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Records show a history of complaints against dog day care before facility fires – KING5.com

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SEATTLE — A Seattle dog day care facility made headlines for having two fires break out at its facilities last year.
The fires sent animals scrambling for safety, but KING 5 found that the company had a history of complaints that ranged from overcrowding and unsanitary conditions to animal cruelty.
Nearly one year ago to the day, firefighters rushed to the Dog Resort in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood after getting a call about a fire.
More than 120 dogs were evacuated. It was a chaotic scene as firefighters worked to put out the flames, which started from the dryer.
Former employees are now speaking out and saying the fire would never have happened if the owners had listened to their concerns.
“There were a lot of things, the way it was installed, how old the dryer was, just general safety protocols. There were so many things that could have been prevented,” former employee Karissa Wans said.
Mona Elassiouti, the owner of the Dog Resort, said the dryers received regular maintenance and that whenever concerns arose, they were immediately scheduled for repairs or replaced.
Unaware of the documented problems, Carol Wallace took her black lab, Jake, to the Dog Resort.
“I work very early hours, so I had to find a daycare that was close by and open early, and the dog resort opened early so that worked for me,” Wallace said.
Jake was one of the confused dogs who ran around frantically when the fire broke out.
Wallace said she now feels strongly the facility was not run well.
“It’s not a good situation. And I hope she never is able to run another doggy day care because she really didn’t maintain her facility, she didn’t do her workers right, and she certainly didn’t do the poor dogs right and the ones who lost their lives,” Wallace said. “It’s very unethical.” 
A review of hundreds of pages of government records shows that fire is the tip of the iceberg. The dog boarding company has a history of serious trouble: complaints, unsatisfactory inspections, and warnings about animal cruelty.
Dog owners and employees lodged 27 different complaints with multiple agencies. The Attorney General’s Office and Seattle Animal Control, Labor and Industries and Public Health – Seattle & King County, which issued six unsatisfactory inspection reports.
According to Labor and Industries, they issued four serious and five general violations during their investigation. Those fines totaled $9,600 and resulted in the suspension of the facility’s Public Health permit. Read the entire citation below:
After the inspection, the owner submitted a request to appeal. 
“We conducted re-inspections Sept. 22, Oct. 3, and Oct. 12, observing and documenting progress towards compliance requirements. The last re-inspection was Nov. 8, and we found the facility had substantially met the compliance requirements,” officials with L&I told KING 5.
Public Health inspectors found a long list of problems during their investigations. Photos taken during the process and submitted by former employees highlighted issues contributing to the potentially dangerous facilities.
The photos showed evidence of dogs without water, one locked in a diarrhea-filled kennel, dirty conditions, loose wires, sharp and rusty metals, injured dogs and overcrowding. 
Documents even showed only three staff members were in charge of 146 dogs at one point. 
 The owner of the Dog Resort, Mona Elassiouti, said the dangerous ratio was due to multiple employees walking out during their shifts or not showing up at all. 
“After that, we made changes to our hiring procedures and utilized a recruitment firm and temporary staffing agency to ensure our staffing levels remained in compliance even if multiple people called out sick on any given day,” Elassiouti told KING 5. 
She also said that after the first fire at the Lake City location, they created an entire evacuation process, including gating and fencing to move dogs away from the building in case of emergencies.

Approximately nine months after the first fire, their evacuation plan was put to the test when a fire broke out again. This time, at the company’s second location in south Seattle.

The outcome was deadly: three dogs escaped and only one survived.
A dog named Remi was badly injured. Two dogs, Georgie and North, died amid the chaos. Their owners believe they were hit by cars.
The owner of the Dog Resort told KING 5 the dogs got loose after firefighters at the scene opened the gate to a secure, fenced-in area where they evacuated the dogs.
“While The Dog Resort bears a heavy heart for the two dogs that were lost, we can’t even imagine what would have occurred if we had not had an evacuation protocol in place at SODO, including the gating and fencing which we built to keep the dogs away from the building,” Elassiouti said. “We are grateful to hear that the Board of Health will be adding legislative rules pertaining to fire safety regulations for dog boarding and daycare facilities in the near future.”
The Seattle Fire Department said they had to get to the flames on the second floor by entering through the gated driveway.
SFD provided a statement to KING 5 that read, in part:
“Primary access to the building was through a gated driveway. As crews opened the gate, additional resources were requested to help corral dogs entering the street. 
In this circumstance, our priority is to extinguish the fire and rescue anyone found inside the building. Uncontrolled fires can spread quickly and are a life-threatening emergency. Any delay in responding to the fire would have escalated the hazard for everyone within the gated facility.”
Although the employees who have come forward no longer worked for the company at the time of this fire, they weren’t surprised by another catastrophic event.
“These are dogs we loved and cared about, cared about almost like our own,” Wans said. “And, you know, we’re never gonna see them again. And they unfortunately had to die in a really tragic, probably painful, way.”
They hope speaking out will prevent more suffering for dogs who need care and their owners.
“We’re hoping that like, our giving our story will give more insight into day cares that people are taking their dogs to as well as hoping that our story and the things we had to deal with and red flags from the Dog Resort will also change just day cares policies in general, and make it a safer place for other dogs,” Cart said.
“I think we feel so much responsibility for the dogs we took care of at Dog Resort. We feel the need to be that leading in the conversation and be their voices,” Wans said.

There are no active permits for either location and Public Health says applications for new permits have not been submitted.  
Before the second fire, Elassiouti was working to get her license back into compliance and met the necessary requirements, but then only days later, the fire happened, making her license inactive. 
Elassiouti told KING 5, “Our love for these furry kids is so large.”
“We’ve rescued so many dogs and purchased wheelchairs for dogs that were placed in our care in an immobile state,” she said. “We also partnered with the VA Hospital to provide no-charge services to veterans that don’t have the financial ability nor family member support to care for their dog(s) while in ICU at the VA Hospital.”
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