Another pet owner says doggy day care neglected dog

Another pet owner says doggy day care neglected dog

By Fox 4 News Staff. CREATED Jun 22, 2012 - UPDATED: Jun 22, 2012

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Fox 4 is getting more complaints about a Cape Coral doggy day care after a puppy drowned on their watch Wednesday.

In a commercial Pet Coral makes a pretty big claim calling their facility "the greatest doggy day care of all time."

But real estate agent Janie Nelson says on May 8 they almost lost her dog Captain Jack.

“When I went back to get him I went into the place and asked them how it went," said Nelson. "And they said 'just fine we'll go get your dog.'"

But the dog they brought back wasn't Jack. Nelson says it was a different color and breed from her all white Maltese.

“I said what are you doing this isn't my dog?,” said Nelson.  

“How did they respond?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

“Again, nonchalant," said Nelson. "[They said] 'oh OK, well come back here and find him for us,'” she recalled.

When staff couldn't find Jack, Nelson says they became "frantic" until she noticed Jack alone outside in a fenced area.

“In plain view, but pretty far away from the building," said Nelson.

“So they just forgot about him?," asked Grant.

“Yeah they didn't do a head count that's for sure," said Nelson. "So he could have been out there quite a while.” 

Questions raised

This latest incident raises questions about how closely supervisors are keeping track of the dogs.

On Wednesday, Alda Saul's 3-pound puppy Callie drowned in the pool at Pet Coral. Supervisors in charge of watching the pool didn't notice until it was too late.

“If they had been watching the animals she would not be dead," said Saul's daughter Janet LeBeouf Wednesday.

“You hold them responsible?," asked Grant.

“I do," said LeBeouf.

Fox 4 asked the manager Wednesday how something like this could happen but he didn't have an answer.

“I don't know," said Pet Coral manager Terry Converse. "We can't armchair quarterback.” 

The owner, Lorena Rapoport, said she wasn't aware of Nelson's complaint. 

"You just want to focus on the bad things that are happening," said Rapoport Thursday before hanging up the phone. 

Changes being made

The attorney for Pet Coral is finally speaking out. In an email we're told the facility has more than two dozen 24-hour surveillance cameras that are being looked at.

  • Any employees found responsible will be disciplined or fired.
  • Pet Coral will now have a lifeguard chair and a staff member watching from it anytime the pool is in use.
  • Their 32 surveillance tapes are being reviewed.
  • They will review Nelson's latest complaint.

But Nelson still has concerns.

“These little guys are our family and they need to be very protective of them," said Nelson. "And they obviously aren't.” 

"It is unfortunate that this incident ,which is still under investigation by management, has raised concern about the resort," said lawyer John Brugger. "But management will use this incident to improve and enhance the animal care it provides."

See their response to our questions below.

From: Forsyth & Brugger, P.A.
Date: Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 5:52 PM
Subject: Response to Questions

Mr. Grant, Before I provide specific answers to your questions it is important for you to know that PetCoral Resort has 32 video cameras that record activities at the resort 24 hours each day and all events are recorded and available for review.
1. Why on May 8, 2012 did employees give customer Janie Nelson the wrong dog back?
2. Why did they leave her dog, Captain Jack, alone outside unsupervised when the other dogs were back in side? How did they "forget" about her?

To the best of my knowledge management was not aware of this allegation and will proceed to review the matter but please note that the records at Pet Coral show that commencing on June 14, 2012, approximately 5 weeks after the alleged incident, Janie Nelson boarded two of her dogs, Captain Jack and Penny, Pet Coral for a period of 4 successive days. The alleged incident on May 8th will be investigated further but it cannot be accomplished on such short notice.
I personally question how unhappy this client could be if she boarded 2 of her dogs at Pet Coral Resort for 4 days after the alleged incident.

3. How closely are the dogs at Pet Coral watched?

All animals are watched by staff and video camera at all times.

4. How many dogs were in the pool on Wed June 20, 2012, when Callie drowned?

On Wednesday, June 20, three (3) staff members, were were in charge of supervision of 3 separate groups of dogs with each staff member supervising 4 to 5 dogs. The groups are rotated between the pool, exercise and play areas. The concept is to permit the dogs to socialize and play with each other in multiple settings while under supervision.
The group to which Callie was assigned consisted of four (4) dogs. Records are maintained as to the staff member to whom each dog is assigned and video tapes are maintained. Pet Coral is currently reviewing the incident and appropriate action will be taken against the responsible employee or employees, including possible termination.
5. How many employees were watching the pool at the time?
6. How did staff not notice Callie was drowning or under water if they were watching the pool?

The relevant documents and video records are being segregated and Pet Coral has asked legal counsel to assist in reviewing the resort documents and video records to determine employee responsibility. Time will be required to review the multiple video records involved in order to isolate the applicable video recordings.

7. Why isn't there staff inside the pool as well as outside watching the dogs?
The intent of the grouping of dogs is to permit them to play with other dogs to enhance their ability to reasonably interact with other animals. If a person is standing in the pool with them most of the dogs want to play with that person rather than the other dogs. The pool is only two (2) feet deep and experience has shown that the presence of a person in the pool greatly interferes with the dogs playing with each other. Socializing with other dogs is one of the main reasons their owners leave their pets at Pet Coral Resort.
8. Will any policies change as a result of what happened? If so, what?
As a result of this incident there will be a Life Guard (Chair and Human Guard) stationed at the pool at all times it is in use, just like a human life guard situation. Just as at a pool for humans, guidelines will require that the guard be present at all times dogs are permitted in the pool.
Pet Coral Resort & Veterinary Clinic is a state-of-the-art facility that provides a safe, clean and fun-filled environment for animals with a professionally trained staff providing boarding, day care, grooming, and veterinary services at competitive rates. The Resort provides separate  climate controlled kennels for each boarded animal, under constant video surveillance. 
It is unfortunate that this incident, which is still under investigation by management, has raised concern about the Resort but management will use this incident to improve and enhance the animal care it provides.

John N. Brugger, Esq.

Matt Grant