EXCLUSIVE: Dog, employees suffered injuries at doggie day care site
Protesters outside of It's DogPlay
Randi Aweau's dog "Storm"
Les and Laura Sherrill
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
The day after a lawsuit that claimed the owners of a Kailua dog care facility tried to cover up the violent death of a dog in their care, Hawaii News Now reported that two employees of the facility suffered on-the-job dog bites within a few weeks of the dog's death.
About a dozen people held signs on the street leading to It's DogPlay in the Norfolk neighborhood of Kailua off old Kalanianaole Road Tuesday just after 7 a.m., when customers drop off their dogs for day care.
They handed out flyers and tried to convince them not to take their dogs there.
Les and Laura Sherrill were among the demonstrators. They have sued It's DogPlay, claiming the owners lied to them and instructed employees to lie about the violent death of their chihuahua Jojo there last June.
Randi Aweau of Kailua said she took her pit bull named Storm to the doggie day care site two to three times a week, until the dog showed signs of being scared when they arrived and came home with cuts.
"It was the lacerations on her body, it became more and more every day,” said Aweau, who organized the morning rally. “The kids were getting worried. Why does Storm have all these cuts on her? Why is she bleeding, look at her."
Vets at Kailua's Feather and Fur animal hospital said they have patched up several other dogs in the last six to eight months who suffered bite wounds, severe cuts and other injuries at It's DogPlay.
"When they get home and there's a laceration that they've discovered they weren't even told about, they bring the animals in and, sure enough, we've discovered deep tissue damage,” said Dr. Kirk Ayling of Feather and Fur. “More than just superficial scratches and bumps."
Former It's DogPlay employee Lisa Ponter said she was bitten last July at It's DogPlay while trying to break up a fight between two pit bulls, just a couple of weeks after Jojo died.
"There was nerve damage so they had to do a new incision on the inside," Ponter said.
Ponter said the dog bite broke her left hand. She said she received 30 stitches, underwent surgery to install a plate and six screws in her hand, and claims she racked up medical and therapy bills of about $30,000 for which she had no medical insurance.
She and her husband David, who both used to live at the facility, have filed a complaint against It's DogPlay, claiming owners Mirko and Mia Manfredi had no workers compensation insurance.
"They didn't carry workers comp insurance, which they are supposed to do by law,” David Ponter said.”They don't have it. And they're refusing to pay for any of her care."
A second former employee, Chris Seiple, told Hawaii News Now he was bitten in the face and arm by apit bulll at It's DogPlay last June just a few weeks before Jojo died there, requiring five stitches. Like the Ponters, Seiple has filed a workers compensation case against the doggie day care operation.
The Manfredis have declined comment because of the lawsuit. But Mia Manfredi said the Sherrills tried to “blackmail” them by asking for $50,000 in a demand letter sent to the Manfredis in August following their dog Jojo's death there.
“It's in the hands of the attorneys, therefore we cannot respond with a statement,” Mia Manfredi said in an email to Hawaii News Now Sunday night. “The real facts will come out then.”
The Sherrill's lawsuit said Mirko Manfredi lied to them when he claimed their four pound dog Jojo died a natural death while at the dog facility, when canine actually was picked up and shaken by a much larger Labrador. Manfredi told his employees to lie about what happened, the lawsuit said, something two former employees also told Hawaii News Now. Ayling, the veterinarian from Feather and Fur, determined in a necropsy that Jojo died a traumatic death by having his chest crushed.