Life, Stories

He was more than a pet to her, killed in a boarding facility, She sued…

When you send your puppies to board, you usually fully intend to get them back and in one piece and unharmed, but for this one owner that was not the case at all. The 4.5 pound Yorkie wasn’t just someones property she was much more than that…

The little Yorkie’s owner was distraught and deeply grieving because of the death of her beloved four legged family member, perished at the upscale boarding facility when a Labrador puppy mix breed attacked it!

The lawsuit was filed by Falen LaPonzina against Wagtime Too who operates a doggy daycare center and boarding facility in Washington. It’s alleged that the company was negligent in allowing the Yorkie, Dax, to be kept with another canine four times bigger.

It’s not just the $150,000 she wants in damages, but much more than that, she seeks for the courts to acknowledge the part pets play in their owner’s lives. She tells a story of her small Yorkie, Dax, with a gentle nature, friendly and loyal to her and a constant companion, especially through her twenties and thirties.

Falen LaPonzina said: – “I had no idea when I dropped my dog off there I would never see him again” … “Yorkies live to be 18 to 20 years old. He had many good years left.”

The company being sued denied that they were negligent and Lisa Schreiber, a co-owner, said that the whole incident was a terrible unavoidable accident. She said that an employee was watching all the dogs, that when he saw the other dog attacking Dax, it was too late.

LaPonzina went to Alaska in July, leaving Dax at Wagtime, which advertises their service as a ‘cage-free’ facility and there are two places an owner can board their pets for $55 per night. LaPonzina, a 36 years old and a lawyer, regularly visited the company for boarding for Dax, first in Shaw and after in the Navy Yard, dating back to 2010.

Dax’s owner was deeply shocked when she checked her phone to see that during her week long cruise, as she got off the boat in Canada, she had messages from Wagtime to say there was an emergency and Dax was dead!

Schreiber said in an interview:

“The (18-pound) Labrador mix puppy had picked up the teacup Yorkie with its mouth then moments later the miniature dog was no longer breathing”

Wagtime says they screened the Labrador and it never showed aggressive behavior, even after the accident it was evaluated by a canine-behavior specialist, he found no signs of violence in the rescue dog. The Labrador has now been rehomed and with a woman with no children and no other dogs.

Schreiber said:

“This is not anything that anyone who works for me could have prevented” … “I do want people to understand this is a cage-free facility, and there are inherent risks here. We are not negligent here, but it is horrible that it happened.”

A partner at Schiff Hardin in San Francisco, Bruce Wagman, specializing in animal law stated that is the case would result in a six-figure settlement, for the death of an animal, it would be completely unprecedented!

So it seems unlikely, but, Wagman said:

“If someone intentionally kills a pet, it occasionally might yield a significant penalty. But for LaPonzina to receive a sizable settlement, she would have to prove that Wagtime was not just negligent but had intentionally killed Dax”

“When owners do receive significant cash settlements for the death of a pet, such as when a police officer kills a dog during a home raid, Wagman said, it is typically because the officer violated the civil rights of the homeowners, not because their pet is dead.”

“Every state, in every court everywhere, animals are considered property” … “That said, there is no question that courts are more and more appreciating that animals are not like computers. They are not vases, and they’re not books.”

It seems that this is not the first time Wagtime has come up against complaints about its care of animals or in how they operate their boarding.

Wagtime ran into trouble in 2003 and 2015 too. The most recent was when a dog walker dropped the leash of a 9-month puppy, the puppy was struck by a car. Its owner sued but they settle out of court.

LaPonzina’s lawsuit goes into considerable detail and also accuses ‘Wagtime’ of not having the correct license to operate its Navy Yard location. What bearing this will have we don’t know!

Last week the boarding facility sent letters out to customers telling them about the July death of Dax, then assuring them that their doggies are safe with ‘Wagtime’.

LaPonzina said:

“Dax was just so adorable, you couldn’t ever be mad at him — you couldn’t not love him” … “This dog has been through it all with me.”

LaPonzina said she will be going above and beyond the court system, asking for regulatory reform to tighten operating standards for dog-boarding facilities like this one and many others!

Original article –

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