob told me that I didn’t have to stay overnight, but he didn’t tell the owners that. Some made it clear it was expected, so I stayed over most nights. I was uncompensated for that time, but it did make me feel better not to lie.

I did this for five days. On the fifth day, I had someone dropping off a dog in the morning, and they told me that the dog might be in heat, so I should watch for any weird behavior from the other dogs. They gave me their number. They seemed really nervous about it, and I was really nervous about it too. So, the whole entire day I was watching this dog. There were definitely male dogs following this female dog around. Later in the day, when some other people came to pick up their dogs, I learned that some of these male dogs weren’t neutered.

When the female dog’s owner came back to pick up their dog, I explained the situation. After that, they decided to work from home for a while, while their dog was in heat, instead of using the doggy daycare.

When Bob heard that I had been honest with the customer, and that the customer had canceled their booking, he was not pleased. He said I should “just go with the flow” in these situations, because “all you have to do is separate them.” I told him that the way the house was set up, it was impossible to see all the dogs at once, and it would have been compromising my ethics not to be open with the dog owner about the situation. Bob disagreed. He texted, “You shouldn’t be concerned about other people’s animals.” This was surreal coming from a doggy daycare owner.

Then, Bob said something like, if you don’t like the situation you’re dealing with here, then leave. So I was like, alright, awesome. I quit.

Bob paid me for my time up to that point. And then he was like, “oh wait, it would be really cool if you could stay here until tonight so that then my friend can take over. And send me a picture when you leave.” After I sent the picture, he said he’d pay me for that extra time. I didn’t want the dogs to be left alone, so I said okay, sure. I stayed there until that night, then I sent him a picture of me doing a peace sign in front of his house.

The next day I wake up, and he still hasn’t paid me for that extra time. So I was like, “Hey, what’s up? Are you going to pay me for that time?”

His response: “You aren’t getting anything.” At that point I was pretty pissed off.
I was volunteering for SeaSol at the time, so at the following Monday meeting, I told everyone what happened. After explaining the situation, everyone voted to take on the fight. I was super grateful that people wanted to support. At that point, we started strategizing what to do and putting the word out for our first action.

For our action, we all met at a park near Bob’s house, where we distributed a bunch of signs. I think there were about 30 people there. It was really high energy, everyone was excited. At that point, I had been to a few SeaSol actions, but I hadn’t had the experience of solidarity being for me. If I think too hard about it, I tear up– it’s a pretty cool experience. My friends were there, everyone was smiling, and we all marched to his house.

With our fights, there are the smaller actions that happen at the beginning and then they’re escalated. This first action was smaller. It was just meant to be like, hey, we’re here, and this demand letter states something you need to accomplish if you want us to not come here again.

Bob was outside, struggling to start his chainsaw when we arrived. Two SeaSolers had volunteered to deliver the demand letter. They went up to him and asked, “Hey, are you Bob?” And he was like, “Who’s Bob?” I shouted that he was indeed Bob, and he was trying to avoid taking the letter. He kept on avoiding it, so they ended up taping it to the door. The letter gave him two weeks to pay.

We all went back to our meeting spot to debrief, which is something we do after every action. The vibe was celebratory. After our recap and words of encouragement, we all went our separate ways.

Bob emailed SeaSol pretty quickly saying he was consulting a lawyer and planning to sue us. He thought he was going to scare us.

In the end, I got paid in two weeks- exactly at the deadline. So everything turned out really well. But yeah, it was just probably the weirdest thing that’s happened to me recently.

A lot of us have to deal with bosses every day, and some of them are way crazier than others. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. But it’s nice to have the support.
Solidarity forever!

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