Animal Protection and Control has opened an investigation against a Fort Collins boarding and training facility following a complaint from a Fort Collins family.
Tiffany Brown of Fort Collins said her 13-week-old purebred German shepherd puppy, Baron, suffered blunt force trauma and injuries that resulted in the surgical removal of the dog’s eye after boarding at American Dog School, 5809 Strauss Cabin Road, over the weekend. Animal Protection and Control confirmed Monday it is investigating the incident.
When Brown picked up Baron from the facility Sunday after a weekend stay, she said the puppy’s right eye was “bulging from the socket and looked dead.”
Brown said American Dog School owner Tami Carrasco had told her the dog had been fine a few hours before and that she hadn’t seen any sign of trauma.
Carrasco told the Coloradoan that she had been with or near Baron all weekend and did not notice any signs of trauma or injury until 5 p.m. Sunday, when she retrieved him for the Browns.
“He was running and rooting around all weekend,” she said. “He’s a great puppy. I would have rushed him to the hospital if I had seen anything wrong.” She’s owned American Dog School for 20 years.
“I have this business because I love dogs,” she said. “I would never, never hurt a puppy … I feel horrible. I love that puppy. I brag about him all the time.”
When Brown took Baron to Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Sunday evening, she was told Baron’s injuries were at least 24 hours old.
A veterinarian with the hospital told the Coloradoan that Baron’s injuries were a minimum of 24 hours old and that the puppy had suffered blunt force trauma similar to the severity a dog would experience in a “head-on collision with a car.”
“Medical records do not lie,” Brown said.
Carrasco said she’s already received multiple prank calls since the story broke Monday evening and fears what publicity about the incident will do to her business — which she maintains is not at fault.
“I’m worried that people will throw me in with the abusive dog trainer,” Carrasco said, referring to the case of Ryan Matthews, the former Loveland dog trainer who pleaded guilty to animal abuse at his training facility. “I would never hurt a dog. This scares me. I feel like I’m going to wake up with a burning cross in my yard.”
Brown bought Baron from Adel Haus German Shepherds, a breeding facility in Julesburg, as a companion dog for her five children, with the intent of also showing him and enrolling him in service dog training school.
The family had searched for a dog for more than six months and was “more than willing” to pay $2,400 for their dream dog — which included both personality and physical attributes.
“We immediately fell in love with him,” Brown said. “It was about finding that perfect puppy.”
Shortly after bringing Baron home in August, Brown began taking him to training at American Dog School and said she began working with Carrasco. After five or six training sessions, the Browns left Baron for a weekend stay.
“We had a good rapport,” she said. “She was really good with Baron … I felt totally comfortable with leaving him there. I don’t know what happened, but something did.”
After Baron’s surgery to remove the eye Monday, Brown hoped to take him home Monday evening. But the “young warrior,” as his name means, has a long row to hoe, she said.
“He’s still not out of the woods,” she said. “We’re just praying he has a full recovery. He’s definitely battled it out and shown his stuff. He has a battle scar now.”
Anyone with information regarding this investigation should contact Animal Protection and Control at (970) 226-3647, ext. 7.