It’s always hard to leave your pets behind when you travel, and it’s even harder leaving them in the care of strangers. But sometimes you have no choice but to board your pet in a kennel.
However you have to have faith that the people caring for your dog are professionals who will give them all the care they need while you’re away, and that you’ll come back to a happy, healthy pet.
But when one woman left her dog behind, little did she know the heartbreak and outrage she would she would feel when she returned.
In late December 2018, Kirsten Kinch, from Dublin, Ireland, was going on a three-day trip to Iceland with her family. She needed to find someone to care for her pet husky, Nova, who had recently been suffering from colitis, an inflammation of the colon.
But the dog was being treated with steroids and was recovering nicely. After clearing things with her vet, Kirsten thought it’d be safe to leave Nova with P&E Boarding Kennels, along with her other dog.
“I gave multiple written and verbal instructions on how the steroid was to be given separately to her food and that she needs to get this twice a day,” Kirsten wrote on Facebook. “P&E also advertise that they cater for medication and dogs that need extra care once they are informed in advance.”
So Kirsten went on vacation assuming that the husky would be cared for… but when she returned to pick up her dogs, she got some shocking news: the kennel owners had found Nova dead that morning, with blood coming out of her.
Kirsten was devastated: “I thought it was some horrible joke considering we had left a healthy dog in to be cared for 3 days earlier,” she wrote on Facebook.
But making things even worse was the condition she found the dog’s remains: crudely concealed in what she called “a black bag which was covered in masking tape.”
“There was clearly so little care and empathy in the way she had been handled and dealt with since finding her,” Kirsten wrote. “There are no words to describe how upsetting and traumatic it was to carry her to the car and take her home in what seemed a completely inhuman way.”
She rushed the dead dog to her vet, who was also shocked to see how the dog was wrapped. They sent Nova for a postmortem, which found the dog died from internal bleeding.
Padden Cullen, the owner of P&E Kennels, defended himself by claiming Nova actually died from parvovirus, a deadly, contagious illness with many of the same symptoms as colitis, and he wrapped the dog like that to prevent the disease from spreading to the other dogs.
“I rang the vet and was told to wrap up the dog so as not to infect the other dogs,” Cullen told The Mirror. “What other way could we do it?”
“I am very sorry that her dog passed and it happened to pass while she was here with us.”
But Kirsten isn’t buying it, maintaining that the dog died from her colitis condition that the kennel failed to care for. She pointed out a number of holes in the kennel’s explanation and called it a “cover up.”
Both her dogs were vaccinated for parvovirus, and she showed the kennel the vaccination certificates. Her other dog Romeo was kept in the same kennel, but was perfectly fine.
Most suspiciously, Kirsten says the kennel did not answer her repeated attempts to contact them with follow-up questions about Nova’s death.
“I have still yet to be contacted by Paddy or any member of staff,” she wrote on Facebook. “If the kennels expected parvo why wasn’t this said to me when I arrived to collect Romeo and Nova? Why did Paddy Cullen leave in such a rush when we arrived?”
Since Kirsten posted the story in April, people online have been outraged and are demanding justice. A Change.org petition calling to shut down P&E has over 130,000 signatures. As of writing, it is still in business.
“Nova was a once in a lifetime kind of dog for me and my family and has left a hole that will always be impossible to fill, she is loved and missed every single day and I hope writing this can stop a similar situation in the future,” Kirsten wrote.
Sadly, nothing can bring Nova back. But hopefully the story will bring accountability for those involved or inspire positive change.
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