The loss of an animal's life under any circumstance is always a tragedy, but at the beginning of last month, one Canadian pet daycare and boarding facility bore witness to an incredibly devastating incident – the loss of 14 dogs, including an autism service dog, following a heating malfunction. The Playful Paws Pet Center in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan reportedly lost the pups to heat exhaustion after a fault caused temperatures to soar beyond 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius), though an official investigation is currently underway to determine exactly what happened.
An open letter included on the facility's homepage says:
To all of our customers and pet owners:
On September 10 of this year our kennel suffered an unimaginable tragedy with the loss of life of 14 dogs. Playful Paws is incredibly devastated by this horrific event and our profound sympathy goes out to the owners and families of these dogs. Our entire team of staff and managers love the dogs that are our customers and each of us is struggling greatly to cope with this extreme sorrow in our own way.
This accident was caused by an electrical malfunction within our heating and air conditioning systems. While the investigation to determine the root cause of this failure continues, we immediately repaired and replaced the faulty equipment. In addition to this; and even more importantly, we have replaced our previous security alarm system and added high and low temperature alarm sensors. These sensors are now located in seven different locations in our kennel and will set off our security alarm if ever the temperature reaches a high of 27C or a low of 12C. This alarm will not only show up on our manager's smart phone, but will also solicit a call from the alarm monitoring centre to our key holders to ensure they come to the kennel to resolve any issue and to ensure the safety and well-being of the dogs and cats. This alarm system modification is the most significant change to ensure that the accident that occurred can never happen again. In addition to this we are also in the process of reviewing all other aspects of our business to ensure that we are at or above all recommended standards for kennel operations.
We thank you for your support during this very difficult time and if you wish to come visit us we will be happy to answer any further questions that you may have.
Playful Paws Pet Center
Since the tragedy, one former employee has come forward to criticize certain elements of the facility's care, including failure to check vaccinations, poor ventilation, and a failure to use the correct disinfectants, as well as dogs being left unsupervised for long periods of time. Facility Manager Bonnie Clark has since refuted those claims, while the Saskatoon SPCA continues its investigations. A public memorial was held at Acadia McKague's Funeral Center for the fourteen pups the week following the tragedy.
Our thoughts are with the families of those dogs. We hope that the investigation and any subsequent action is completed swiftly and without further trauma caused to those involved.