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San Francisco Prime Paw dog training puppy death raises alarm


After a nine-week-old dachshund puppy died final week at a canine coaching faculty within the Mission, former staff have raised the alarm about poisonous employment practices and alleged poor security measures that led to 1 earlier demise on the faculty in 2022. 

The puppy’s proprietor contends her pup died after a bigger canine knocked into it, collapsing its lung. Veterinary data say the puppy’s reason behind demise was a collapsed lung however don’t elaborate additional on the trigger. Prime Paw, the canine faculty, maintains it doesn’t know what occurred and that it follows all greatest security practices.

Programs at Prime Paw can cost upward of $3,000, in response to the college’s web site, which payments itself as a “bustling canine coaching middle” that employs “science” in its strategies.

The varsity maintains that its staff are all correctly skilled and it abides by all business requirements. A number of on-line articles advocate the canine faculty, and previous to the accident final week, it boasted sturdy Yelp opinions.

However behind a manicured on-line presence, six former staff say that James Baybayan, the proprietor of Prime Paw, fostered a poisonous and hostile office by which staff had been overworked and undertrained.

Former staffers’ allegations in opposition to Baybayan embody:

Baybayan acknowledged the August 2022 accident however denied all different claims. He characterised the previous staffers as disgruntled ex-employees who had been insubordinate throughout their tenure at Prime Paw.

Chloé Skelly thought she did every thing proper. Simply weeks in the past, she picked up her new dachshund, Olive, and was shortly enamored. 

“Me, obsessed? By no means,” she wrote in an Instagram story alongside 15 pictures of Olive.

She learn opinions, checked along with her vet and requested a pal who despatched her personal puppy to Prime Paw. The consensus: It was secure to ship Olive to the college.

Skelly mentioned a staffer instructed her in a session that Olive would solely work together with puppies of the identical dimension and that she can be consistently monitored. Skelly mentioned these measures helped alleviate any issues she felt about leaving her pet with strangers.

Quickly after she dropped Olive off on Could 30, Skelly noticed a video on Prime Paw’s Instagram story that confirmed Olive with a big scratch on her again. She didn’t suppose a lot of it, however saved it simply in case.

Just some hours later, she received a name from a Prime Paw staffer, telling her to rush right down to the vet as there had been an accident with one other puppy.

Olive died earlier than she reached the vet. 

“Pale gums, no heartbeat, no pulses, and eyes dilated,” the official report from the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reads. The reason for demise: pneumothorax. In layman’s phrases, a collapsed lung.

Prime Paw and Baybayan mentioned the ability doesn’t have cameras in that space, and the staffer on the job didn’t witness the incident: She solely heard Olive yelp.

However Skelly mentioned when she arrived on the vet, the staffer instructed her Olive had been taking part in with a bigger bernedoodle, a cross between a Bernese and a poodle. A video on Prime Paw’s Instagram story earlier within the day reveals a bernedoodle puppy that seems bigger than Olive.

In an interview, Baybayan acknowledged that the bernedoodle weighed round 12 kilos to Olive’s 4, however contended that the bernedoodle’s breed, play model and previous conduct indicated it was secure to play with Olive.

He mentioned Prime Paw is reviewing the best way it matches its play companions.

“Primarily based on the willpower by the veterinarians who acquired Olive, there isn’t any identifiable cause for her demise,” Baybayan wrote in a press release to The Customary. “We pleasure ourselves on offering a secure, welcoming and safe surroundings for the dogs below our care, and Olive was provided that as properly.”

Prime Paw reimbursed Skelly round $7,500 for the cost of her puppy and coated the vet’s invoice. Baybayan additionally provided free lessons for her future dogs, Skelly mentioned, a suggestion she described as insulting. 

“You by no means anticipate to see a 9-week-old puppy that you simply simply dropped off lifeless on a desk,” Skelly mentioned. “It’s simply really terrible.”

She added that the incident was “straight negligence” on the a part of Prime Paw.

Three former staff confirmed the 2022 incident by which a canine jumped out of a shifting automobile to its demise. The Customary verified their employment by means of pay stubs. 

“I regarded in my blind spot simply in time to see him dangle, yelp and detach from the window,” mentioned Mads, the previous worker who was driving the car on the time. Mads didn’t need their final identify revealed for privateness causes.

Mads carried out CPR whereas one other worker drove them to the vet, the place the canine died.

The three ex-staffers mentioned that previous to the accident, they repeatedly requested Baybayan to put in window bars, crates, screens, tethers, or seat belts within the faculty’s vehicles. Mads mentioned they needed to open the home windows within the automobile as a result of it was scorching and the car didn’t have air-con.

Baybayan acknowledged the canine’s demise, however mentioned that staff requested him to put in bars within the home windows solely after the August, 2022 accident, and that previous to that, all of the autos adopted greatest security practices.

Tyler West, one of many three former staff, mentioned the college regularly transported dogs within the mattress of a pickup truck with out crates. He added that the window on one of many camper shells was damaged and wouldn’t shut, which allowed one canine to leap out of the mattress on a number of events though it didn’t get injured.

He mentioned he pleaded with Baybayan to buy extra crates to move the dogs in and at one level, even submitted a web based order for the crates. Baybayan canceled it, he mentioned.

“It was 100% preventable and so they performed it off as a freak accident,” West mentioned.

Baybayan denied {that a} canine ever jumped out of a truck mattress and that West ordered the crates, once more noting that Prime Paw adopted all greatest security practices.

