The owner of a four-year-old black Labrador Retriever is speaking out after his dog's week-long stay at PetSmart resulted in it falling ill and dying.

Coret Dixon, 23, left his dog Aspen at a PetSmart in Etobicoke, Ont. while he was on a trip in a cottage in Muskoka. Upon returning a week later to pick her up, Dixon said Aspen was extremely sick, having lost as much as 20 pounds from vomiting.

Dixon says Aspen suffered from severe pneumonia that made it impossible for her to breathe while at the pet hotel.

"We know that she was sick in PetSmart's care, we know that much. And that they didn't bother to call the vet when she should have been seen a lot earlier," said Dixon. "If she'd seen the vet when she started showing signs of being sick, maybe she would have had a better chance."

Dixon and his family took Aspen to an emergency vet immediately after picking her up from PetSmart, but despite their efforts, they were unable to treat her and she had to be put down.

PetSmart, on the other hand, says the dog's death was more likely caused by an underlying condition called Myasthenia gravis, which affects the skeletal muscles and can stop breathing.

Erin Gray, a spokesperson for PetSmart, said at least one veterinarian who examined Aspen "reported the cause of death as a pre-existing autoimmune disease ... completely unrelated to Aspen's stay at PetSmart."

"Our initial findings indicate that our associates followed all policies and procedures."

PetSmart gave Dixon $5,000 to help with veterinarian expenses. While he appreciates the gesture, he still does not understand why the staff did not react to Aspen's distress earlier.

Aspen was Dixon's service dog for only a short while, but had already saved him on multiple occassions during their time together. Dixon has a heart condition that causes him to become unconscious at any give moment, and Aspen had the duty of alerting people nearby whenever he had an episode.

She was so much more than just a dog to me," Dixon said mournfully.

Source: CBC



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