Another Dead Dog, Another Lawsuit Against Houston's City Canine Kennel [UPDATED]
Another Houston couple says their dog died while in the care of a Houston kennel that was already under fire for alleged negligence in the death and disappearance of two other dogs.
Eric Morrison and Casey Shoemaker sued City Canine owners Dan Davis and Jeffrey Ryan in Harris County District Court last week, alleging that the kennel owners lied about how Morrison's and Shoemaker's German shorthaired pointer sustained serious injuries September 5.
Morrison and Shoemaker were vacationing in Vermont when they got a call from Davis, who said that their dog, Taj, suffered a minor puncture wound from "coming into a contact with a fence," according to the lawsuit.
Davis said he would take Taj to VERGI Animal Hospital. A veterinarian from VERGI then called Taj's owners with worse news, according to the suit: the vet said that Taj had multiple puncture wounds over his "entire body, face, and head," and was dehydrated and "in septic shock from a blood infection."
The vet said the injuries were consistent with bite wounds from another dog, the suit claims. Also:
When taken by [Davis] to the veterinarian, Taj was covered in dried mud, debris, filth, and had a putrid stench. Upon presenting to the animal hospital, Taj was in such dire pain that an orthopedic assessment could not be done until pain medication was administered. The veterinarian attempted to discuss this matter with [Davis], but was informed that Davis had supposedly gone to move his car, but he failed to return.
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Davis did not respond to requests for comment, and a response to the lawsuit has not been filed. (Morris and Shoemaker are seeking $200,000-$1 million in damages.) Morrison and Shoemaker returned to Houston, where they found their dog "unrecognizable due to the extent of his injuries" and swelling. Taj's owners concluded that "humane euthanasia would end his needless suffering, because he could not be saved."
The lawsuit also accuses Davis and Ryan of "warehousing" dogs in cramped plastic crates.
Davis and Ryan were sued in early August by another couple who say their German shepherd, Luxor, disappeared while at the kennel in July. A former employee, David Lozano, swore in an affidavit filed in that suit that he saw Luxor dead in his crate in a part of the kennel where the air conditioning unit had recently broken down. Lozano's account conflicts with Davis' account, that the dog had somehow escaped.
"I did not confront Daniel Davis about the dog," Lozano stated in his affidavit. "Shortly after that dog died, maybe a couple of days later, a Bulldog died. He was in the same building with the broken air-conditioner and was dead in his crate. Daniel Davis put the dog in the freezer."
Lozano continued, alleging that Davis lied to one of Luxor's owners, Carissa Wojehowski, who came to pick up her dog in July:
"I later learned Daniel Davis told her that her dog had just gotten out through the fence. Daniel Davis did not tell her that her dog was dead. Daniel Davis told me not to talk to Carissa Wojehowski and if she said anything to me to say that I just started working there, which is a lie"
As we reported last month, the City Canine website contained misleading information about Jeffrey Ryan's membership in various obedience and training associations — calls to those associations show that he was no longer a member. The website still states that Ryan is an "endorsed member" of the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors, but he's not, according to that organization's past president.
UPDATE September 19, 5 p.m.: A Harris County District Court judge on Monday socked Davis and Ryan with a $307,539 judgment in the Wojehowskis' lawsuit.
After the defendants failed to file a response to the lawsuit, Judge Caroline Baker hit them hard — rendering $27,513 in economic damages, plus $50,000 for mental anguish. She tripled that total, then tacked on $75,000 for "additional exemplary damages." (Davis and Ryan are also ordered to pay $13,400 in attorney's fees).
We're not sure what this means for the future of City Canine. We reached out to Davis and Ryan for comment and will update if we hear back.