How an App Glitch Left Pets Without Food

July 29, 2016, 6:22 PM UTC
Jack Russell Puppies, Oxfordshire, UK
Photograph by Tim Graham — Getty Images

A few furry friends might’ve been left without meals when a recent server outage appeared to cause PetNet, an automated pet feeder, to malfunction.

PetNet is an “intelligent pet feeder,” a $149 device that works to set up feeding schedules for pets, and can be remotely controlled from an app. In theory, the program works to leave pet owners assured that their animal gets fed even if they are away.

In an email posted to Twitter, the company said that its service was, “experiencing some difficulty with one of our third party servers. This is currently being investigated.”

The email also encouraged pet owners to feed their pets manually until the glitch was resolved, leaving some pet owners, like Taryn Studer, in a panic.

Studer, who owns a cat, told The Guardian that, “most are unaware as their emails go to spam or are filtered and we didn’t receive alerts on our phone that the auto feed was down.”


She continued: “This has sent me into a panic as I am a college student with multiple jobs and rely on this device to make sure he receives proper feedings and nutrition,” Studer said. “I have had to arrange for friends to get keys from me at work if needed so he will get his food.”

When she reached out to customer service, Studer described their response as “completely dismissive and unapologetic”, saying that their phone line went unanswered and her emails have either been ignored or replied to with a generic response.

The company’s request to manually feed pets also caused anger – at the height of vacation season – because many PetNet users rely on it when they leave their animals alone for days at a time and might be unable to return to feed them.

According to The Guardian, the glitch only affected 10% of PetNet users. The company posted a tweet later on Wednesday informing users that all systems were back online, but that it would, “monitor the systems closely over the next few days.”

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