Couple Says Dog Died While at Training Facility

Posted at 11:20 PM, Jun 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-27 23:20:25-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – A Louisville couple wants to warn dog owners about a Lexington training and boarding facility after they say their dog died there this month. 

Jason Smith said his two-year-old Bullmastiff, Rhaegar, died while boarded at Canine Unleashed, located off Sandersville Road, for training.

Since he and his wife are expecting a child later this year, the two wanted the young dog to be better trained. 

"He was playful, rambunctious, he lived to rip around the house," Smith said. 

With a friend’s recommendation, Smith brought Rhaegar to Canine Unleashed. He said the training program was about two-and-a-half weeks long.  

"They were highly rated on Facebook, highly rated on Google. From all the research we did, this was a good place to take your dog," he said. 

Smith said two weeks of boarding went by without a problem, but in the third week, tragedy struck. Smith said that on June 16, the owner, Tommy Dillon, called him and told him Rhaegar was dead. 

The high temperature in Lexington that day was 92 degrees. Results of a necropsy revealed the cause of death for the dog as heat stroke.

"There was no reason for him to die that day, there was no cause for him to die that," Smith said. "There was nothing that could’ve prepared me for knowing he was going to die that day."

Smith’s wife took pictures of the facility when they picked up their dog that day, which the couple says show Rhaegar had little shade and no water.

"I think it was just carelessness. at the end of the day, that’s still animal abuse, that’s still animal cruelty," Smith said. "Just because there wasn’t intent, doesn’t mean there wasn’t animal abuse or animal cruelty."

The owner of Canine Unleashed declined to comment, but said he’s closing the business for reasons unrelated to this situation. 

While an LEX 18 News crew was there Wednesday, an officer from Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control stopped by. The department says it has an open investigation into the matter.