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Necropsies being conducted after another dog dies in care of Pawsitively Paradise

Martin County Sheriff's Office receives third complaint about 'suspicious and untimely death of another dog'
Posted at 2:36 PM, Mar 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-28 17:45:39-04

PALM CITY, Fla. — Another dog in the care of a Palm City pet grooming business has died, leading to a necropsy to determine if criminal charges are warranted as the Martin County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the mysterious deaths.

The Martin County Sheriff's Office said Thursday in a Facebook post that it has received a third complaint about "the suspicious and untimely death of another dog," this time a 2-year-old labradoodle in the care of Nikki Camerlengo, owner of Pawsitively Paradise.

According to the Martin County Sheriff's Office, necropsies are being conducted on the latest dog to die, along with another left in Camerlengo's care.

It is at least the fourth to die in the care of Pawsitively Paradise since 2018.

WPTV's Kate Hussey first reported that the Martin County Sheriff's Office was investigating the business in November 2022 after a Palm City couple, Dan and Adelle Csontos, said one of their flat-coated retrievers died.

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"I didn't want to believe it," Adelle Csantos said at the time. "He was a happy, healthy dog."

Hussey reported on two more dog deaths earlier this month.

Turner Benoit told WPTV his mother paid Pawsitively Paradise to train her golden doodle for a week while she was getting knee surgery. Instead, Turner Benoit received a call from the owner that Flurry had died.

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Benoit said Flurry was young, healthy and had no prior conditions before putting her in Pawsitively Paradise's care.

"I don't know what happened," he said.

WPTV also learned of another mysterious dog death six years earlier.

Chalimar Gregory told WPTV she placed her 4-month-old Rottweiler in the care of Pawsitively Paradise for about a week in 2018 when she received a call that Red had contracted parvovirus.

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However, Red's veterinarian had a different diagnosis.

"She had a bruised trachea, and they think that her spinal cord was severed," Gregory said. "It wasn't a rabbit. It wasn't a squirrel. … We did have to put Red down."

When confronted about the deaths earlier this month, Camerlengo said she takes great care of the animals entrusted to her.

"They painted it to seem like I run a torture camp and that's not accurate at all," she told WPTV.

Chief Deputy John Budensiek told WPTV's Jamie Ostroff that Camerlengo has not answered the door or telephone, and a message on the website claims the business has permanently closed.

WATCH: Chief deputy provides update on Pawsitively Paradise investigation

Chief Deputy John Budensiek provides update on Pawsitively Paradise investigation

Budensiek said Camerlengo previously received six citations related to her business, but so far there's been "nothing to go on."

He said Camerlengo hasn't been cooperative with investigators and "allegedly begged the elderly folks who brought their dog to the facility not to contact law enforcement."

"In fact, Nikki wanted to bury the dog herself," Budensiek said.

Budensiek said he wanted other pet owners to be mindful before sending their animals to Pawsitively Paradise.

"This isn't normal," he said.