Local Tampa Dog Daycare Under Investigation Following Deaths

Photo: Lucky Dog Daycare Facebook

Lucky Dog Daycare has not been so lucky. The South Tampa dog daycare is under investigation following the deaths of two dogs from heat exhaustion within two weeks.

As reports surfaced of the two deaths other dog owners came forth claiming their dogs had been injured at the daycare as well. Will Lazenby and Sylvie Feinsmith are asking questions about the daycare too.

Lazenby told abc action news a bigger dog ripped his dog, Louis, apart while at the daycare last year. Louis was covered in gashes all over his head and under his front leg. The gashes required emergency surgery.

Feinsmith’s three-legged rescue, Vashti, got hurt last month. Surveillance video showed Vashti breaking away from an employee, sprinting down a hall and then falling to the floor. Vashti underwent two surgeries, which included repairing a herniated disk, and medical bills totaled almost $8,000.

Gayla Fradley, a former manager at Lucky Dog Daycare, told WFLA her dogs also suffered injuries while at the daycare. One dog had a deep gash on her nose close to her eye. The other had a rip on her belly by a nail. Her vet bills totaled thousands of dollars and it took Lucky Dog months to hand over the cash to pay for the bills.

Gayla Fradley’s dog’s injury while at Lucky Dog Daycare. Photo: Gayla Fradley/WFLA

Owners Jack Hamilton and Mike Hardy spoke to abc action news and said they asked for permission to talk to Feinsmith’s vet. The owners say Vashti’s medical records suggested the dog suffered from disc disease that may have played a role in her injury. On July 5, 2017 they also offered to pay for Vashti’s vet bills.

Hamilton and Hardy released the following statement to abc action news regarding Vashti’s case:

“Regarding Vashti, we carefully reviewed the video of the dog simply running and this appeared to be a medical condition rather than an injury. We were (and always have been) willing to pay regardless if this was just a medical condition, however, we did not want to pay an expensive bill and still be impugned as being at fault if it was due to a medical condition. We simply asked for a copy of the bill and permission to speak with the veterinarian. We only received the bill and report this afternoon. The report states diagnosis: type 1 intervertebral disc disease. We are therefore willing to pay the bill out of generosity assuming we are not impugned as having been at fault.”

But repayment isn’t just what these dog owners are seeking. The Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center has opened an investigation into the deaths of two dogs in the last two weeks.

Fradley says a big probelm with the daycare is that it is understaffed and the staff on hand isn’t properly trained. Over the holiday weekend Fradley says there were well over 200 dogs being boarded with only 12 employees working.

Mia Norton’s 4-year-old French Bulldog, Porscia, died of a heat stroke over the holiday weekend. The vet told Norton that Porscia’s temperature was 109 degrees when she was brought in from outside at 12:18 p.m., which is over an hour after dogs are supposed to be brought in due to Florida’s heat.

In regards to the two heat exhaustion deaths, the owners say they fired four managers for not following safety protocol. They released the following statement to abc action news about the deaths:

“Lucky Dog has operated for nearly 8 years. The facility has always operated under a stringent requirement that all dogs be brought into the air conditioned space no later than 11:00 AM during hot summer days. As a result, we had never had a heat stress related incident until 2 weeks ago. The management staff failed to adhere to that requirement which resulted in the tragic loss of an English bulldog. Based on that incident, we consulted with veterinarians and changed our policy. We then had a high intensity meeting with the management staff and implemented an absolute policy where all short nosed dogs would be limited to play only in the air conditioned large indoor yards. We also re-iterated the 11:00 AM policy for all other breeds and insisted that it was an absolute. Upon hearing of a second bulldog suffering heat stroke only two weeks later, we were completely stunned to hear that not only were both policies violated but that the management staff knowingly left the dogs out until nearly 12:15 PM.  As part of our corrective action we have fired the entire management staff and other related employees. We have also changed our summertime yard procedures to limit the outside play time to no more than 10:30 AM. With both dog owners, we admitted our responsibility. We offer no excuses for this failure and offer our most sincere apologies to the families affected.”

Lucky Dog Daycare was supposed to be hosting a fundraiser for the Humane Society tomorrow, Friday, July 7. But according to Nash McCutchen, Marketing Coordinator at Humane Society of Tampa Bay, the shelter informed Lucky Dog Daycare on Monday, July 3rd, that they no longer wished to associated with this event.

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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.