A Hawaiian couple is suing doggie daycare iT’s Dogplay and an animal hospital, claiming both businesses lied to them about how their chihuahua, Jojo, actually died while in the center’s care.
Last June, Les and Laura Sherrill dropped off 7-year-old Jojo at It’s Dogplay, a facility claiming to be “Hawaii’s Only Doggie Resort and Water Park.” The center provides amenities like shallow swimming pools, a special needs programs for disabled dogs, training and pick ups and drop offs in a Mercedes van. They thought they were in good hands: They were wrong.
After a few days of having their boarded at the business, the Sherrills received a phone call from owners Mirko and Mia Manfredi telling them they had found Jojo unconscious. Mirko speculated “the dog must have passed away from natural causes,” according to documents obtained by The Huffington Post. The Sherrills followed up with the veterinarian at the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital who examined Jojo after her passing and was told that the same reason for the pup’s cause of death. But, according to the Sherrills, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The couple reached out to their personal vet, Dr. Kirk Ayling, to get a second opinion. After seeing a number of bite marks, puncture wounds and other injuries, Ayling stated the cause of death was a “crushing wound to the animal’s chest.” An employees corroborated his findings.
The lawsuit states former staff member Lisa Ponter heard a loud racket in the garage of the facility, where the dogs are kept. Ususally, the dogs are separated – small dogs in one area and larger dogs in another – but Ponter told The Huffington Post another employee accidentally released them into the same play area. This is where things went down hill.
According to Ponter, when she saw Jojo convulsing and having trouble breathing, a staff member told her a black labrador picked up the little 4-pound dog and shook her a few times before dropping her to the ground. Ponter goes on to say once the Manfredis found out, they told employees to not tell anybody and to go along with the natural death story.
The Sherrills are suing both the Manfredis and the animal hospital for $50,000 in damages. Since this story has come to light, ex-employees have come forward sharing their own stories about unsafe work conditions. People are also protesting outside It’s Dogplay wanting the facility to be shutdown.