A Melkbosstrandwoman wants pet owners to think twice before leaving their animals in other people’s care after her prize dog suffered “irreversible trauma” at a posh pet hotel.
Ronel Vorster and her husband, Arno, booked their two Pekinese, Taro and Tara, in at @Frits Dog Hotel and Daycare Centre, in Cape Town CBD, when they flew to Johannesburg on Thursday September 14.
The Vorsters say that three days later, while they were on their way from the airport to fetch the dogs, one of the hotel staff members mistakenly shaved off Taro’s hair.
The owner of the hotel, Yanic Klue, admits to the mistake but says it was “human error”.
Taro was shaved bare save for some hair on his paws and head. The Vorsters were horrified as Taro’s coat was his best asset and earned him a prize at a dog show.
The hotel, in Castle Street, has a live camera feed so owners can check on their pets around the clock from any location.
The Vorsters paid R2 166 for the three-night stay for both dogs.
Ms Vorster said it would have been cheaper to fly them to Johannesburg, but she and Arno had wanted them to be comfortable.
Ms Vorster said she had noticed Taro had not been in the room while they had been driving from the airport, so they had called to ask where he was.
One of the staff had told the couple that a dog washer had taken Taro to the washing area instead of a Yorkie that had been booked for a shave.
“If the staff are so well trained, the washer would have noticed that the two are completely different breeds,” Ms Vorster said.
She had insisted they return Taro to his room immediately where they could see him on camera, but when he had returned, someone had “obstructed the view of the camera”.
Ms Vorster asked for a picture to be sent and saw that Taro was only shaved halfway through.
“We told them to leave Taro as is to avoid being traumatised further. He is a very sensitive dog and petrified of being washed or groomed. That is why we groom and bath him ourselves. But yet they went and cut him even more. We have the proof of the photo because we took a screen shot on my phone. But the staff member ignored us and just traumatised Taro further by cutting him more.
“I was told he was only half shaved and that they could not leave him like that. I knew that, and I was willing to cut him myself to save him further trauma,” she said.
Ms Vorster said since Taro had been shaved he had been having nightmares and did not want to eat, be touched or play.
“He is definitely not the same dog I left there that Thursday. Taro’s coat is cut very short, and he needs to wear a jersey to keep him warm. It takes a long time for a Pekinese’s hair to grow back, and the sun can be harmful for his skin.
“Pekinese is not a breed known to be cut, as the coat is their asset. To compete at shows, the coat may not be cut. All indications are that the top coat will never grow back to its original state. My dog’s future and competitiveness have been ruined for life.
“This is not classified as a mistake, it is plain stupidity and shows that they are incompetent and do not know much about different breeds,” she said.
Ms Vorster said she wanted to warn people to check the rules and regulations at dog hotels and daycare centres before booking their pets in. “Check on them regularly to make sure your dogs are okay and do not tolerate bad experience and service.”
Ms Klue said the hotel had tried to make amends after the incident. “We apologised and offered them a R3 000 gift card and flowers which her husband said they would not accept. It was a human error. We do not work with robots”.
However, Ms Vorster denied the hotel had offered flowers and a gift voucher to either herself or her husband. Those claims, she said, were “a blantant lie”.
“Flowers die in three days and Taro’s hair will only grow back in two years,” she said.