Owners of dogs lost in St. Lazare fire seeking legal counsel

Some of the families mourning the loss of their pets in a kennel fire last Saturday are seeking legal advice.

Eighteen dogs died of asphyxiation when the Family K9 kennel erupted in flames. 

The families say the owners shouldn't have left the dogs unattended.

Michel Cohen is among the critics. On Thursday, he was still in the Dominican Republic with his wife and three sons, but says he has been in touch with other families who also lost their pets.

Cohen and some others have already hired a lawyer. And although he is still grieving for the loss of his four-year-old goldendoodle Dexter, he is also trying to figure out how and why those dogs died.

"We have to make sure something like this never happens again," he says. "Because there are 17 other families going through what we're going through right. We have to understand all the facts first, and we'll act accordingly as a result of our findings."

Cohen says he never would have left his dog at the kennel if he didn't think they'd be supervised constantly. 

The kennel's owner Nick Zevgolis was also distraught, although he says he never claimed he'd be able to always be on site. 

But he says he understands his clients' grief and anger.

"It's incomprehensible for me," he says through tears. "So I can only imagine what it's like for them."

Photo courtesy CTV

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  1. Agi Szabo posted on 01/02/2014 03:21 PM
    Did you hear about Pet Friends generous act of compassion...

    Pet Friends Inc - Pet Friends Funeral Services located at 196 Valois in Vaudreuil-Dorion has opened their doors to all of the families who have lost their pet in the tragic fire at Family K9 Kennels, on December 28, 2013.

    Pet Friends has offered their services for no cost to the families. Instead, they requested that the families give a donation to Gerdy's Rescue in the memory of their family's dog. Out of an overwhelming loss there must be a positive; a donation given in their dog's name, will give hope to an abandoned dog at Gerdy's Rescue. A truly lasting tribute.
    1. Abbie posted on 01/03/2014 01:39 PM
      @Agi Szabo Pet Friends, (Averill) is a very special lady.
      She helped us grieve through the loss about 25 years ago, for our dog
      Spot who died suddenly. She gave my son, who was 10 years old at the time, a dog angel pendent to carry with him.
      He used to carry it to school with him.

      Her love, kindness and understanding helped us heal.

      There is that special pet that becomes a part of a family, it is quite difficult to explain to others.
    2. Carol Waterman posted on 01/03/2014 02:00 PM
      @Agi Szabo Yes, I did read about this most generous offer from Pet Friends.

      To date, 3 of my pets have been cremated by Pet Friends.

      To learn more check out Gerdy's Rescues & Adoptions on Facebook.
  2. Virginia posted on 01/02/2014 03:59 PM
    I am very sorry to all the families who lost their beloved dog. It's heart breaking. But anyone who has dealt with nick know this: he absolutely adores all the dogs he takes care of and he is not home 24/7, since he is often training other dogs. It says so right on his website. While I understand the sadness, blaming nick or questioning his where abouts does absolutely nothing.
  3. Ronnie posted on 01/03/2014 09:25 AM
    I know Nick, he worked with my dog. He's a great guy, a really nice person. What happened is a terrible tragic loss for all concerned. It was an accident. Nick is going through hell too.
  4. Carol Waterman posted on 01/03/2014 02:07 PM
    This was a terrible accident and Nick Zevgolis should not be crucified!! It could happen to anyone!! At first I had a knee-jerk reaction when I read that he went to a Xmas party, leaving the dogs alone. I did blame Nick and thought someone should have been there 24/7. But I looked in the mirror and if anyone was guilty of leaving their pets alone, it was ME. I have 2 big dogs & 3 cats. Before I go out, I always check that the house is safe, ensuring all stove burners are off, etc. But God forbid, something should happen to my electrical wiring in the house!! Forget about having a pet door. My beloved pets would run out and freeze to death or get killed on the highway. If I was fortunate enough to have a pet sitter (as I did in the past), that's what I would do.

