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Camp Best Friends
1819 Pontius Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
P: 310-473-8585

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  • Mel
    Said on Nov 26, 2022 by Mel Reply

    My dog of 11 years, Chloe, died under the care of Camp Best Friends in Aug. 2021 while I was away on a family vacation. I spent months researching the best place for Chloe to stay while I was gone for a week. She was the sweetest small bundle of fluff but was shy around other dogs and preferred to be separated during boarding. The last time I went out of town, she stayed at City Dog in West LA. It was fine there, but I preferred that she wasn’t caged this time. I decided on Camp Best Friends, which was next door to City Dog. It says this on Camp Best Friends’ website, but the owner Cathi also assured me that they don’t mingle the dogs, keep them caged and are familiar with taking care of senior dogs. I decided to reserve my spot after talking to Cathi over the phone.

    Before I dropped Chloe off, I tried calling Cathi a couple times to confirm that there would be someone monitoring 24/7 because the hours of operation displayed on their website confused me. I wanted details about what the space looked like, where she would be sleeping and if she needed me to email feeding instructions. I never received a phone call back from her, which worried me. Despite my apprehensions, I read good reviews and decided to trust the care of Camp Best Friends. I thought it was odd that she didn’t ask me to fill out a questionnaire, so I wrote up a two-page guide with details on her feeding, medication, personality, emergency contact info, etc. When I got to the facility, I was thrown off by how untidy it was, but Cathi apologized and said it was because of Covid and she didn’t have as many people working there now. Pablo, the main handler who lives in a small room at the facility came out to greet Chloe and watch her while Cathi gave me a tour. We decided that she would have Chloe stay in a separate area away from the larger dogs that barked as that would be the best idea especially since it was going to be a full house that weekend. Cathi could tell I was nervous because Chloe rarely left my side, so Cathi said she would send me photos of Chloe while I was gone.

    However, I never received photos or was contacted, which kept me wondering if that was a sign that something was wrong, or were they too busy? Five days into Chloe’s stay, I received multiple calls early in the morning from an emergency vet hospital that she was under respiratory distress with pneumonia and pulmonary edema. She passed away not long after the phone call.

    ***Cathi never called me to inform me about what happened. I had to call her to let her know that Chloe had died. She told me that she didn’t have my phone number at the time.***

    I consulted with multiple doctors after receiving the lab results and X-rays, and talked to the emergency vet that took care of Chloe last. She indeed contracted pneumonia over the period of days at Camp Best Friends, which led to a fatal amount of fluid in her lungs.

    My husband and I decided to show up at Camp Best Friends a couple days after we got home. We had several questions about what happened to Chloe because we discovered that Camp Best Friends had violated several state of California codes for pet boarding facilities, including failing to contact us about our dog’s health when she was sick.

    When we arrived at Camp Best Friends to pick up Chloe's remaining items, Cathi was not upfront to us about what happened and was not prepared to answer our questions. The first thing she said to us was “sorry I ruined your trip.” We agreed, in which she responded with, “Hey, I didn’t kill your dog.” She did not have any daily records kept of Chloe during her stay and said that everything she needed to know was in her head at the age of 72. Cathi claimed she was “traditional,” not like other pet boarding facilities that keep digital records. It turned out that Pablo was the only person taking care of the dogs during Chloe’s stay and was the best person to ask what had happened. He was reluctant at first to even speak to us and his limited English-speaking skills made it difficult for him to articulate any details.

    After further questioning, Cathi and Pablo said Chloe showed signs of distress and had difficulty breathing while there, which we learned about from the doctor’s report, and Cathi admitted that she regretted not calling Chloe’s veterinarian to have her looked at immediately yet also claimed that Chloe had those symptoms when I dropped her off, which was not true.

    Chloe was healthy as I would not have left her there if I noticed something was off about her and I would have written down any symptoms on the form I gave to Cathi. They kept her in a playpen area near another elderly, but sick dog who also “coincidentally” was sent to the hospital yet survived. They ultimately brought Chloe to the vet when Pablo noticed her coughing up specks of blood when he got up in the middle of the night to pee.

    During our visit there after Chloe had passed, we saw photos Pablo took of Chloe two days into her stay. He had sent them to his family in Mexico but not to us while we were away. I asked for the photos, which I looked at further when I got home. It was clear Chloe was under distress and fluid was coming out of her nose. The neglect to even call me at the first moment of concern is a clear sign Camp Best Friends should not be in business.

    For a pet boarding facility that claimed to be in business for more than 30 years, Camp Best Friends is completely disorganized and not fit to take care of multiple animals simultaneously. They even had trouble finding her belongings at first when we asked for them back. Before we left Camp Best Friends, Cathi also said that she regretted taking on any new clients and is planning to wind down her business. Bottom line: make sure to ask more questions and scout the pet boarding facility before leaving your dog in their hands. Find someone you can trust your pet with and who will take good care of it. All I can say is from my experience, Camp Best Friends failed to take care of my dog in less than a week while I was gone.

Camp Best Friends in LA offers boarding, grooming, and day-care for domestic and exotic pets.