WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — A dog owner said he blames the Life of Riley pet hotel in Adams Morgan for his dog’s death.

Jason Lindsay said his dog died after undergoing emergency surgery two hours after being picked up from the boarder on June 2, 2022.

According to Lindsay, he rushed his 15-year-old pug Toby to the Veterinary Emergency Group in Georgetown after noticing his pet was acting strange and had a massive wound on one leg.

“Literally, seven people were working to save my dog’s life, and through all their work, they could only stabilize him long enough for me to say goodbye,” Lindsay said.

“The way the vet explained to me, he had two injuries,” Lindsay stated. “He had a massive puncture wound in his leg that went all the way deep into his muscle, and then he had a traumatic brain injury.” Documents from the veterinarian back up the injuries Lindsay described.

He took his concerns and allegations to Humane Law Enforcement. The laws Lindsay believes have been broken by Life of Riley are animal neglect leading to death and failing to administer emergency care to his pet.

Humane Law Enforcement said the outcome of their investigation concluded that there was no animal cruelty. Its full statement is below:

As an organization dedicated to strengthening and celebrating the human-animal bond, we deeply empathize with the grief Mr. Lindsay is experiencing from the sudden loss of his beloved companion, Toby. We’d undoubtedly be searching for answers, too.  However, the forensic necropsy performed as part of our investigation “found no evidence of trauma.” The necropsy report resulted in two major findings that may have caused Toby’s health to decline:

  • “The most significant gross findings in this case are the lesions affecting the pancreas and intestinal tract.” The report further stated that these lesions “would result in motility abnormalities” and that “improper gastrointestinal motility can predispose animals to developing bacterial infections and/or toxemia.” In other words, lesions found on Toby’s pancreas and intestinal tract could have led to bacterial infections and/or some of these lesions possibly being cancerous.  Additional tests are pending that may provide more insight related to these conditions.
  • An additional finding was mild hydrocephalus, or a buildup of fluid in the brain. Per the report, “Hydrocephalus is commonly seen in some breeds, including brachycephalic breeds like pugs, and is often considered an incidental [finding].”
  • Regarding the wound on Toby’s arm, the necropsy stated: “There is an ulcerated skin lesion on the right elbow. The etiologic cause for the lesion cannot be determined based on gross evaluation alone but possible causes include, but are not limited to, local injury, pressure sore, self-trauma or combination of causes.”

As the agency charged with investigating and enforcing the District’s animal cruelty laws, we take all allegations of cruelty seriously, and we thoroughly investigate each case. In this case, our investigation has found no evidence to support a criminal act of animal cruelty occurred. The love we have for our animal family members can be like no other, and the loss tremendously profound. We are expressing sincerest condolences to Mr. Lindsay.

Lindsay said he does not understand why Humane Law Enforcement has not issued a warrant to release the video footage of his pet’s stay. He also wants a second opinion from an independent veterinarian.

“I can’t focus on the grieving aspect, because I’m having to focus on the legalities and the battle with the pet hotel,” he said.

Lindsay told DC News Now the Regional Operations Manager for Destination Pet, LLC, the group that owns Life of Riley, reached out to him following his original complaint, and agreed to reimburse Toby’s stay and his veterinarian bill. He said the manager also agreed to send him video footage of the days that Toby was boarded at the facility.

“Life of Riley originally said they were going to turn over all footage, but then after several versions changed, they said they weren’t going to give me any footage,” he explained.

In an email thread, the manager wrote to Lindsay: “There are steps that we have to take to ensure protection of our employees which is what is taking the additional time.” In that email, the manager also attached a legal settlement form for Lindsay. He refused to sign the form, but said the business still reimbursed him for the stay and his vet bill.

DC News Now reached out to Life of Riley several times with no response. That included stopping by the facility. The manager was not there, but we left our contact information.