A young dog is dead and another spent days in critical condition after what the owners are saying was a case of negligence at a Chicago doggy daycare facility.
The surviving dog’s owner, who spoke to NBC Chicago on the terms of anonymity, says she dropped off her 1-year-old lab – Sully – at a pet daycare center in the city’s West Loop last month when soon after she received a terrifying call from the facility.
“[They said] Sully was being rushed to the emergency room,” she said.
The owner told NBC Chicago Sully and his best buddy, Rusty, had been regulars for about a year at Happy Trails and Tails on West Caroll Avenue, and had played there before. But now they want to warn other owners on the dangers of leaving your beloved pets in the care of others.
“She told me both dogs simultaneously collapsed,” Sully’s owner recalled of the traumatic event.
Rusty died and Sully spent five days in the hospital, a tragedy the dogs’ owners claim could have been easily avoided.
“We found out that Rusty and Sully were in crates for at least an hour and half without being attended to,” she said.
The owners say they visited upwards of eight veterinarians to try to understand what could have possibly happened, as both young dogs had a clean bill of health prior to their trip to the daycare.
“There was unanimous opinion from all of [the veterinarians] that this was a case of neglect and abuse,” she said. “This was a serious case of a heat stroke. They were dehydrated, in a poorly ventilated area. If they were in air conditioning this wouldn't have happened.
Happy Trails and Tails, on the other hand, tells a different story.
The owner of the dog daycare center at 1240 W. Carroll Ave, Angie Lopez, told NBC Chicago the two dogs were in fact pulled out of play when they became overactive, but afterward they were cooled down in air conditioned crates with access to water for no more than an hour.
“When I went to get them back out, Rusty had already passed and Sully was breathing really heavy,” Lopez said. “We tried CPR first on Rusty then rushed them immediately to the vet.”
Lopez showed NBC Chicago the facility where the dogs were cared for, which supported her claims.
“The air conditioning was right here and the cages are right there,” she highlighted of the space. “This is very upsetting to me. I’m devastated, I haven’t been able to eat or sleep.”
Lopez said that has not stopped the facility from making several additional changes to the area after the tragic occurrence, which had been in business for 14 years without incident.
“Now our procedure is if [a dog] comes in for a break, someone has to sit with them for [the entire] break,” Lopez said, adding other changes include shorter allowed playtime outside.
The dog’s owners say they just want to see that it doesn’t ever happen again.
“I want this to raise awareness for anyone watching animals in any facility,” Sully’s owner said. “It’s sad when you send your dog where they feel safe, then this happens.”