On August 22, 2012, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Animal Control received a phone call from a kennel staff member at Animal Resorts Inc., a local animal boarding facility located at 3208 Colvin Street in Alexandria, Virginia. Normally, one animal control officer responds to an incoming request for service, however, on this day, Animal Control Officer Erika Jewel and Animal Control Officer Doug Gudakunst responded together.
Navigating evening rush hour traffic from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria on Eisenhower Avenue to Animal Resorts Inc. on Colvin Street, the two Alexandria animal control officers had no indication of the extensive nightmare they were about to encounter.
Entering the dark and dank dog kennel boarding area of Animal Resorts Inc., the smell of urine and feces overpowered their senses. Animal Control Officer Jewel found the victim dog lying on the bare concrete floor in the spill and splatter of blood and excrement with its front paw pinned under a commercial kennel divider.
It is not known how long the victim dog suffered prior to dispatch.
Apparently, the gap between the floor and the bottom of the kennel divider was big enough for the attacking dog in the neighboring kennel to pull the victim dog partially under the partition. Because the kennel dividers were not sealed to the floor, body fluids flowed freely into neighboring kennels.
Unable to loosen the bolts of the kennel divider, Animal Control Officer Jewel lifted the structure to release the embedded and crushed paw. The victim dog was placed on a stretcher, which was titled to navigate through the narrow kennel enclosure.
Animal Control Officers Jewel and Gudakunst transported the victim dog down the street, less than one mile, to the 24 hour Emergency Service VCA Alexandria Animal Hospital on Duke Street for treatment. The victim dog did not survive.
It is not known why the Animal Resorts Inc. staff did not have an emergency plan and did not attempt to extricate the victim dog and obtain veterinary care.
The attacking dog was taken into the custody of the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Upon review of Animal Welfare League of Alexandria records, Animal Control Officer Jewel discovered that the attacking dog in this case had attacked and killed another dog at Animal Resorts Inc. on June 26, 2011.
It is unknown why the attacking dog was allowed to return to Animal Resorts Inc. after the 2011 killing. Due to lack of evidence, no charges were filed in the 2011 attack and death.
Regarding the 2012 incident, “Animal Resorts Inc. was charged with a class one misdemeanor for failure to provide veterinary care,” says Patrick Cole, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Director of Communications and Outreach.
According to Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Law section §3.2-6518, “If an animal becomes ill or injured while in the custody of the boarding establishment or groomer, the boarding establishment or groomer shall provide the animal with emergency veterinary treatment for the illness or injury.”
“The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria could have and would have shut Animal Resorts Inc. down immediately if we had the power to regulate and inspect animal facilities,” Cole says.
Instead, Animal Resorts Inc. remained open for business for two more months.
Cole cited numerous safety and health hazards at Animal Resorts Inc. observed and documented by Animal Control Officer Jewel including but not limited to expired vaccination records, inaccurate emergency client contact information, inadequate care and the poor construction, size, and configuration of the dog kennels. Additionally, Animal Resorts Inc. was operating with no business insurance and an expired business license.
“There are many reputable companion animal facilities in Alexandria,” Cole states referring to boarding establishments, groomers, pet shops, and rescues. “We have many wonderful working relationships with these professionals.”
To preserve the safety of all companion animals, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is drafting a proposal to present to the Alexandria City Council to broaden their authority to certify and inspect facilities housing companion animals, their records regarding animal care and welfare, and compliance with Virginia Comprehensive Animal Laws.
“The goal of legislation and empowerment is to create a safe standard, prevent accidents, and close disreputable businesses,” Cole states.
Unfortunately, all charges against Animal Resorts Inc. were dropped completely. Animal Resorts Inc. finally closed after filing for bankruptcy.
And the fate of the attacking dog? The attacking dog was euthanized.
This article is dedicated to the caregivers of the three dogs who lost their lives as a result of animal cruelty and neglect at Animal Resorts Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia.