May 19, 2024

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Dogs who died in District Dogs flood kept in bottom kennels

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Rescue swimmers say they were able to evacuate six employees and 20 dogs, but as water receded, they discovered the dead canines.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — D.C. Fire and EMS has confirmed that the ten dogs that died inside of District Dogs during a flash flood were being held in the lower level kennels. 

According to rescuers, swimmers were able to evacuate six employees and 20 dogs, but as water receded, they discovered the dead canines. 

The owners of the dogs that died during the Aug. 14 flood had speculated that their dogs were caged in alphabetical order at the time.

“When I called the Humane Rescue Society, where her body was, and I asked would it be appropriate to go see her body, they said no because there was a lot of blood. She was really injured and she was struggling,” Jonathan Garro told reporters.  His dog Malee, a rescue from Thailand, was among the pets that did not make it. 

Screenshots of surveillance video obtained by WUSA9 show that the window facing Rhode Island Avenue Northeast had given out before 5:00 p.m.

By 5:01 p.m., another screenshot shows water quickly rising in what is described as the employee breakroom.

At the same time, the water levels inside the boarding room climbed half-way up the double decker cages.  Sources tell WUSA9 that there were dogs inside the kennels.

The D.C. Office of Unified Communication (OUC) says the first 911 call was made at 5:06 p.m. The caller identified herself as the District Dogs manager who was watching surveillance video of what was happening inside the business from her home in Montgomery County. “It’s flooding horribly. The walls gave out,” the manager told the call-taker, according to the OUC transcripts. 

“The area floods so bad all the time. It broke the wall. The whole building is going under water right now,” the caller added.

Three minutes after the initial 911 call, the assistant manager of District Dogs called from Prince George’s County, according to OUC. At 5:09 p.m., the caller tells the OUC call-taker that she is also watching a camera and that there are people and animals inside. 

“The whole place it looks like a swimming pool right now. It’s like the third, fourth, time we flooded. This time it’s terrible,” she said.

At 5:10 p.m., a dispatcher is heard in a radio clip calling the incident a water leak. “Public assistance at the District Dogs at 680 Rhode Island Avenue Northeast for a water leak.”

In a closed door session, OUC Director Heather McGaffin said the dispatcher misspoke but did not call it a mistake.

ANC Commissioner Colleen Costello, who lost her dog, called the response unacceptable. “I don’t think she needs to admit it, because we all know it. It’s clear she is not going to admit culpability,” Costello told WUSA9 after the release of the transcripts. 

Six minutes after making the initial emergency call, OUC says the manager of District Dogs called again at 5:12 p.m. to tell the call-taker that the dogs are in the back of the business. 

At 5:18 p.m., the first call was made from inside District Dogs. 

“We are trapped in water that is above our heads. There are six people trapped in the water and we have no way out,” the caller said. 

Later in the call, the person inside tells the OUC call-taker, “We have a man in the water who can’t hold on to anything and we haven’t heard anything back from him in a while. We’re afraid he might not be with us anymore.”

By 5:20 p.m., D.C. Fire and EMS who were already on the scene responding to the stranded motorists underneath the Rhode Island Avenue underpass, identified the situation at District Dogs, according to a timeline provided by D.C. officials. 

Dispatchers finally notified rescuers of the incident at the canine care center and requested help at 5:22 p.m., according to the OUC Director. 

Twenty-three minutes after the initial emergency call was made, rescuers confirmed that they had entered the building by 5:29 p.m. 

Ward five Councilmember Zachary Parker who has launched an investigation into the incident says the findings of his probe will be released by the end of the week. 

2023-08-22 22:21:45

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