Exclusive: Owners go on the offensive as complaints against Tampa doggie day care stack up

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — News Channel 8 has obtained new video from the Lucky Dog Daycare Resort & Spa as the facility faces more allegations.

All this, as former employees are turning up the heat on the owners as those owners come out swinging.

At this point, the owners of Lucky Dog say they’ve got nothing to lose as they claim they’re the victims of a smear campaign by former employees, while those former employees tell News Channel 8 they’re only looking out for the safety of the animals.

The video shows the final moments of a dog’s life as she dies of heat stroke.

Owner Michael Harding says “at this point I have nothing left to lose,” as he showed us the video.

They claim an employee left the dog outside for way too long and took too long to respond but when she does, he said, it’s her and not the trainer who beats his fists on the floor and she performs CPR.

Both were fired and now the owners claim that’s why they’re smearing them all over social media.

“I’ll tell you what’s intolerable is to suggest somehow I lied about this,” said Harding. “These fired employees seem to come with a new allegation each time and they’re absolute lies.”

The latest allegation to come to light is a third dog who died of possible heat exhaustion in July of last year.

On Thursday, Harding told News Channel 8, “Having operated for 8 years, we really never had an incident. We never had a dog die of heat stroke.”

Then on Friday, Harding said, “The management never brought it to my attention.”

We asked him as the owner, if he should have known about it.

“Yes,” Harding said, and then 5 minutes later, he told us, “The management staff intentionally didn’t tell us, kept it in their back pocket for just this situation and then tries to use it to smear our name.”

But in the past year, at least two former employees claim as many as six dogs died either at the facility or at the vet’s office.

Former employee Amber Petrillo worked at Lucky Dog until June when she left for a surgical procedure.

When we told her that Harding told us there were only two dogs who died from heat stroke, “That’s a lie. “

We asked Petrillo why she thought he would lie to us. She responded by saying, “To cover up everything that’s going on to make their face look better for their company.”

But we wanted to know if Petrillo is just a disgruntled employee who has an ax to grind?

“They can call me what they want but at the end of the day, the safety of all the dogs at the facility right now is what has to come first,” Petrillo said.

Meantime Harding told News Channel 8, “The lies have to end. We can’t let it continue anymore.”

Hillsborough County officials have been at Lucky Dog once before for a complaint when a dog reportedly had a cough and came home sick.

In that case, investigators say they found nothing wrong.

News Channel 8 wants to know who holds the owners accountable?

The Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center is investigating the deaths of the two dogs who died from heat exhaustion and still have to determine if there was negligence and the results of their findings are then given to the State Attorney’s Office.

In the meantime, we introduced you to Vashti on Thursday night.

Vashti is the four-year-old pit bull who slipped and fell in a hallway at Lucky Dog which resulted in two surgeries that led to $8,000 in medical bills.

Her owner claimed Lucky Dog’s owners were negligent since, she said, the employee handling Vashti was using the incorrect leash and when she tried to put the proper leash on, Vashti took off running and then slipped on the floor.

It was only after News Channel 8’s story on Thursday after Vashti’s owner, Sylvie Feinman, that Lucky Dog’s owners issued her a check.



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