A couple have been left heartbroken after returning home from holiday to find two of their four dogs had died after being left in the hands of a dog kennel.
Tim and Olga Shaw, from Thorney, Cambridgeshire, left their four pet pooches at Three Counties Dog Rescue in Bourne, Lincolnshire, while on holiday in May last year.
After returning to pick up their pets, they were “shocked” to be told only two of them had survived the stay.
Management claimed one of their own dogs had killed the other two during a “fight” – claims which the couple have rubbished after being awarded £3,000 in compensation for their loss.
The kennel maintains “there is no other realistic explanation” for how the two dogs died, and claims a veterinary report proved the cause of death.
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The couple, aged 56 and 46, have been left furious at the explanation, vowing to never use the kennel again claiming their dogs were not taken care of properly and left for hours without supervision at night.
After originally leaving their four dogs Minty, Daisy, Boss, and Teddy at the boarding kennels for a previous two-night stay in February 2022, the couple decided to put them in their care for a second time in May the same year, when they went on a one-week holiday, reports the Mirror.
They were driving back up the A1 after ending their holiday a day early when Olga was told over the phone that their two chihuahuas – Boss, seven, and Teddy, aged two – had been “killed” by Daisy.
Recalling the horror moment they were told of their pets’ deaths, Tim said: “We turned up at the kennels and we were absolutely shocked – completely beside ourselves, really, and not able to console ourselves. They pointed to one of our dogs as being the culprit, and said they had a report of blood on her muzzle.”
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Initially, the couple asked the centre – which also operates a shelter, from which they had previously adopted a dog themselves – to rehome Jack Russell/chihuahua cross Daisy, as they didn’t want her to be around Minty if she had been responsible. But after a few days they started to develop doubts about the kennel’s version of events, and took Daisy home before bringing her to a dog psychologist.
The professional reportedly suggested such behaviour would not be normal for the dog, on the basis of the relationship she displayed with Minty. He recalled: “She said if she [Daisy] had done it – ‘if’ she had done it – then she would have been subjected to a great level of stress at the time, way beyond any normal level of stress”.
As well as the kennel – who they claim did not supervise the dogs overnight and kept them in spaces the “size of a door” – the couple have also hit out their local authority. They believe South Kesteven District Council did not investigate the incident properly during the complaints process, and refused to take their concerns about conditions at the kennel seriously.
Tim, a chartered account, even alleges that there was a “close relationship” between the council and the kennel, and claims the investigating officer – who originally found in Three Counties Dog Rescue’s favour – had been the same person who awarded the kennel their operating licence in the first place. They also said that court documents showed the kennel emailed the council to ask for “help” about their complaint.
He said: “After about a month we got a report that said ‘as far as we can see, your dogs did it and the kennel wasn’t to blame, they did everything they could’. But as we crowed with the council and the officer about what had happened, we realised that our four dogs had been kept for 16 hours a day in a kennel that was 1.9 metres square – it’s the size of a door. There was no human on site in that period, there was no CCTV, frankly anything could have happened. The conditions they were kept in were just horrendous.”
A 12-month legal case then followed before reaching a conclusion at Peterborough Crown Court in May, with the couple being awarded £2,500 for the loss of the dogs and £557.10 in legal costs. But the ordeal has taken its toll on Tim and Olga, who said it came as part of a ‘terrible year’ that also saw them dragged into a small claims court by rogue builders, before their claim was quickly thrown out. The 56-year-old has a life threatening heart condition, and says the two cases combined have caused him several months of unnecessary stress.
Tim, who said he would have been “happy without a penny” if it meant ensuring this doesn’t happen to another family, now says he will “never” leave his pets with a kennel again – and believes more needs to be done to train staff and ensure standards are kept up at kennels once they have their licence.
Three Counties Dog Rescue told the Mirror that there is someone on the site of the kennels “all the time”, including overnight. They added that the Shaws had initially accepted their explanation of the events before pursuing legal action, and had warned them that Daisy was ‘bossy’ when they were dropping her off.
They said: “Three Counties Dog Rescue are a registered charity and has been in existence for over 50 years. We have a commercial boarding arm to raise funds to support the rescue work. The Shaw’s dogs had previously been to us for boarding and shared a kennel. When they came to us for boarding in 2022 we asked whether they wanted them to share again and they said yes but watch out for Daisy ‘as she can be a bit bossy’. There were no problems over the first three days of the boarding.
“On the following morning it was discovered that two of the dogs were dead and Daisy had blood on her nose. We took all four dogs to our vets who confirmed that the deaths had been caused by the attack of the other dog. When the Shaws came to collect the dogs Mrs Shaw said “Daisy Daisy what have you done?” At this time Daisy was playing rough with Minty, the other dog.
“The Shaws asked us to rehome Daisy but that any new owners should be warned about Daisy’s behaviour. Subsequently they decided to take Daisy back but asked if we could recommend a behaviourist to help them. This is supported by Mrs Shaws’ texts. As regards the accusations, the licensing authority carried out an extensive review of our boarding arrangements covering Kennel size and location, staffing levels, and training and competence. They reported ‘we do not consider that Three Counties have breached their Animal Welfare Licence nor the relevant Animal Welfare Regulations in relation to the incident’.
“It is beyond the bounds of reality to believe that the deaths were caused by other than an attack by the other dog. There is no other realistic explanation. Mr Shaw mounted a money claim against us for £4000 for the loss of the dogs. We were unable to attend the hearing due to illness but the judge reduced the money claim to £2500.”
A spokesperson for South Kesteven District Council said: “We are aware of the kennels and continue to work with them, as we do with all our licensed premises, to ensure they meet the terms of their licence.”
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