    I think it should be mandatory to have someone in boarding facilities, shelters and vets 24/7. I understand that it would cost more to have this 24hr. care, but as a pet owner, I would be willing to pay to ensure my pet is safe.

    If you don't know Nick check out his videos on U-Tube (as I did). He certainly appears to be a kind-hearted man and NOT abusive to animals!! So before you blame this man, please look in the mirror and judge yourself. Do not destroy a person who has worked so hard to build up his GOOD reputation. Instead, give him your support. One day, you might need it!! Thank You.
  5. The parents of Cody and Cooper Cohen posted on 01/03/2014 08:45 PM
    I have been training my dogs with Nick since he started out his business. Nick cares more about his dogs then anyone I know. He would never do anything for to harm any dog! Nick is going through hell! He is living a nightmare! I can't comprehend what he is going through or how he made all those phone calls. Anyone knows that dogs are not watched 24/7 even in our own homes. The dogs were in their crates safe and not running around. This was strictly an accident and I will be the first one to stand up on behalf of Nick and support him!
  6. Wendy Chernabrow posted on 01/06/2014 06:56 PM
    My family, friends & I have been blessed to know Averil through Baker's Animal Hospital, albeit due to losing beloved pets. I have been an animal lover my entire life, & have dealt with Baker's for almost 40 years now. It is terrible to lose a beloved furry family member with no choice as to keeping the remains,in prior times. Quebec lags so far behind in anything good for animal rights. Since 1992, I have looked to Averil for support,guidance,caring,& have all my furbabies' remains here at home with us. I cannot tell you the comfort it brings myself, in particular.

    I am now a grandmother, & my son,his wife & my grand-daughter called upon Averil when they had to send their Hercules, a Rottie, to the Rainbow Bridge. All our pets, save one dog, our Samoyed, were/are rescues. She did not have the honour of being able to be with my other furbabies, as Averil's services were not available here yet. Everyone we know, who loves & cherishes their pets, are so grateful for what Averil does, so kindly. This is much needed. I am also most aware of Gerdy's missions, & it is a great one. Baker's always has her information in view I have seen her there often.

    Please consider taking Averil's sincere offer........it is a gift from her soul to help other animals.I also would like to mention two outstanding veterinarians, Dr. H. Lubbert, who no longer practises, & Dr. Donald Floyd, an Angel among veterinarians, as well as an Angel among we humans.

    The terrible grief these families with their young children is unimaginable.Unless I was assured my family member was attended 24 hours, even just having a sitter paid for a few hours, to keep watch, I would never, ever permit a pet to be boarded if left alone. ANYTHING could happen, alas. Volunteers would probably be willing to do so, particularly during the holidays. This is so very sad, my prayers go out to all the families,their pets, crossed over needlessly, only an animal lover would understand. Trust is a precious commodity.

    My beloved younger brother passed this year, under tragic circumstances,& a valiant fight, so I well comprehend loss & grief. One learns to walk along side with it, one never finds "closure". Please, let this not occur again, it is so avoidable. Life is precious, treasure every moment. Healing blessings to all. I am so sorry........Peace & Grace........
    1. Janie Chernabrow posted on 01/07/2014 10:33 AM
      @Wendy Chernabrow Reading this, I am both angered, at the fact that the animals were left unattended--UNACCEPTABLE!!!--and on the verge of tears, for the animals AND their human "parents."

      As her sister, I can wholeheartedly attest to the heartfelt words in her letter.
      As animals lovers--my whole family--such an incident, which ought never have occurred, touch us deeply.

      My sincere condolences to the families who had their dogs boarded here. And to Baker Animal Hospital--for their care and compassion, as I have been taking my "pet children" there for almost 25 years!!!

      I urge anyone and everyone to take a good look at what Wendy wrote, and take these words to heart. Losing a loved one--yes, "even an animal"--is a horrible thing, and under such circumstances???

      I'd seek legal counsel too. It wouldn't bring my "pet child" back, but one HAS to take, and make, a stand.

      May God bring these families the strength and support they so desperately need, and deserve.
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