WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The owners of a dog that was severely mauled while staying at a kennel last month have retained an attorney who is preparing to file a civil lawsuit against the Walnut Creek facility.
Antioch attorney LoriAnn Owens is representing Elizabeth and Alan Iannaccone of Concord and will file a civil lawsuit in Martinez to recover the costs of medical treatment for their dog Shadow. Owens has also retained a private investigator to find out what led to the dog mauling at North Gate Kennels.
“Our goal is to find out what happened to him and hold the place accountable,’’ Owens said. “It seems like the only way that is going to happen is through discovery and a lawsuit.”
The 4-year-old mutt was mauled at the kennel in late December and left with 18 puncture wounds to his body and tears to his ear and head. He’s had two surgeries already and could require a third, Elizabeth Iannaccone said.
“I just want this to prevent this from happening to someone else,’’ she said. “I’m doing this because I want to make sure they are held accountable and no one else has to go through this.”
Calls to the kennel were not returned.
The Iannaccone’s turned to a lawyer after Contra Costa County Animal Services Department refused to investigate the case. Spokesman Steve Burdo said the department, which has law enforcement powers, only investigates when a crime is alleged to occur.
“There’s no probable cause to investigate at this point,’’ Burdo said in an email. “We have not received any reports from any persons involved with first-hand knowledge regarding evidence that would indicate a crime occurred. Per the United States Constitution, a law enforcement agency requires probable cause to investigate a crime.”
But a state law that was written by State Sen. Bill Monning establishes standards for the care of pets while they are in boarding facilities. It provides operators of these facilities with clear guidance to help ensure the safety and well-being of pets while also providing protections to pet owners.
It also requires an animal control officer, a humane officer, or a peace officer who detects a violation to issue a notice to correct the violation. Operators could face fines up to $1,000 if corrections aren't completed.
The law also requires kennel owners to notify guest animals’ owners immediately of illnesses or injuries to their pets.
Iannaconne said North Gate Kennel waited two full days to notify the family about the attack and has steadfastly refused to give them information about the other dog and what happened.
Burdo said animal services is not aware of when the kennel notified her of the mauling.
“We have not heard anything about how or when she was specifically notified of the incident (and by whom, if it wasn't the kennel),’’ he said in an email.
This is the not the first time North Gate, which does not have an up-to-date county business license, has faced problems.
In December 2013, a former employee, who was terminated at the kennel, called animal services to report poor living conditions at the kennel, including a rat infestation. An officer and a veterinarian took a statement and went to the kennel and met with the owner, William Rogers.
The officer and veterinarian were given a tour of the facility and noted some dirty cat litter pans and some rats near a swamp cooler. The guest animals, however, were not found to be in poor health and all had plenty of food and water. When officials returned two weeks later, the problems had been fixed and the case was closed.