Family: My dog was mauled to death at boarding facility

Family claims owner lied about cause of death

A family is demanding answers after their dog was killed in a pet boarding facility. They claim the owner of the facility lied to them about the way their Goldendoodle Molly died.

[WEB EXTRA: Questions you should get answered before you board your pet]

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has launched an investigation into the owner of the facility to see if she did anything criminally wrong. “I’m very mad at her.

She killed my dog,” said Gregory Taylor, referring to the owner of Paws and Claws Country Club Resort & Spa in Merritt Island. Taylor and Rachel Fitzpatrick said the last time they saw their 7-year-old Goldendoodle Molly alive was last fall.

It was the day they dropped Molly and their other dog, Shadow, off at the boarding facility. When they returned from their two-week trip overseas, they said they were shocked to find out Molly had died.

“She said that Molly must have died in her sleep, because she walked in the morning and Molly was dead,” said Fitzpatrick.

She claims Paws and Claws’ owner -- Kelli Jo Strabley -- told them Molly died of a brain aneurysm.

Taylor and Fitzpatrick said they were stunned because Molly seemed to be in perfect health. They said Strabley never called their emergency contact for the dogs, and they said she also ordered Molly’s cremation without their consent. They said they felt something wasn’t right, so they got a hold of the veterinarian Molly was taken to -- who told them they had been misinformed.

“Molly had been attacked by a pack of seven dogs and had been mauled to death,” said Fitzpatrick. “She even went as far to say that they couldn’t even find Molly’s trachea when they got there.”

News 6 received documentation from Veterinary Health Services, the veterinarian that examined Molly, providing a detail account of what their observations were and what happened to Molly.

“Molly was released into the yard and was attacked by a large group of approximately seven dogs... She had severe tears and trauma to her throat area and nape of her neck- cervical area and chest area- her neck vertebra was visible as well as her trachea (wind pipe)-- these injuries suggested a possible neck fracture and main point of impact of the attack. It took several hours to put Molly back together- fluids, pain meds, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics were administered. Molly survived the extensive surgery and into the next day- she passed in the morning.”

Fitzpatrick said she brought what she found out to Paws and Claws’ owner, and she said Strabley denied it.

“If Kelli was sitting here right now, what would you have to say to her?,” asked News 6 reporter Erik Sandoval. “I would say, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself. We put our dog in your care,” said Taylor.

News 6 went to Paws and Claws to get results for Molly's family and spoke to Strabley about what happened. "The owners say you lied to them, is that true?" asked Sandoval.

"No," said Strabley. "Did you tell them that another dog broke her trachea?" asked Sandoval. "No," said Strabley. "Don't you think that's an important part to tell the dog's owners? That the dog died in your care?" asked Sandoval. "I just wanted to tell them what was easiest, how I would want to take the news," said Strabley. Sandoval pressed Strabley about her story, asking her if the other dog owners knew what happened, and if it's happened before or since, but was asked to leave the property.

Wednesday afternoon, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office cited Strabley for the dog attack.

She will likely face a $100 fine.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.