St. Charles County investigating 5-month-old puppy’s death


ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – St. Charles County Public Health Department officials are investigating the death of a puppy after staying at a kennel.

The Baldwin family dropped off 5-month-old George, a golden retriever puppy, at Westinn Kennels before they went on vacation to Gulf Shores. When they picked him up nine days later, he wasn’t acting himself, so they took him to the vet, according to the family.

“We dropped him off, went on our vacation, didn’t think anything of it,” said Jona Baldwin, George’s owner. “He was just a typical 5-month-old puppy he didn’t deserve this.”

Kevin West, owner of Westinn Kennels, said reports show George was acting normal for the first eight days while staying at the facility. However, on the ninth day of his stay, it was reported that the puppy had regurgitated some food.

“We want to know what happened to George as much as his parents do,” West said.

“When an incident occurs, a non-emergency incident, like a first regurgitation, it is noted on their tracking form and they are observed for a period of six hours. In this case, dad picked up within that observation period, so further steps were not taken.”

Records provided from Westinn Kennels show George ate all of his food from June 13-21. The tracking form used at the kennel said, “6/22 – threw up food/bile ~ 1:00 pm, tired for rest of day.”

Baldwin said when her husband picked George up from Westinn Kennels, he was told he had thrown up earlier in the day.

Then, there are two accounts of how George was acting when he left the facility.

“I have statements that say when the dog came out he was definitely what they would consider ‘acting like a sleepy puppy,’ but wagging his tail, accepting friendly pets from the staff,” West said.

According to Baldwin, the family had to carry George out of their truck.

“He just laid in the front yard,” he said. “Not like a normal 5-month-old golden retriever would be happy to be home, and seeing us and the boys. He couldn’t even lift his head.”

Baldwin added that George threw up again in the car and they took him to a vet where he was transferred to an emergency pet hospital.

“All of this much was just too much to process,” Baldwin said.

Vet records from the animal hospital that Baldwin shared with Fox 2 show George was diagnosed with “pneumonia, likely secondary to aspiration.”

“He was on the highest level of oxygen that they could have him on in an oxygen tank from Tuesday evening to Saturday,” Baldwin said.

“They were finally able to ween him off of the oxygen, he seemed to be doing alright, so still they said it would be two to three weeks of recovery at home, but they were going to send him home with medicine and so we went and picked him up on Saturday,” Baldwin said.

The records also show George was given antibiotics when he was discharged that he should continue for at least two weeks, and then follow up with his vet to recheck the chest x-rays. 

But, he didn’t make it that far. 

“He died about an hour and a half to two hours later in my husband’s arms in our living room,” Baldwin said. “He was gone.”

West said he is not always at the facility, so he doesn’t always know what happens there, however, he trusts his staff.

“There is nothing that points to the mishandling of George,” he said.

St. Charles County Public Health Department said it is aware of the incident and it is investigating by doing interviews and gathering facts. The department said it is the first time investigating an incident at this facility.

“We don’t want another animal to lose their life,” Baldwin said. “They can’t speak for themselves, we need to speak for them. We don’t want that to happen again and so that’s what we’re doing.”

Baldwin said George was up-to-date on his shots. West said the kennel checks to make sure dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinations before they go to the facility.

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