Santa Clara couple says dog died in care of local trainer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A Santa Clara couple is searching for answers after their dog died in the care of a local trainer.

That trainer was contracted by the Bay Area K9 Association and paid to board the dogs for one weekend last month.

"So this is Ichigo, our Shiba, he's 5 years old. And this is his sister, Wan Wan, our corgi," said Eric Tran. "We've a very close family."

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Eric and Jessica Lee had never left their dogs with anyone until May 17, when they paid for three days of boarding at Bay Area K9 Association - a training facility for dogs.

They knew the owner and had used the company's services before and trusted them.

"We received a text update that our two dogs were in a fight and that Sherree, the trainer that was taking care of our dog, brought our Shiba, Ichigo, to the vet, and they said there was nothing wrong with him. Just minor injuries. So they released him, that's according to Sherree and then the following afternoon, we received another text and it was basically, your dog is dying. He's gone into shock and he's dying," Eric said.

By the time the couple got home, their dog was dead. Their dogs were in the care of Sherree Gray, a trainer contracted by Bay Area K9 Association.

The dogs were at Gray's home in Hollister.

Gray texted Eric and Jessica that the two dogs were in her fenced backyard, with no other dogs, when some kind of fight happened when she wasn't watching. That's how Ichigo was injured.

"We don't understand how he was into a minor incident to now, he's dying, it's such a dramatic change," Eric said.

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Eric and Jessica claim that Ichigo was healthy and never fought with their other, much smaller dog.

Ichigo's necropsy states that his cause of death were "compatible with hemorrhage and congestion secondary to shock."

After a few days of text messaging back and forth, Erica and Jessica stopped communication with the owner of Bay Area K9, Steve Kenzler, and the trainer Sherree Gray when the couple felt they couldn't get any answers.

They agreed to all talk to each other, with ABC7's cameras rolling. That conversation went on for more than an hour.

Eric: "How can a healthy Shiba go into shock and die within 24 hours?"

Sherree Gray: "I didn't actually see the fight. I don't know at what point in time that fight actually happened but it did happen and you know, I need to know what can I do to make this better for you guys."

Eric: "We paid for boarding service, the dogs should be supervised. Why were they in the backyard on a rainy day?"

Sherree: "You also paid for an in-home boarding service, where there are supposed to be times that the dogs won't always be fully supervised."

Kris Reyes: "That's where I want to ask Steve, is that written down anywhere?"

Eric: "It's not written down, no."

Eric and Jessica admit they did not sign any kind of release form nor did they get it in writing what kind of service they were being provided or where it would take place. At the end of our conversation, they had one big demand for Bay Area K9's owner.

Jessica: "My two dogs trusted you, too."

Kris Reyes (to Steve Kezler): "They're asking you to shut down your boarding services, what's your response to that?"

Steve: "It's a small program. I'd be happy to shut it down."

Eric: "I think it's a start. I think we're moving in the right direction."

Steve: "I want to be here for you guys."

Meanwhile, Gray, the trainer, said she has issue with some of the comments that Eric and Jessica have made online. Gray says she is planning legal action to fight back against the online harassment she says she is now getting as a result.

She did not want to do an on-camera interview.

"We haven't even gotten Ichigo's cremation yet, we'll take whatever justice we need for Ichigo," Eric said.
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