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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Protesters gather after Seattle dog day care fire, pet deaths

By Lauren Girgis Seattle Times

SEATTLE – About 50 people gathered Saturday to protest the Dog Resort’s continued operations after the doggy day care’s Sodo location caught fire earlier in the week, leading to the death of two dogs and the injury of another.

The protesters gathered outside a building on Elliott Avenue in Seattle that’s now home to dozens of dogs whose owners remain out of town after the boarding facility caught fire. Two dogs were hit and killed by cars after they got loose while firefighters battled the blaze. Another, who had been missing for days, was found nearly 3 miles north of the pet boarding facility. The 4-year-old spotted mix, Remi, was taken to an emergency care clinic and was later released.

Johanna Gotz, who organized the protest, said the primary goal was to hold the owner of the Dog Resort accountable.

“None of this should have ever happened,” she said.

Gotz, a dog sitter and dog walker, organized with other people working in the dog care industry. She questioned the Dog Resort’s safety plan after the company’s other location, in Lake City, caught fire in February.

“You have a fire at one location, you move everybody to another location, but then you don’t have a concrete fire safety plan,” she said.

The owner of the Dog Resort, Mona Elassiouti, said the facility’s evacuation plan was effective but some of the dogs escaped because “the fire department opened (the) parking lot gating while evacuating the last few dogs.”

Gotz said the owner is “trying to blame the firefighters.” She also said she has spoken with former employees of the Dog Resort, who said they weren’t treated well during their time there.

In response to organizer’s claims that she mistreated former employees, Elassiouti said many of them “couldn’t take care of dogs correctly” and were fired.

“The one thing I’m trying to do while all of this stuff is going on is get these dogs in a safe place … and my staff taken care of,” Elassiouti said.

The building on Elliott Avenue where the protest took place was formerly home to the Downtown Dog Lounge. The lounge took in dozens of dogs at its South Lake Union location after the fire Monday, and moved them the next day to the old building, which it still owns, owner Elise Vincentini said.

Downtown Dog Lounge is unaffiliated with the Dog Resort, and Vincentini said Saturday she felt the protest might cause confusion because Downtown Dog Lounge’s branding is still on the building.

“My only intention is to take care of the dogs. I think (the protest) would have been better served at a different location,” Vincentini said.

In the long-term, Gotz said she hopes regulations are put in place.

“Child day cares have really strict regulations,” Gotz said. “… (dogs) need to be protected just like our human children.”