TAMPA — A dog day-care and boarding center where two pets died from heat exhaustion in July has changed hands a second time since the deaths.
Lucky Dog at 1116 W Fig St. became Love My Dog Resort after the two deaths drove off two-thirds of the customers there, Love My Dog owner Natalie Conner said at the time.
But Conner announced on the company’s website Jan. 1 that Love My Dog Tampa would be closing because of "financial constraints" on Jan. 6 and reopening Jan. 8 under new owners.
The new owners are the people who originally opened Lucky Dog and operated it for seven years, said spokeswoman Brittany Hill. They are not the people who owned the business when the two dogs died.
"The transition in ownership was abrupt, but has already resulted in very positive outcomes, such as the original Lucky Dog team being reassembled," Hill said. "We are very excited to have our family back on board."
The team had operated Lucky Dog for seven years, she said.
Conner took over the week after Lucky Dog closed in July, redesigning the center, re-training staff members who hadn’t been fired, and implementing new safety procedures.
"Things happened here," Conner said then.
In the letter posted on the Love My Dog website Jan. 6, Conner said, "I have put my heart, my soul, and my money into doing everything I know to do in this industry to rebuild and ensure Tampa that they had a safe, clean, well-managed and caring facility for the most unconditional loves of our lives, our dogs."
The letter says any fees paid for future boarding would be returned or pet owners could redeem them at the other two Love My Dog locations, both in Pinellas county.
Pam Carollo of Tampa, a Love My Dog customer, said she intends to drive her dogs to one of Conner’s Pinellas locations.
"I am heartbroken by the closing of Love My Dog Tampa," Carollo said. "Natalie and her staff were dedicated to the safety and well-being of every dog that came through the doors."
It was business as usual at the Fig Street location during Love My Dog’s final day Jan. 6, with a full parking lot and the sound of barking dogs. Manager Briana Platt said Conner is moving employees to the Pinellas locations.
Platt added, "All we can really say is that we did our best; we love the dogs, we’re here for them, and we will miss them and Tampa."
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reported incorrectly the timeline of ownership for Lucky Dog.
Contact Libby Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at @LibBaldwin.