CLINTON, Md. - The owners of a Clinton kennel are vigorously defending themselves against claims that they mistreated three dogs in their care.
Kayla Roman dropped her three dogs off at Axion Pet Resort last week after her family had an emergency and needed to relocate. When Roman came back a few days later to pick the dogs up, she was presented with only two of them. The third, Hugo, a cane corso, had escaped and was eventually found dead on the side of the road.
Roman claimed that her two surviving dogs, Sasha and Penny, were not well and had been mistreated during their stay.
The owners of the pet resort admit negligence on the part of two employees who were later fired, but they say the dogs were never mistreated.
John Fields, one of three co-owners at Axion Pet Resort, says that Hugo most likely manipulated the outside latch or climbed the gate. It is the kennel's protocol that no dogs spend the night in the outside cages, but Fields said the dog was being aggressive and the now-terminated employee was not able to get him inside.
Hugo was then able to escape through an opening in the back of the kennel, but the owners did not know right away because a second employee, who has also been fired, didn't check and didn't know that he was gone.
"We had fliers printed right away, right when we found out that he was missing, and we wanted everyone in the area to know," said Fields. "We also called all the animal shelters in the area."
Roman doesn't think the escape was an accident and thinks Hugo was deliberately killed and dumped.
"A lot of things don't add up," Roman said. "They just don't and I think maybe they are making up these excuses because they still have the public coming for them, but I'm not threatening them. Animal activists are."
A spokesperson for animal control says there is no evidence of foul play and it appears Hugo was hit by a car. The spokesperson also said that human error led to the dog's escape.
Fields told FOX 5 that the kennel feels terrible for the family and that they have done everything in their power to help them, including paying their veterinarian bills and even offering to get them a new dog.