Some Not So Happy Tales at Happy Tails Pet Spa – More Dog Deaths
In early January, Johnny and Gail King faced the death of their 20 month old Lhasa Apso “Bogey” at Happy Tails Pet Spa on Ebenezer Road in West Knoxville. Although the necropsy doesn’t reveal a definitive cause of death, pathologists believe Bogey’s external lesions could be consistent with overheating or lack of oxygen.
“Bogey was a very healthy, 20-month-old dog. He had no known underlying medical conditions and nothing significant as far as an underlying condition was found on his post mortem exam to have caused death,” veterinarian Dr. Kristy Lively, who saw Bogey the day of his death, says.
“I do have an opinion from another pathologist who says the most likely causes based on the external lesions are overheating or inadequate ventilation,” Dr. Lively says.
Not surprisingly, Happy Tails co-owner Erik Webb denies any wrongdoing on the part of the business and released the following statement;
“We, at Happy Tails are of course devastated when an animal in our care is hurt. Unfortunately, in the animal business accidents can and do happen everywhere.
We strive daily to ensure the care and safety of all of the animals entrusted to us. We cannot offer an apology big enough to any client who has had their pets hurt in any way.
The Webb family has taken care of animals for over 40 years and would not do what we did without the love we have for them.
We try to build and keep a reputation that our family will be proud of.
And we would like to thank the overwhelming number of clients, family and friends for their support and prayers during this very difficult time.”
Since the original story, the number of complaints against Happy Tails at the Better Business Bureau, where they already had an unsatisfactory record, has risen from four to seven.
As well, other unhappy tales have surfaced including deaths of other dogs.
Family loses two dogs at same groomer
Debby Cash says on July 15, 2005, her husband took their four-year old Bichon Frise, “Lola,” to Happy Tails for grooming.
And the couple claims when the owner handed Lola back to them, “Her eyes and her tongue had just been cooked and I mean her eyes…the corneas were completely dry. Her skin, the vet could take the fur and it would just come off.”
The couple immediately took the dog to their vet, Dr. Lentz, and also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
“The vet said, ‘Debby, we don’t need to do an autopsy because it’s very visible what happened to her. She died of heat stroke and heat exhaustion,'” Debby says.
In a letter, Dr. Lentz concluded Lola had severe external lesions, consistent with acute heat stroke. A pattern left on Lola’s skin resembles what’s called a groomer’s grate.
The owners of Happy Tails tell 6 News they acknowledge what happened was a mistake. They say a timer on a cage dryer got stuck and continued to heat while Lola was in it. The manager on-duty wasn’t around. They say he was later fired and Happy Tails no longer uses cage dryers.
But Lola wasn’t the only one one of the Cash’s dogs to die at Happy Tails. Ten months earlier, they say their other Bichon, “Sophie,” also died there.
At the time, the couple thought Sophie died because of old age and they continued doing business at Happy Tails. The owners of Happy Tails deny having anything to do with her death.
Woman’s dog dies, body disposed of
In January 2005, Rosemary Ministeri says she was told her two-year old American Staffordshire, “Brinnie,” died at Happy Tails.
Rosemary recalls the conversation she says she had on the phone with Happy Tails co-owner Erik Webb while she was in Florida.
“I said, Erik, what’s the problem? He said, ‘Well Brinnie, is no longer with us.’ And I said, excuse me? Brinnie is no longer with you? Where is she? ‘Well, she’s in my father’s freezer.’ I said, excuse me?”
“She died on the night of 13th or 14th before I got on the plane. They found her dead. They never told me and their reasoning was according to the owner, Erik, they didn’t want to ruin the birth of a joyous occasion, my granddaughter, by calling to tell me my dog was dead,” Rosemary adds.
When Rosemary returned from Florida, she went to pick up Brinnie’s body and got another shock.
“When I came to claim her body, they said, ‘Well it’s been disposed of.’ I said, excuse me? ‘Well, we couldn’t keep a dog that big in my father’s freezer,'” Rosemary says. “I was told his father was a vet and the body had been cremated or burned.”
Happy Tails denies any wrong doing.
But all the pet owners who spoke to 6 News for this report say, no matter how long it’s been since their dogs died, the pain never goes away.
All the owners in this report are in the process of taking some type of legal action against Happy Tails. (WATE)
Happy Tails does have it proponents as well; happy, satisfied customers but from my point of view, these are not small problems in any way, shape or form. These are deaths and I think Happy Tails bears some serious looking into. I know that I would never take my babies to a place that has this kind of record!
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