Thursday, March 6, 2008

Washington Vet Loses Bambee, the Italian Greyhound: She is Later Found Dead in a Field

Like many families, to the Lind's, their dog Bambee was more than a pet -- she was a member of the family. The Lind's purchased Bambee, an Italian Greyhound, from a breeder in Salem Oregon in 2005. As told by well-known animal lawyer Adam Karp: "They . . . instantly fell in love with her. Although Mr. Lind cared for dogs throughout his life, he never had a dog that responded to him like Bambee. . . . [Bambee] slept on their pillow in bed almost every night."

The Linds, who ran concessions, travelled regionally for work. They took Bambee with them, getting rooms at pet-friendly motels so that Bambee could be with them. They arranged their schedules so that one of them would be at the hotel with Bambee while the other was working.

One night, however, both the Linds needed to attend an important work-related event. So, for one night, they arranged to board Bambee at Airport West Animal Clinic in Yakima, Washington, where she had previously been seen. Although they had other options (a friend willing to watch Bambee) they thought that Bambee would be safer in the hands of professionals. s

Ten-pound Bambee was very nervous and skittish. According to Karp:

"Former employee Heidi Billings notes that Bambee was 'extremely skittish' at the time she removed her from the cage, and that though she asked co-worker Katie Bombard whether she should leash walk Bambee in the outside enclosure, Ms. Bombard responded in the negative, saying it was 'no big deal.' Ms. Billings was unable to capture Bambee who, predictably, avoided her when approached and escaped through a 3-inch opening in the space of a few seconds."

This occured in spite of the fact that:

  • A few weeks earlier a client had warned the clinic that this opening posed a risk for the escape of her small dog -- a chihuahua -- and instructed the staff to walk her pet on a leash at all times.
  • It was reportedly the practice at the clinic to use a leash with animals who were skittish and small, but this was not done on that day with Bambee
The Linds began a frantic search for Bambee that lasted nearly a week. In the local newspaper, Mr. Lind was quoted as saying "I'm desperate. I love this dog." The Linds even hired International K-9 Search and Rescue Services.

Sadly, "Bambee was found frozen and half-eaten in a field near the clinic. Describing what Mr. Lind saw when he was called to the scene where Bambee had been found, Karp says: "Bambee lay deceased in the field with her insides eaten out. She was still wearing the sweater the Linds had given her. She had no collar, harness, or leash on. "

Reportedly, when Lind went with Bambee's body to Airport West Animal Clinic, to show them what had become of her: "Dr. Erika Kieser allegedly coldly refused to come out, remarking that she had seen dead dogs before."

The Lind's expert witness in their lawsuit against Airport West said that the clinic had violated the standard of care for a boarding facility in several respects. One of these respects was the failure to create proper perimeter fencing for small breeds, such as the Italian Greyhound. She testified that a run or enclosure appropriate for small dogs would have no opening larger than 1 inch. The 3-inch opening in the fence was clearly large enough for a small dog to get through.

Ultimately, the Linds were awarded $6,722.50 plus costs of $650. $5,000 of the award was for the "intrinsic value" of Bambee.

But of course, no amount of money will make the loss of Bambee OK.

Rest in peace, Bambee.

As for Airport West Animal Clinic, the question their current and future clients should ask themselves is: If they were this careless once, is that a way of doing business there? How do you know they aren't equally careless in dozens of other ways?

Beware. And Be Aware.