Death Exposes Kennel Concerns
POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2009
UPDATED: 11:15 pm EDT July 1, 2009
Two years ago, a Macomb Township family dropped off their three dogs at Camp Wag A Tail boarding kennel in Romeo and never imagined the heartbreak to come.
Cheryl Walper was grateful to find a place that would care for her animals because one of her dogs, Chopper, is diabetic and requires two insulin shots a day.
Walper said it was difficult to find a kennel that would administer the shots; she was happy and relieved when Anne Cotsonika at Camp Wag A Tail told her injecting the insulin would not be a problem.
"She had assured me over and over again," said Walper.
Walper also said she went to great lengths to differentiate her three dogs taking a picture of all three animals, writing their names and posting the image on their kennel.
Just a few days into their family trip to Traverse City, Walper got a call from Cotsonika.
"At seven in the morning we got a call that Chopper was in a diabetic coma." said Walper. "She called us back about a half hour later, saying she was confused because she didn't think it was Chopper it was Hershey. And I was like `Hershey? It's the black and white dog?' Well Chopper is the one with the diabetes."
According to documents from Wilson Veterinary Hospital in Washington Township, Hershey was given a massive dose of insulin though the animal did not have diabetes.
The family raced back home when the vet said Hershey's prognosis wasn't good.
"When we called the vet he said, `You should be driving home right now because I don't think your dog is going to make it.'"
The family found their beloved dog in critical condition.
"She was paddling and we asked the vet why she was doing that and he said she had brain swelling," said Walper.
Hershey died the next morning. The vet ruled the dog died of hypoglycemic seizure from an accidental overdose of insulin.
"I think that they gave the wrong the dog the shot," said Walper. Though she said she doesn't understand how the mix-up happened, "they don't look anything alike," Walper said.
The Walpers and their two young sons were devastated; however, their ordeal was hardly over.
The Walpers believe Hershey was given insulin for days and Chopper, the diabetic dog that needs insulin, went without.
Chopper became very sick and had to be taken to the vet for several days in the following weeks.
However, Walper said it was the way they were treated after Hershey's death that pushed them to take legal action against the kennel.
"I understand people make mistakes, I really do, we're all human, but the way she went about it and the way she handled it was not human, was not somebody you would want your animals to be in the care of," said Walper. "We weren't going to sue her, I'm not the suing type of person, but she won't say she's sorry, she won't pay our vet bills. We have almost $3,000 of vet bills and I feel she should have paid."
Currently, the Walper's case is in default after Cotsonika failed to show up in court.
Right now, the settlement is still pending.
During Rescue 4's investigation into the kennel we uncovered that Anne and her husband Nick Cotsonika were forced to forfeit their pets to Macomb County last year after five dogs were found "very thin and appeared sickly."
Photos taken by animal control investigators showed the dogs had protruding ribs. Feces filled the dogs' living quarters and one bag of food was found half full, mold-ridden and tainted by rodent feces.
Walper questions how well Cotsonika can care for other animals when her own pets were removed from her home.
"How could you take care of dogs at your kennel when you can't take care of dogs at your own house? I think that's horrible," said Walper.
Rescue 4 Investigator Karen Drew approached Anne Cotsonika at Camp Wag A Tail for comment on the story; however, Cotsonika asked Rescue 4 to leave without speaking about the matter.
On Local 4 News Morning, experts reveal the red flags that should warn any pet owner a particular kennel may not be best option. That's Thursday morning at 6:15.