Same-day deaths of 2 dogs in care of Hamilton pet-sitting service prompt Ontario probe

Warning: The story contains an image some people might find disturbing

Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General says it is investigating after reports that two dogs died on the same day while in the care of a dog-sitting service in Hamilton.

Cassandra Almeida said that on the morning of June 14, she dropped off her dogs — Samantha (or Sammy) and Ralph — at Kippen Cares, which is operated inside a home, as she was heading out of town for the weekend to visit her parents in Alderton.

Almeida said that on the morning of June 16, the business owner, Jessica Kippen, called to tell her that something was wrong with Sammy.

“She told me my dog was having a hard time breathing, so I got in my car and left at that moment,” Almeida told CBC Hamilton.

“About 15 minutes later, she called back to say that my dog had stopped breathing.”

Sammy, a rescue from a meat market in China, died on June 16, 2024. (Submitted by Cassandra Almeida)

Almeida called her boyfriend and asked him to go and take Sammy to the emergency vet, but “she never started breathing again. She died.”

Sammy was a rescue from a meat market in China, Almeida said. She does not know her exact age or breed, but believes Sammy was about 6½ years old and a Samoyed Malamute mix based on her look and personality.

She said Sammy was in good health and had her last checkup “just a couple months prior and the vet said that there was nothing to worry about, that she was doing good.”

Almeida said she “cried [her] eyes out” on the entire drive back to Hamilton and she is still trying to come to terms with Sammy’s death. 

But Almeida said Kippen refused to explain or talk about what happened. 

Even when Almeida went to pick up Ralph to give him the opportunity to “say goodbye to his sister,” Kippen was “very quick to deviate from the conversation,” asking instead if Almeida would watch her dog — Simba. 

She portrays to be a caring dog loving owner and caregiver but it’s false.– Jenuen Monroe

Almeida said she agreed to watch Kippen’s dog and has not heard from her since.

“She has not contacted me about getting her back,” she said.

‘She put our dog in her freezer’

Jenuen Monroe posted in the Hamilton Neighbourhood Watch Facebook group that on June 15, she left her bulldog Cartelo in Kippen’s care.

Monroe said the dog was dropped off after her husband made a booking for the dog-sitting service through the Rover app.

She said that the following morning, Kippen called to tell them that Cartelo “passed away” in his sleep during the night.

“I’m so sad and still in shocked to be making this post with the heaviest heart. I want to make this post to warn everyone in the Hamilton area of this girl. She portrays to be a caring dog loving owner and caregiver but it’s false and total opposite of what you see here on her profile,” Monroe wrote in the post.

Jenuen Monroe posted in the Hamilton Neighbourhood Watch Facebook group that on June 15 she left her bulldog, named Cartelo, at Kippen Cares. (Jenuen Monroe/CBC)

“After contacting us we made our way over to her place and to our surprise, when we asked to go inside to see our dog, she seems very hesitant and nervous and proceeds to say she put our dog in her freezer,” Monroe said.

“Like what!? We couldn’t even believe it. We go inside now to see him and realize the unhealthy, filthy and unfit conditions all these dogs that she’s watching are living in while in her care.” 

CBC News has reached out to Kippen but has not heard back.

Monroe said she’s at a loss about how a perfectly healthy two-year-old dog died with no signs or cause.

“My poor dog, I can’t even imagine what [his] last breath or hours were like,” she said.

“Had we know this is the living conditions they were under, we would have never trusted her with our dogs.”

While the Ministry of the Solicitor General has confirmed to CBC News it is investigating, spokesperson Brent Ross said no additional details can be provided at this time.

Almeida urges people to reach out to the solicitor general’s office to call for action to prevent other dog owners from falling victim to Kippen Cares.

Almeida has also launched a GoFundMe for her, Monroe and all other families that have used Kippen Cares to cover costs arising from the death of their pets.

In a response by email to a question about Klippen being the victim of an alleged assault in connection with a break-and-enter incident at a home in Westdale where, police said in a news release, someone “stole the occupant’s dog — a medium-sized black dog named Buster,” Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman said the incident is “still under investigation and the dog has not been recovered.”

City deeply disturbed about allegations

The City of Hamilton says it is deeply disturbed to hear about the allegations of animal abuse and extends its sincere condolences to the owners, said Kelly Beaton, manager, Hamilton Animal Services.

Warning: The image at the bottom of the story is disturbing.

Beaton said Hamilton Animal Services has been made aware of the allegations of animal abuse against the business/business owner in question, adding “administrative penalties” were issued under the Bylaw and Licensing Services team as follows:

  • 2021: Owner permit animal to make noise likely to disturb.
  • 2023: Fail to renew dog licence before expire.
  • 2023: Keep more than four animals.
  • 2023: Fail to licence dog.
  • 2023: Fail where animal kept to be clean and sanitary.
  • 2023: Operating without a licence

Beaton said there is also an open investigation regarding the operating of a business in a non-permitted capacity in accordance with the zoning bylaw.

Emily Coe, the city’s acting manager for Zoning & Committee of Adjustment, said the use of a kennel is not permitted at the address that the business currently uses.

Munroe says Kippen placed Cartelo in a freezer. (Jenuen Monroe/Facebook)