The Death of Molly and Steffie (May 2014)
Laurie Yaworski said she wanted to share her story following an incident at the Playful Paws Pet Center in Saskatoon last weekend when 14 dogs died in an overheated room.
"I feel that it is important that people are aware of what is happening at the [Dalriada] kennel," she said. "No one else should have to go through what I did."
Back in May 2014, she left her three dogs: Molly, Steffie, and Charlie, in the care of Dalriada Kennels; a pet boarding facility on an acreage near Salcoats, Saskatchewan.
"I came back to Yorkton and I phoned the kennel owner to inform her that I was back because her policy generally is to pick the dogs up and then bring them back to the owners," Yaworski said.
But when the kennel's owner Cathie Newans arrived, Yaworski knew something was wrong.
Yaworski said Newans was carrying Charlie. His stomach had been shaved, and her two other Yorkie-crosses, Molly and Steffie, were nowhere to be seen.
That's when the kennel's owner told Yaworski that there had been a fatal incident involving her pets and an unknown animal.
Yaworski was informed that her two female dogs died and were subsequently buried on the kennel's property in a blanket with their collars and harnesses. Newans had taken Charlie, the only survivor of the three, to the vet to tend to his injuries.
Cathie Newans says she took Charlie to the vet after he was attacked by an unknown animal while staying at her kennel. (Submitted by Laurie Yaworski)
"I came in the house and I remember just screaming… It was an awful, awful experience.
Yaworski asked for the bodies to be dug up and transported to the Melville Veterinary Clinic.
She said Steffy's body had made it to the clinic but not Molly's because there were only organs left of the dog following the attack.
"They were like children to me because I don't have any children," Yaworski said.
Yaworski ended up taking legal action against Newans, where a judge ordered the kennel owner to pay $4,000 in damages.
Newans told CBC News that the RCMP and the SPCA both came to her property to investigate the incident. Both of which, she said, found that she was not at fault and concluded that the deaths were an accident.
She said many safety features have been added to the kennel areas since. The upgrades included better quality fencing and cement borders around the facility where dogs are kept. Newans said she makes changes daily to improve the overall facility. She added that, now, when people come out to her kennel, she makes them aware of the deaths of Steffie and Molly.
But there is a death six months before Yaworski's dogs that Newans admits to not telling people about.
Davey's Death (November 2013)
Colleen Hoffort said her 11-year-old cockapoo, Davey, died while staying at Newan's kennel in November 2013. Her family had been using the kennel's services for a couple of years prior to the incident.
"When we came home on Sunday night, we gave [Newans] a call and arranged to pick him up. Her response was, 'No, I'll meet you at home,'" Hoffort said.
"We had no idea what was coming next."
Hoffort said Newans later arrived at their home without Davey.
Newans explained to Hoffort that she had a number of off-leash dogs out in her yard when an unknown stray approached the area. She said she tried to call them all back but Davey didn't listen and went to meet the strange dog. That's when the dog allegedly mauled Davey and carried him away.
Newans told Hoffort she managed to find Davey's lifeless body.
"She brought him back and she ended up burying him in her yard," Hoffort said. "We were in shock and disbelief. How can this happen? And it's just incredibly sad that a part of our family was now totally gone."
Newans said she takes full responsibility for Davey's death.
"I hadn't told people about [Davey] because that one was completely my control," she said. "I could have just not kept them on-leash and I didn't think it would have happened."
Newans said, following Davey's death, she no longer takes dogs for walks without a leash.
In 2011, Maria Romanow received a call from Newans telling her that her dog, Snooper, had been in a "tussle" with another dog.
Snooper was staying at Dalriada Kennels overnight for one day as Romanow headed to Saskatoon for an appointment. Romanow said she usually boarded Snooper at a different kennel.
The kennel owner said she noticed something was wrong when she went to check on the dogs that day.
"Snooper was not in a good state," Newans said. "She'd been dragged by another dog, a shepherd-cross that I was boarding, and I took her to the vet. I left there with the impression that she would be OK."
That's when Newans said she called Romanow and informed her that she brought Snooper to the vet.
Romanow thought her dog was going to be fine.
"She said to me, 'Don't worry — the dog is OK,'" Romanow said.
The next morning Romanow said she found out that Snooper had been taken to see a vet in Langenburg, Sask.
"I went to see my dog and I was in complete shock," she said. "She had bites all over her. One of her legs was completely raw."
Snooper the border collie / Australian huskie has since recovered from its injuries.
According to Newans, she's been operating her kennel under a business licence since 2008.
"In the RM of Saltcoats, you just go in and apply. You don't have to do anything. But there are very little rules and regulations for people who run a boarding kennel," Newans said.
Kaley Pugh, executive director of Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan, said the agency receives very few complaints in regards to boarding kennels, about one or two per year.
The group is responsible for animal cruelty investigations in the province excluding the cities of Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert or Moose Jaw.
She said APSS is not at liberty to discuss any complaints about Dalriada Kennels because charges have never been laid against the facility due to an investigation.
Pugh said, in Saskatchewan, the only regulations about operating kennels or boarding facilities are essentially that everyone in the province must abide by the Animal Protection Act, and then have a business licence or comply with any requirements regulating that activity from their city, town or municipality.
"There is no legislation or regulations that require operators to meet any particular standards," she said.
That's an issue that the other pet owners would like to see change.
"I would like to see some kind of a standard so then everyone would be accountable for their actions and places would be safe," said Hoffort.
Yaworski added that she would like to see some sort of criteria and licensing regulations in place that dog boarding kennels must follow for the safety of the animals.
"I feel they should also be given some type of penalty as a consequence of their actions, or be shut down, to stop these types of things from happening in the future."
Photos: Maria Romanow, Laurie Yaworski, Colleen Hoffort