Fansided reported today that Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has settled with the dog boarding facility where he allegedly abandoned his four-month-old Boxer puppy. Bennett, 28, left Tampa, Florida last year to sign a one-year, $5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. He reportedly paid $10,000 to settle his outstanding bill at Lucky Dog Boarding Facility.
In a suit against the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Lucky Dog claimed that Bennett left his Boxer puppy, then named "Koa," in the boarding facility. According to Lucky Dog, there was no further communication afterward, despite their repeated attempts to contact Bennett and his wife, Pele. Lucky Dog filed a lawsuit in Dec. 2013 to recoup the $5000+ that they stated the Bennetts owed them for the puppy's care. After one year, attorneys for the boarding facility stated that Bennett did pay $10,000 for the outstanding bill.
Attorney Mark Aubin, who represented Lucky Dog pro-bono, discussed the case with the Seattle PI. According to Aubin, the Boxer puppy had to be separated from other dogs because he was not neutered and the puppy required two walks each day.
Aubin told the Seattle PI: “It wasn’t good. That just isn’t how you conduct business and that’s not how you treat an animal.”
In January of this year, TMZ first reported that Bennett was being sued by a the dog boarding facility. After he signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks in March 2013, TMZ reported that Bennett left his Boxer, Koa, at the Lucky Dog Daycare and Resort pet boarding facility. When TMZ Sports spoke with Bennett in Nov. 2013, Bennett did not explain why he left his dog at the pet boarding facility. He did state: "I thought [the $5k bill] was already taken care of. I will call them after work.”
Lucky Dog stated that this conversation did not occur, and that they made multiple attempts to contact Bennett, but without results until now. After the Boxer puppy was allegedly abandoned, Lucky Dog asserted that he had an emotional breakdown that caused a rapid decline in his health. The lawsuit stated that the puppy "eventually began refusing to eat, losing his hair, and clearly failing to thrive." There was no mention in the settlement regarding payment for the dog's emotional distress.
After he spent four months at the pet boarding facility, Koa, who is now renamed "Quigley," was taken to a Boxer rescue that helped him finally found a forever family. TMZ reports that Quigley is “doing great” and has “grown into a healthy, beautiful, smart and friendly dog who’s loved by his new family.”
According to Aubin, the Bennetts failed to respond to emails, telephone calls, and court orders. Aubin added that this spring, a Hillsborough County, Fla., judge ordered a judgment of approximately $8,200, but the Bennetts did not respond. Aubin responded by filing a motion for contempt of court in early June. Bennett's agent, Drew Rosenhaus of Rosenhaus Sports Representation, contacted Aubin to work out the settlement, which grew to nearly $15,000 from the initial $5,000 bill.
Lucky Dog, located in South Tampa, offers a variety of services for dogs, including daycare, grooming, and boarding. They provide 24-hour staff monitoring and their facilities house a 16+ camera surveillance system where clients can view their pets while they're at work or on vacation.
All dogs who come to Lucky Dog must be at least four months of age - which is the age that Quigley was when he was left at the facility. Boxers like Quigley are a large breed with the longest puppyhood in the world of dogs: they aren't considered to be fully mature until they are three years old. Boxers are friendly, alert, intelligent, and very loyal to their families, exhibiting exceptional patience and affection with children.
The defensive end, who led the Seattle Seahawks with 8.5 sacks in the regular season and 1.5 in the playoffs, signed a new contract with the Seahawks reportedly worth $28.5 million for four seasons.
Aubin added: “It was foolish. It was ridiculous. He abandoned the dog!”