Should someone have to pay $2,400 for a dog that dies less than two weeks after bringing it home?
According to the management of the Petland store in Fairfax City: Yes.
According to Kevin Mulcahy and his girlfriend, Tiffany Lowe: No.
Mulcahy told Patch recently that the management of the Fairfax City Petland is suing the couple for the balance on a $2,400 bill for an 8-week-old Maltese puppy, Ty, even though Ty died of what appears to be multiple conditions including a respiratory infection and hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, caused by being too sick to eat.
Mulcahy says Ty showed signs of being sick less than 24 hours after being brought home despite Petland’s veterinarian giving the dog a “clean bill of health” before Mulcahy slapped down more than $1,000 for a deposit to buy him.
Sound familiar? That’s because it is.
Just last month, a local family purchased a puppy from the same Petland. That puppy, too, had been given a clean bill of health by the same veterinarian office - Potomac Valley Pet Hospital (PVPH) - that examined Ty. Yet, the family told local news outlets the puppy died of parvovirus, a deadly virus that attacks the animal's digestive system, just 36 hours after being brought home.
Mulcahy said he felt compelled to contact Patch with his story after reading that article.
What does Petland Fairfax City have to say about these two puppy deaths, which occurred less than three months apart?
Kareem Koshok, general manager of the store, said that in both cases the puppies died because the owners neglected to feed them enough.
Mulcahy said he has receipts that show he purchased food from Petland on at least two occasions during the 13 days he owned Ty.
Ty’s Short Life
When Ty the Maltese puppy started coughing and sneezing on May 17, the day after being brought home, Mulcahy said he called the store to speak to the manager, Koshok, whom he had dealt with to buy the puppy.
“The manager wasn’t in, so I was given his cell number. I called him and he told me I get one free vet visit when you buy a dog,” Mulcahy said.
“They kept giving me excuses – ‘he’s just getting used to his environment, and his new home,’” he added. “But he just wasn’t walking right, and wasn’t eating well.”
When Ty still seemed ill a few days later, Mulcahy took the day off work to take the dog to the vet Petland referred him to, which turned out to be the very same one who had given Ty the clean bill of health the day he purchased him - Potomac Valley Pet Hospital.
Mulcahy said the veterinarians at PVPH told him the dog appeared to have an upper- respiratory sinus infection and a hernia.
Mulcahy said the vet prescribed Ty 10 days of antibiotics and plenty of rest.
The next day, Mulcahy said he returned to Petland to ask the staff why Ty’s condition wasn’t caught in the examination before he was sold.
“They told me this is very common in small breeds and just to make sure he gets plenty of rest,” Mulcahy said. “They said at this age, all they do is eat and sleep.”
Mulcahy described the next several days as “a nightmare.”
Ty continued to get worse. Mulcahy said he was forced to take several days off work, during which time he called and visited both Petland and PVPH repeatedly to try to figure out how to get Ty healthy again.
At one point, following the advice of the Petland staff, Mulcahy and Lowe said they even tried feeding the puppy wet baby food through a syringe or on the tip of their fingers. Ty’s health only got worse.
“I let them know it’s not right that a newborn puppy is nine weeks old and weighs only 2½ pounds and has to be on antibiotics for 10 days,” Mulcahy said.
By Tuesday morning, May 28, after staying home to care for Ty the entire three-day Memorial Day weekend, Mulcahy said he took another day off of work to take Ty back to the vet.
“I explained what I had been told by Petland’s management and store employees, and I could tell by the doctor’s expression he wasn’t pleased,” Mulcahy recounted. “[The doctor told me] he believes Ty has hypoglycemia, and proceeded to inject him in the neck four times with a glucose serum, and then told me he’d like to keep Ty overnight, which I agreed to.”
When Mulcahy called that day at 4 p.m. to check on Ty, he said the doctor told him Ty seemed to be responding well to their treatment and was lifting his head.
The next time Mulcahy heard from the vet, it was to tell him Ty had died in their offices overnight.
Mulcahy said he and Lowe “took a day to grieve over their loss,” and then returned to Petland to inform the staff of what had happened.
“They seemed not to know us at that point,” Mulcahy said.
When Mulcahy asked what would be done about their loss – such as, if he would be given a refund for the $1,314.90 he had paid thus far toward the $2,400 price of the dog – he said he was given a phone number for Petland’s insurance company to contact in the case of the loss of a pet.
