A Wellington woman’s dog, nearly died while in the care of a pet boarding facility.
Now, Animal Care and Control of Palm Beach County (ACC) has launched an investigation into the incidents reported at Pawsitively Love in Loxahatchee.
ACC said the facility is run out of a private home. It is facing four different citations from ACC, including overcrowding of animals and not cooperating with investigators on turning over records.
We learned from ACC that this is a common problem they’ve been dealing with across Palm Beach County -- particularly in rural areas like The Acreage and Palm Beach and the county -- is trying to crack down on it.
Just weeks ago, Peanut -- a French bulldog -- was on his deathbed.
“A lot of bizarre, unethical and troubling things happened," said Peanut's owner, Elizabeth Calzadilla.
Strong accusations from Calzadilla, who she says she used pet boarding website Rover.com to book a stay for Peanut and her other dog, Pickle, at Pawsitively Love. Rover.com is a national website that allows businesses to advertise services and connect with clients.
Calzadilla had utilized Rover.com to book with Pawsitively for a two-day stay and didn't have any issues the first time. When she had to go out of time, she decided to use Rover.com a second time.
“I never saw where they kept the animals but everything seemed fine," she said.
Looking back in retrospect, Calzadilla said there were several red flags, such as asking for payment up front.
"I took for granted the fact that they didn’t even ask for vaccination records," she said.
On the very first night, Calzadilla said she got a frantic phone call from the owner's daughter.
“She basically told me that you need to accept that your dog may die," she said.
The owner of the business then took the phone and explained that Peanut had allegedly come into contact with a poisonous bufo toad.
“She told me, 'If your dog dies, I will just buy you another dog.' As if a member of my family were recyclable," said Calzadilla.
Calzadilla said the business owners told her that they initially told the veterinarians at Palms West Veterinary Clinic that Peanut was theirs, and that therefore she could not contact the vet. Doing so, Calzadilla was told, would result in the veterinarian denying Peanut care -- which she later found out to not be true.
Calzadilla also later learned from the vet that Peanut was brought to them more than an hour after contact with the toad.
Elizabeth connected with others, who claim their dogs were left in barns with no air conditioning and no access to medications at the boarding facility.
The incidents prompted ACC to launch an investigation into the boarding facility.
“She has more animals on that property than is allowed," said Dianne Sauve, Director for ACC.
Sauve confirmed that Pawsitively is not properly licensed.
“They can’t get that permit unless they are appropriately zoned," she said. “Very few residential communities want large dog boarding facilities right next to them.”
ACC says this is an example of ongoing zoning issues with pet boarding facilities, operating out of homes in rural Palm Beach County.
“This came on our radar a couple of years ago," said Sauve. “Just because you can go online and sign up to be a professional trainer or dog boarding facility, doesn’t mean that you’re legal in Palm Beach County.”
WPTV visited Pawsitively love’s property to ask them about the ACC investigation but we're told by one of the owners that they did not want to give a comment.
ACC encourages pet owners to do their homework while looking for a boarding facility.
“You need to make sure you’re dealing with somebody whose licensed, accredited, insured, has all the right paperwork," said Sauve.
Palm Beach County officials have given a grace period for businesses like Pawsitively Love to get zoned and then get the required permits.
That deadline is coming up on September 1, 2018. After that, those facilities will face penalties.