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Family looking for justice after their dog was killed at a doggy daycare

Posted at 6:27 PM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 18:40:03-04

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — 5-month-old puppy Oakley brought so much joy to the Leistner family, but that joy turned to heartbreak when he was killed at a doggy daycare.

"I couldn’t believe what I was hearing," said Vicki Leistner, Oakley's owner.

Oakley had been a regular at Buffalo Barks in the Town of Tonawanda since January. Leistner says she noticed some scrapes here and there, but didn't make anything of it.

On April 2nd, she says she got a phone call from David Vanini, owner of Buffalo Barks, saying Oakley died after being bitten by another dog. He was taken to the vet and was dead upon arrival, according to Leistner.

“The description of what my dog looked like when he got there didn’t match any story we had gotten. He was cold and stiff, so the vet said he had been dead for hours,” said Leistner.

Leistner says she then asked to see surveillance footage of the attack.

“I decided something’s not right because the told my husband it happened inside and my daughter sees it happened outside and there was no supervision in that video," said Leistner.

She says she felt like she was not getting the whole story from the owners of the daycare, so she took to Facebook and created a page called "Justice for Oakley". It's garnered thousands of members and support throughout the community.

Several former employees of Buffalo Barks reached out to Leistner, saying this isn't the first time something like this has happened.

“I’m not surprised to find out another one passed," said Kristian Porterfield, who was a groomer at the daycare in 2017. He says he witnessed several dogs injuries while working there.

“It's a very hostile environment...I know there’s been multiple deaths there and I know that there have been multiple injuries,” said Lisa Zeigler, who worked there in 2018.

One former employee asked to remain anonymous. They said that dogs are not properly supervised.

"I’ve never cleaned up so much blood and been bitten so many times in my career than I did at that place," said the former worker.

There have been no other reported incidents at Buffalo Barks before Oakley's death, according to Town of Tonawanda Police. There are many positive online reviews of the daycare.

7 Eyewitness News reached out to the owners Buffalo Barks who sent this statement.

The Leistner family declined to participate in the committee.

“Honestly I believe they do feel bad. We hired an attorney to possibly make some changes. Possibly set up some legislation that there should be licensing and checks on these buildings," said Leistner.

There is a petition to support this effort with thousands of signatures. The family has also set up a GoFundMe Page to help pay for legal fees.

Buffalo Barks is open and is listed as an essential business.