East Bay family says beloved pet was killed in trainer's home

SAN RAMON, Calif. (KGO) -- A San Ramon woman says her beloved dog died in the care of a dog trainer while her family was on vacation. Their other dog is critically injured, and they say both were victims of an attack by the trainer's own dog.

Jane Cresswell wants the trainer to pay for the medical bills of the second dog, which have now reached $26,000.

Cresswell and her family were on a European vacation when she got word their beloved bichon poodle, Kenzie, died suddenly in the dog trainer's care. Her other dog, Dolly, suffered serious injuries, Cresswell said.

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Cresswell told ABC7 News she paid the trainer $2,000 to board and train Kenzie during the family's 18-day cruise.

On May 30, Cresswell said the trainer, Dawn Smith, brought Kenzie and Dolly to her home in Oakley. That is where Cresswell believes her dog died.

She said Smith, who owns Tri Valley East Bay Dog Trainer, initially told her Kenzie was killed by a pit bull during a walk.

Later, Cresswell said Smith admitted it was her dog who fatally mauled Kenzie and critically injured Dolly, who has gone through four surgeries, including a tracheotomy.

"She will never be the same," Cresswell said. "She has a gaping hole in her neck. When she drinks water, the water comes out of it."

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The cost for Dolly's medical treatment has gone through the roof, she said. Cresswell said Smith should be responsible for the $26,000 in bills.

But so far Cresswell has been unsuccessful in collecting.

Smith declined our request for an on-camera interview. Instead, she spoke to us on the phone.

Smith said what happened was an accident. She was out shopping, she said, when her dog must have escaped from his kennel at home just before the fatal incident.

She says she paid $1,500 when she took Dolly to the hospital, but that she does not have the money to pay for the dog's subsequent medical bills.

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"I was horrified at what happened," she said.

She added she's no longer in business and she has "no income to pay for those expenses." She said she's willing to work out a financial arrangement with Cresswell.

As to why she first said it was a pit bull that attacked the two dogs, she said she was afraid.

"I didn't know what to say," she said. "It was an emotional response."

Cresswell said she's getting ready to file a complaint with the State Attorney General's office and was shocked to find out dog training is largely an unregulated business.

It's not only about the money, Cresswell said, but more government oversight of the dog training industry so that what happened to her never happens to other dog owners.
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