“Tyler (West) was let go for insubordination,” Baybayan mentioned.

Baybayan mentioned that after the August, 2022 incident, Prime Paw enforced little one locks on automobile doorways, put bars within the home windows, reviewed the tethers that pinned down its crates and double checked its camper shells.

West disputed that he was fired for insubordination, saying that Baybayan as a substitute instructed him his division was overstaffed.

The third worker who spoke out, Reya Soto, mentioned she wasn’t stunned to listen to that one other canine died at Prime Paw.

Simply three months into her job, Soto was put accountable for a $3,200 course for adolescent dogs. However she mentioned she solely acquired one week of coaching, which consisted of shadowing an outgoing worker.

“She needed that job position,” Baybayan mentioned, including that Soto shadowed the outgoing worker for longer than per week and that he provided her one-on-one instruction. 

Soto acknowledged that, on the time, she didn’t notice how undertrained she was.

“We had been being promoted as well-trained—which a few of us had been—however a few of us had no thought what they had been doing,” mentioned Alexandria Jeremi, one other former worker.

Jeremi added that Baybayan had a acknowledged restrict of six puppies per worker, however staffers had been regularly pressured to deal with round 15 puppies at a time.

Baybayan denied Jeremi’s declare and mentioned Prime Paw staff solely ever deal with 5 puppies at a time per staffer.

“It’s humorous that she would even say that,” Baybayan mentioned.

A former worker who didn’t wish to be named as a result of she feared Baybayan would possibly retaliate in opposition to her, mentioned Prime Paw allowed dogs with a historical past of violence to remain in this system, endangering employees and different dogs.

In a single occasion, she mentioned a canine bit a staffer, drawing blood. She mentioned Baybayan chastised her for not correctly dealing with the canine. 

Baybayan denied that the canine bit a staffer and mentioned he would by no means chastise an worker for such an incident.

“I don’t have that in me,” he mentioned.

The previous staffer mentioned the canine had a historical past of attacking different dogs. She mentioned a number of employees members had instructed Baybayan that they didn’t really feel snug with the canine within the facility previous to the incident. However Baybayan shrugged off their issues and allowed the canine to return to the college after biting the staffer, she mentioned.

Baybayan acknowledged that staffers had introduced issues about aggressive dogs to him, however contended that each one really aggressive dogs had been confined to one-on-one coaching with correctly skilled staff.

In one other occasion, Soto mentioned that one canine attacked one other and left it “torn across the neck, blood uncovered, tendons and stuff.” The 2 dogs belonged to the identical proprietor, Soto mentioned.

West mentioned that previous to the attack, he had raised issues in regards to the canine with Baybayan. Baybayan mentioned he’d “deal with it,” West mentioned, however by no means did. 

Soto and Jeremi mentioned that after the incident, the canine was allowed to proceed coaching at Prime Paw. Soto mentioned she needed to plead with Baybayan to muzzle the canine. 

Baybayan mentioned that such an attack by no means occurred.

Six former staff instructed The Customary that Baybayan fostered a hostile work surroundings by which he regularly berated them publicly.

“He would get actually in folks’s faces,” Tyler West mentioned. “He’s performed that to me a pair occasions.”

Baybayan denied West’s declare, and partly blamed worker discontent on an out of doors consulting agency he introduced in to enhance Prime Paw’s effectivity. He mentioned the agency carried out a slew of modifications that stoked discontent among the many employees. 

Different staffers described Baybayan as short-fused and liable to outbursts. West alleged that in a single incident, Baybayan introduced a shopper to tears after berating her for failing to finish an at-home coaching task along with her canine.

Baybayan denied that such an incident occurred.

“I’d not in my lifetime berate one other shopper,” he mentioned. “It’s one in every of our core values: buyer satisfaction.”

In one other occasion, Soto mentioned that Baybayan gathered colleagues to chastise her for allegedly trying to stoke discontent among the many employees. 

Baybayan mentioned he addressed the difficulty with Soto one-on-one and acknowledged that he referred to as a workforce assembly, however denied that he referred to as her out by identify within the group setting.

“Reya (Soto) and Tyler (West) had been in a ship the place they type of knew every thing and needed to do issues their very own manner,” Baybayan mentioned.

“When he wasn’t working within the facility, it was nice—every thing ran easily,” Jeremi mentioned. “However when he was there, it was identical to a multitude. It was chaos.”

Skelly mentioned she nonetheless feels responsible for sending Olive to Prime Paw. However as time has gone on, she’s gotten extra indignant.

In interviews with The Customary, the previous staff mentioned not every thing at Prime Paw was dangerous. Soto famous she despatched her personal canine to the college and had no issues. Jeremi mentioned she believes Baybayan “has coronary heart.”

All of them mentioned they needed to talk out as a result of they believed purchasers ought to find out about it.

Baybayan famous {that a} viral Reddit thread that Skelly posted in regards to the incident has led many on the web to depart one-star opinions on Prime Paw’s Google and Yelp pages.

The Google web page was Prime Paw’s “lifeline,” he mentioned, including that Skelly’s anger is “very, very legitimate” however that he denies her characterization of him as “incompetent.”

“I actually hate the concept of anyone shedding their business due to this,” Skelly mentioned. “However your basic service is ensuring a canine doesn’t die. And my canine, 9 weeks old, didn’t make it previous the primary half day.”


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