A local woman is speaking out after her dog died at a pet boarding facility in the District.
The owners of that facility are adamant they did nothing wrong.
WUSA9’s Special Assignment Unit spoke to both sides hours after the woman filed a lawsuit.
The plaintiff asked WUSA9 not to share her name.
“Dax has been the one constant in my life and he meant the world to me,” the woman said.
According to her lawsuit filed Friday, the woman became a customer of Wagtime LLC, a pet care facility in Northwest, “a few years” ago.
When the woman moved across town, she boarded her Yorkshire Terrier, Dax, at the company’s second location, Wagtime Too, in Southeast.
“I went away on a family trip this summer,” she said. “We went to Alaska and a result of that I needed to board Dax.”
Dax never came home. Nine days after Dax arrived at Wagtime Too, the plaintiff said a puppy pinned "Dax down on his back, killing him."
The death shocked Dax's owner. Wagtime's website advertises dog boarding, cage free, with 24-hour supervision and separation by size and temperament.
“My understanding was that Dax was going to be placed in a pen with dogs his size, around his age, and that he would be supervised 24/7,” the woman said.
In her lawsuit, the woman alleges Wagtime was negligent in putting a “six (6) month old, 18 and a half pound shelter dog in the ‘elderly’ and ‘tiny’ area with Dax, a 12 year old, four and a half pound Yorkshire Terrier."
Lisa Schreiber and Ofer Khal own Wagtime LLC and Wagtime, too
We asked Schreiber about the allegation that there was some negligence involved.
“I don’t see how,” Schreiber said.
“A rescue dog named Haley was a puppy and they had been together for a week, same room, no problems, no aggression,” Schreiber said. “What happened with Dax was a very unfortunate incident, one that nobody really could have predicted.”
Neither Schreiber nor Khal disputes Dax died there, but both said a cage free environment comes with some risk.
“They are unpredictable because they are animals,”
The lawsuit says Wagtime misrepresented services, specifically that "(i) daycare zones would be divided into classes separated by dog size and temperament; and (ii) Wagtime provided a specific elderly class zone where Dax would be placed."
Chris Gowen, the woman's attorney, said Wagtime violated D.C.'s consumer protection laws.
"If a provider of a service like Wagtime makes material representations they way they did, that 'we were going to keep light dogs together,' that 'we test the dogs before they come,' that 'we have surveillance,' that 'we have constant eyes on the dogs,' then the consumer relies on that representation," he said. "And it turns out that that representation was false, that’s consumer fraud."
“We never told her that, nor do we have that here,” Schreiber said.
Wagtime's website advertises its "fully separate and secure small and elderly dog zone.”
“We have it at Wag one, we have a ‘senior’ room,” Schreiber said. “Here we do not.”
The lawsuit also alleges Wagtime failed "to state that the facility where Dax was being boarded at (Wagtime Too) was not licensed."
We searched D.C.s business database and could not find a license specifically for Wagtime Too. D.C. officials say each location of a business must have its own license.
We did find a certificate of occupancy valid through 2019.
“Of course we have a license,” Schreiber said. “Of course.”
According to the District of Columbia Department of Health, the incident should have been reported. Jasmine Gossett, a spokeswoman for DOH, said Dax's death was not reported.
Gossett called reporting a "requirement," but didn't specify who is required to report.
"We encourage the facility and the owners of both dogs to report that incident," she wrote in an email.
"I don't know anything about that," Schreiber said.
Schreiber and Khal insist their staff spends 24 hours per day inside the same room as the dogs.
“I would have to say dogs are absolutely safe here and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t be,” Schreiber said.
“It is a cage free facility and we do, like, advertise it as is, but with that, again, there is inherent risk that most people understand,” Khal said.
For Dax’s owner, the nightmarish experience is far from over.
“It's tough,” she said. “I live alone and I miss him.”
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