Mulcahy said he contacted Pawsitive Solutions, the insurance company, and told them what had happened. He was told the company would investigate and call him back.
Mulcahy said that, initially, Pawsitive Solutions called him back and said that Ty’s cause of death was hypoglycemia, and therefore Petland would not refund the $1,314.90 he had paid thus far. However, the store would waive the remaining balance he owed.
In other words, Mulcahy said, Petland was trying to claim Ty had died from low blood sugar due to he and his girlfriend not feeding him.
“I told them that was unacceptable, and asked them who had told them that was the cause of death,” Mulcahy told Patch, since the dog had originally been diagnosed with an upper sinus respiratory infection and hernia.
Mulcahy said a battle then ensued. Pawsitive Solutions said they would confer with Petland’s owners over Mulcahy’s account of the situation, and would call him back again.
On June 6, Mulcahy said, he was contacted again by the insurance company to say that Petland still refused to refund any of his deposit. Mulcahy said he then informed them he planned to pursue legal action for a refund of his deposit.
Mulcahy said Petland then revoked their prior promise that they would waive the balance Mulcahy owed. Mulcahy said the general manager, Kareem Koshok, then text messaged him “See you in court,” and filed a suit against him for the balance of the $2,400 price.
Mulcahy said he received a call from Pawsitive Solutions a few days after that asking him how he was enjoying his new puppy.
Mulcahy said he was outraged, and at that point asked for written confirmation that Petland had originally agreed to waive his balance after Ty died.
He said Pawsitive Solutions apologized for the erroneous call about enjoying the puppy, blaming it on a auto-generated computer error, and then proceeded to deny their previous conversation.
Mulcahy said they told him that, according to their computer files, Pawsitive Solutions never told him that Petland would waive his balance, only that they had agreed to a 50 percent discount off any new puppy he might wish to purchase.
Petland Manager’s Account of the Situation
Patch contacted Kareem Koshok, the manager of the Fairfax City Petland, to ask for his comment over Mulcahy and Lowe’s story about Ty the puppy.
Koshok disputed all of Mulcahy’s claims, saying that Ty had simply died because Mulcahy and Lowe refused to feed him. He said his impression was that Mulcahy had bought the dog for his girlfriend and that the two were not around to give a puppy like Ty the care it needs.
In response, Mulcahy said Lowe, his girlfriend, is a full-time stay-at-home mom and was home with Ty all day during the 13 days he was alive, much of which he was there for as well.
“He killed that dog,” Koshok insisted. “He neglected him, and he killed him.”
When Patch asked Koshok about the other case in the media recently, of the family whose dog reportedly died of parvovirus after 36 hours, he said that case was the same – the family didn’t buy the dog any food, leading him to believe they had neglected to feed it.
Koshok said he had recommended that Mulcahy and Lowe buy Ty food from his store but that they had not, leading him to believe they also never fed their dog.
In response, Mulcahy said he had receipts for at least two purchases of food - the “starter kit” Petland recommended he buy on the day he took Ty home, which included food, and the wet baby food they recommended he try when Ty was having trouble eating due to his illness.
Koshok also denied any of the contact Mulcahy detailed, such as the phone calls, text messages and repeat visits to the store asking for advice about Ty’s condition.
“I would have helped him, if he had called me,” Koshok said. “But, he bought the dog, and then the next time I heard from him, it was to tell me that the dog was dead.”
Mulcahy said that he had text messages between him and Koshok saved on his phone.
Mulcahy provided Patch with screenshots of the saved text messages, which are included in the photos section of this article. Note: Koshok’s phone number was cropped out of the screenshots by Patch.
The Nightmare Continues In Court
Mulcahy said there are now court cases on both sides of the situation.
Petland is suing Mulcahy and Lowe in Fairfax County civil court for $1,732.46, which equals the $1,150 balance they owe on Ty’s purchase price of $2,400, plus interest and attorney’s fees.
Mulcahy is countersuing for $3682.33, which includes the $1,314.90 deposit he paid the day he and Lowe purchased Ty, plus Ty’s registration, veterinary bills to the Potomac Valley Pet Hospital, and supplies, as well as lost wages for taking time off work to care for Ty when he was sick.
Mulcahy said they have already appeared in court a couple of times for preliminary purposes, and a hearing is now scheduled for next week on Oct. 9.
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