Puppy dies while getting ears cleaned at vet

9:33 PM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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Lilly, a 10-week-old French bulldog, died suddenly while being treated at the Banfield Pet Hospital inside the PetSmart at 1540 N. Dale Mabry.


TAMPA, Fla. - Jan Holtz walks her dog, Leo, down a South Tampa sidewalk. They're good for each other. "Definitely heals the ache in your heart," says Holtz, tapping her chest.

You see, Holtz is still mourning the loss of her puppy, Lilly. The 10-week-old French bulldog died suddenly while being treated at the Banfield Pet Hospital inside the PetSmart at 1540 N. Dale Mabry.

"One minute healthy, the next vomiting blood," says Holtz.

Holtz says on February 7th she took Lilly in for a simple ear cleaning. She was strolling the store aisles, when she was paged to come back to the pet hospital and it wasn't long before the puppy was dead.

"Crying the whole time," says Holtz. "Here's my dog on life support, laying on the table and I'm like, 'What did you do?'"

Holtz had Banfield perform a necropsy, but she still doesn't know why or how Lilly died. "All I can assume is they strangled her, trying to hold her down trying to clean her ears," she says.

It's been nearly a month since Lilly died and Holtz is still waiting for compensation, an apology, and some answers to exactly what went wrong. "If I have to, I'll stand out in front of the store with a sign saying, 'You killed my dog," says Holtz. "I'm not going away."

While a spokesperson for Banfield would not go into details about what happened, the company issued this statement:

"Pets are a part of the family and we understand how hard it is to lose a pet-our thoughts go out to Ms. Holtz for the loss of her dog, Lilly. As a practice, we have policies and training procedures in place to ensure safety when restraining certain breeds, such as Bulldogs, which by nature of their anatomy, are at higher risk for respiratory complications when restrained. We are reviewing these policies and procedures to ensure this does not happen again. Despite this difficult situation, we are happy that we've come to an agreement with Ms. Holtz, and we are continuing our relationship with her by providing veterinary care for her new dog, Leo."

Holtz says she brought Leo to be neutered at Banfield because they offered free veterinary care, but she doesn't plan to return.

Hillsborough Animal Services is investigating the situation to see if there was any animal cruelty involved.

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