NZ Herald Focus logo
Tess Nichol is the Consumer Affairs reporter for the Herald.

Dog owners devastated after pet believed mauled to death at doggy daycare

A dog found dead and covered in bite wounds is believed to have been mauled to death by other dogs while at a doggy daycare.

Auckland Council is investigating the incident and the dog's owners and the SPCA are calling for the industry's regulation.

Meanwhile, the owner of Valley Dog Daycare in west Auckland where the incident happened said she has closed her business and will never re-open.

Bridget Chung and her husband Mike adopted Wilson, a 17-month-old huntaway-doberman cross in 2016 when he was a puppy.

Wilson was "everything we wanted in a companion" - obedient, playful, friendly and affectionate, she said.

"We wanted to give him the happy, loving and safe home that he desperately needed."

Chung and her husband had been sending Wilson to Valley Dog Daycare a few times a week for the past year.

But when her husband went to collect Wilson on Tuesday, the owner did not know where he was.

"My husband went to look for him, and found him dead in a pond on site. He was covered in bite wounds and puncture marks."

Chung was in agony over her "Willy" dying such a lonely death at a place she and her husband had chosen because they trusted he would be safe and well looked after.

"We are absolutely devastated. We trusted Valley Dogs to care for Willy, but something went badly wrong.

"We are doing everything we can to ascertain exactly what happened, and want to ensure that no other animal entrusted to a daycare facility has to endure what Wilson did."

Valley Dogs Daycare's owner Trudi Hewett said she was so upset by the incident she would be closing the business she had run for 10 years and would never look after dogs again.

"I've closed the business completely and I will never re-open," she said.

"Never, never, never open... this has just upset me so badly."

The two dogs involved had been at the daycare for six months together without incident and she had followed recommendations for doggy daycare owners, Hewett said.

"I loved him like my own," she said of Wilson.

SPCA Auckland chief executive Andrea Midgen said doggy daycare was an unregulated industry, but operators still must comply with the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

"We would like to see further regulations in all businesses that care for animals to ensure the animal welfare needs are always met," she said.

Doggy daycare was a good option for dog owners who work away from home, but Midgen said owners should choose their facility carefully.

"Ask the staff questions about if the dogs are continually supervised during the day, what are the emergency response protocols, staffing numbers and if they have relevant animal welfare or animal behaviour qualifications, and visit the premises to see where they will be during the day.

"It's important to note too that not all dogs are suited to a doggy daycare environment, so taking your dog for a trial day to see how they cope is essential."

SPCA Auckland has been working on developing an inspection regime for all doggy daycare and boarding establishments in the Auckland region.

Inspections of all Auckland boarding establishments will start soon, and while the industry was unregulated the SPCA will be helping to ensure appropriate systems and processes were in place.

Tracey Moore, manager for animal control at Auckland Council, said the animal management team was investigating the incident.

"As the investigation is ongoing, the council cannot comment any further at this time.

"The owner of the centre is co-operating fully with the council and has closed the facility until further notice."

Police were not investigating the incident.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 May 2017 16:41:52 Processing Time: 52ms