Chardon kennel responds after dog under its care escapes, dies

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CHARDON, Ohio-- Jessica Newsome says she adopted her dog four years ago from a rescue and the two seemed to immediately bond.

"She's just always been at my side, she's been my shadow. We have dog beds and things like that, nope, she's right here," Jessica said.

Last week, Newsome and her husband, Noah, were preparing for their Friday wedding. Noah also had to go to Philadelphia to take an important medical board exam. For the first time ever, they decided they needed to board their dog, Lilly, for a few days.

"Usually we would have family watch her, but our whole family was kind of wrapped up in our wedding as well so we were giving her a little first trial before we do our honeymoon in March," Jessica said.

The couple said they decided to take Lilly to a kennel that Noah's family has used for years without any prior problems. Lilly was dropped off Sunday afternoon

Early Monday after the couple left for Philadelphia, Noah said they called the kennel to ask how Lilly's first night there went.

"They told us everything was fine and they had to go," said Jessica.

What the couple did not know at the time was that Lilly had apparently escaped an hour earlier through a weak point in the fence of an outdoor play area and had run for a vast wooded area. They said the kennel called Noah's mother, who was listed as an emergency contact and his family made the decision not to tell the couple because they wanted Noah to be focused on his exam.

But Jessica said she was listed as the primary contact and wishes she would have been called. Family members quickly mobilized search parties and distributed fliers to search for the dog with no luck.

Two days later, Noah's father called them and broke the news that Lilly was missing and the couple hurried back from Philadelphia to search for themselves.

"It was some initial thought that she was right in the area of the woods that she escaped from so we immediately started calling there, my parents put out fliers so we started getting leads on Facebook," Noah said.

"We were hoping that she would just come right out when she heard Jessica's voice, but that turned out to be not the case."

On Saturday evening, the day after the couple was married, they say they received an ominous call. It was the owner of the kennel telling them that Lilly had been found about a half a mile away, where she had been hit by a car and was killed.

A spokesperson for the owners of The Kennels of Stone Creek told FOX 8 News they are devastated.

"Nothing like this has ever happened to them before. They have been in business for more than 25 years and have hosted hundreds and hundreds of dogs safely so its been difficult for them," Fran Stephenson said.

Stephenson insists Lilly was supervised at the time, although the Newsomes feel the supervision was not adequate. Stephenson told FOX 8 she cannot explain how the dog escaped, but the owners of the kennel said they believe they did everything they could afterwards to help return her home safely.

She also said that the owners of the kennel have been on the receiving end of threats after the story exploded on social media.

The Newsomes say they signed a contract that limits the liability of the kennel to $500 or the value of a dog of similar breed, whichever is less. They said they are sharing their story hoping it helps all kennel owners to be as responsible as they possibly can when caring for other's pets.

"You can't put a monetary value on how much love she gave us, the times that we spent together. You can't really put a value on that," Noah said.

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