Two Houston families are grieving the loss of their precious dogs after leaving them at the same boarding facility during the same week.
Both families are pointing the finger at City Canine on Saxon Drive in northwest Houston.
Carissa and Robert Wojehowski told KHOU 11 News when they returned from a family vacation, they were told their German Shepherd had escaped from City Canine through a fence.
But the couple believes they were lied to and that their dog named Luxor is actually dead.
The Wojehowskis said they received a call from a man claiming to be a former employee at City Canine. The caller shattered what little hope they had left.
“The person who called us said he had seen our dog dead in a crate a few days before and let us know that the owner went out after and tore up the fence to fabricate a story that our dog had gotten out,” said Robert Wojehowski.
The Wojehowskis have been leaving their dog Luxor at the facility since he was a puppy, for about three-and-a-half years.
They said they never saw any indication that something like this could happen.
“You have a job to board dogs. You watch dogs. That is what you do. How did this happen to, not just one, but two?” questioned Carissa Wojehowski.
Their nightmare began when Carissa went to pick up the dog on July 9th after a week-long vacation in Colorado.
“I got out of the car, and the owner is standing there and just looked at me and said, ‘By the way, Luxe got out,’” recalled Carissa. “I asked him, ‘When did this happen? What do you mean, he’s gone?’ He’s like, ‘Oh, it happened maybe an hour before you got here.”
Robert rushed to the facility to help search for the missing dog.
The couple claims the owners helped them search at first, but then everything changed.
“They just went dark on us and cut off all communication like it never happened,” said Carissa.
Carissa and Robert said they searched frantically for two weeks and posted fliers everywhere, offering a $2,000 reward.
The Wojehowskis said the man claiming to be the former employee called them around the two-week mark.
“The owner looked at us in the eye and let us know that our dog escaped, knowing that was most likely a lie,” said Robert. “Watching us day after day, week after week, calling his name, knocking on doors, handing out fliers.”
The couple has been in touch with the other pet owner who claims his dog died while in the care of City Canine.
That pet owner filed a report with Houston Police on July 10 after his English bulldog died at City Canine. According to a Houston Police spokesman, that owner said he was taking his dog to Texas A&M for a necropsy.
HPD said their report states the results came back as “inconclusive” and that investigators would need proof that something criminal happened to press charges.
KHOU 11 News went to get answers from the two owners of City Canine.
They claimed to their knowledge Luxor is still alive and said they were still searching for him.
The owners said the only similarity between the two cases is the “timing” in which they happened. They declined further comment on Wednesday but released the following statement on Thursday:
"CityCanine wishes to express our deepest sympathies and regrets for the loss of the dogs mentioned in your recent news story.
We train about five hundred dogs every year, and have been in operation for over ten years. We have never had a situation like this occur...needless to say, it has shaken us to our foundation. that said, there are several factual errors in your report that need to be set straight. First, and most importantly, the death of Phil (the English Bulldog) was through no fault on our part.
Phil was brought to us for boarding; we were instructed to keep him active as he was quite obese. (The breed standard for English Bulldogs is 50 pounds. Phil weighed in at 66 pounds.) Phil was not a puppy: he was a 3-4 year old under-exercised, over-weight adult dog. The necropsy report done by the vets at A&M found cause of death to be inclusive...certainly, there was no finding of dehydration or heat exhaustion.
With respect to Luxor, as far as we know, he is alive somewhere in our neighborhood. We continue to search for him, but locating him has been complicated by the fact that his owners hadn't microchipped him. Rob and Carissa have been long-time clients; in fact, we were asked by them to be put in their wills to care for Luxor if anything were to happen to them. The fact that such a long-term relationship with such good clients has come to this is crushing to us.
These events have prompted several changes here at CityCanine: first, any English Bulldog, Pug, or French Bulldog that comes here must have a vet's release. Second: ALL dogs must be chipped. Some parties, it would seem, are trying hard to sensationalize this situation. The situation is not sensational: it's tragic. And we are determined that it doesn't happen again."