WHITMAN — With a necropsy scheduled next week, state and local officials are investigating the death of a German shepherd dog boarded over a weekend at Annie’s Clean Critters.
Animal Control, Whitman Police and the Animal Rescue League are investigating the death of the dog, named Maximus, owned by Abington resident Robert Foley.
The Board of Health is not involved in the investigation at this time, according to staff members there.
Foley stated in a memorial Facebook post about his dog that he was told by Annie’s Clean Critters owner Annie Brown Monday evening that the dog died of stomach bloat — after he had spent an entire day trying to contact someone at the business to pick up the dog after a weekend away with his family.
An official cause of death will be determined by the planned necropsy.
Foley wrote that he had gone to pick up Maximus at 10 a.m. Monday, but “there was not one person in the shop and they never returned voicemails, emails, or Facebook messages, only a sign on the empty store saying ‘will be back at 4.’” By 5:30 p.m., there was still no one there.
Foley said when he contacted an employee, they had Brown contact him and he was then told the dog had died between 3 and 5 p.m. He lamented that, in the time it took him to find someone at the shop, he could have taken Maximus to a vet where the dog could have had a “40- to 50-percent chance of survival.”
Foley also alleged that the business refused to show him a surveillance video of his dog’s stay. He said he had boarded his dog at Annie’s Clean Critters before and that “things seemed to go well,” which is why he tried them again.
Contacted by the Express Tuesday, Brown said she was “devastated for the family, but we have no comment at this time.”
Whitman Police Chief Scott Benton said he could not comment on an ongoing investigation, but confirmed humane authorities are investigating and had “taken action.”
According to published reports, Lt. Alan Borgal of the Animal Rescue League has inspected the business and found unsanitary conditions and a lack of shade at the Annie’s Clean Critters outdoor kennel.
Lt. Borgal did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. Brown, whose business has operated for 14 years in Whitman has also been the East Bridgewater animal control officer for some 30 years.
“We have been made aware of an ongoing investigation in the neighboring town of Whitman involving a contractor of the town of East Bridgewater who provides animal control services,” East Bridgewater Police Chief Scott Allen said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “It is the procedure of our Police Department that we will not utilize these services pending the outcome of the investigation. The East Bridgewater Police Department is in contact with neighboring communities and law-enforcement agencies to provide animal control resources on a mutual aid basis in the interim.”
This is the second canine fatality at a Whitman pet care business this year. In May, a Bermese Mountain Dog named Bailey died after suffering seizures during a grooming visit at a Bedford Street business.
After the owners of that business had received threats, Whitman Police issued a press release on its determination that there had been no indication of abuse or neglect by that business.
“The rush to judgment and attacks directed at [the business] through social media as well as phone calls to the business is very disturbing,” the department stated at the time.