Washington Post

“…A bewildering tale of accusations and misdeeds involving a business [Wagtime] that has had persistent problems with city agencies and its neighbors, well-organized residents who oppose having 30 dogs kept in a tiny yard on their block, and more city workers than respond to your average homicide.” July 31, 2003 by Marc Fisher

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Backyard of Wagtime's Former Location

This photo is borrowed from a blog of a former neighbor of the old Wagtime location.

As a reminder, if you'd like a copy of a previous case filed against Wagtime in DC Superior Court, please e-mail wydog20001@yahoo.com

Friday, August 10, 2007

Similar Experiences

I have started to publicize the website and have received several responses with similar stories of customers' experiences at Wagtime. You can see that many of the issues are very similar (lack of concern by staff/young and inexperienced staff members.)

We have boarded our 12 year old beagle at Wagtime one time-- in March 2007. As far as I know, they took good care of him and allowed him to hang out in the upstairs part of the building as opposed to the yard with all of the big dogs who would undoubtedly harass him. In this respect we were happy with Wagtime---- whenever we used to take him to Dogs by Day, he would spend the entire time cowering in a corner being harassed by big (and little) dogs and we finally stopped taking him there because he always seemed so traumatized by it and we realized that the caretakers weren't doing much to make his situation any easier. So, we left for our weekend trip happy that Wagtime seemed like a great alternative to Dogs by Day. However, the big red flag went up for us regarding Wagtime when my husband went to pick up our dog at the end of the weekend and he was attacked and bitten by a small aggressive dog that was permitted to hang out in the front of the store! The dog, completely unprovoked, bit his leg and drew blood --- AND THE STAFF DID NOTHING. Their reaction was not very apologetic and they said that the dog was fine and was not aggressive. They made no attempt to remove the dog to a different area of the building where he would not be a menace to customers and they basically shrugged the incident off. When my husband pushed the matter and asked to speak to a manager about it, he was told the manager would call him. That never happened. Meanwhile, we paid full price for boarding and no apology or recourse was made on their part. In hindsight, we should have pursued the matter more aggressively and at least reported the bite to Animal Control. Unfortunately we didn't do this and so the matter went unrecorded and unreported. I sort of forgot about the incident until now but this posting below prompted me to send in our own story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spread the Word, Take Action

The purpose of this website is to pass along information to unsuspecting pet owners that I've uncovered while doing research on Lisa Schreiber and her business, Wagtime LLC. More importantly, I hope to encourage DC city officials to enact regulations ensuring the safety of pets in commercial daycares throughout the District of Columbia.

A quick summary of my experience: in April of 2007, I stumbled upon Wagtime while purchasing some toys for my beagle, Wyatt. After speaking with Lisa and Ofer Kahl (her business partner), I felt like it was a good place to bring my dog. I read some online client reviews, and, while there were only a few, all indicated good things about Wagtime. Lisa and Ofer are nice people and you can sense they love the dogs, so I felt like it would be safe.

Wyatt did well there since April and I was never aware of any problems. As you can read in “my story” to the right, later problems became apparent. To complicate things, Lisa and Ofer refused to acknowledge any problem with dogs chewing collars off of other dogs. In fact, they both passed it off as normal. Fortunately, I was able to speak to a few employees who agreed that it should not have happened.

I decided to report my experience to the District agency that would regulate this type of business or even the Humane Society, as my dog could have seriously been injured. While people at these places will listen and understand the problem, there is nothing that can be done about it. I learned that DC has very archaic animal laws that allow for businesses such as Wagtime to get away with a lot and no repercussions for their negligence.

This forum is about fostering change. Together, in numbers, we can speak to our Councilmembers, their staff and other officials in the District to let them know that our beloved animals deserve to go to a place that has to follow certain guidelines and cannot allow dogs to face injuries or abuse by other dogs.

Councilmember Jack Evans (202)724-8058
Councilmember Jim Graham (202)724-8181
Councilmember Carol Schwarz (202)724-8105
Councilmember Mary Cheh (202)724-8062
Councilmember Vincent Gray (202)724-8032
Peggy Keller, Washington DC Department of Health (202)535-2188

Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004

Please feel free to e-mail me any questions, similar experiences, or ideas that you may have to bring about change. If you'd like to join my e-mail list for bi-weekly updates on progress, please let me know.

free counter

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

False Advertising

On Wagtime's website, it claims that Ofer and Lisa are committed to their human and pet clients and guarantee quality care and owner peace of mind, in one way through their webcam located at www.wagtimepetspa.com. The website which they refer visitors to does not include any link to a webcam.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

RACINE v. WAGTIME LLC (Superior Court of the District of Columbia Civil Division)

I don't know if the claims against the owner of Wagtime in a 2004 lawsuit are true or not. What I do know is that I will no longer send my dog to a place where these things could be true. Here is one of several disturbing quotes from the plaintiff's attorney found in an affidavit filed April 19, 2004.


What Wagtime and its principals and agents did not tell the platintiff [Racine] was that Wagtime had a history of dogs being left unattended , fighting with each other, and beging injured while in Wagtime's care and custody. One dog which escaped from Wagtime in December, 20003, was struck by a motor vehicle and killed. Another dog, which escaped from Wagtime in its prior location at 2104 18th Street, was struck by a motor vehicle and this fact was concealed from its owner.

If interested in the full affidavit against Wagtime, please email me at wydog20001@yahoo.com.

'03 Wa Po story on Wag Time

Another Doggy Farce In the District
By Marc Fisher
Thursday, July 31, 2003; Page B01

For many years, when people said this city was going to the dogs, I chose to believe otherwise.

Pass the Alpo, please.

This month, I reported the saga of the District's relentless, armed crusade to capture an 8-year-old girl's pet dog. Today, another canine caper, in which the Metropolitan Police Department, famous for failing to respond to human beings in need, arrests a pregnant woman for assault with a dangerous weapon -- dog feces.
(Too late to warn breakfasting readers, I suppose, but here goes: This story contains gross bits.)

Stephanie Mencimer, a freelance writer, works in a carriage house behind her Victorian rowhouse in the Logan Circle area of Northwest. About 12:30 Friday afternoon, she went home for lunch. Stepping across her small brick patio, she noticed a plastic supermarket bag on the ground. She picked it up and realized it contained dog waste.
The only neighbor bordering on Mencimer's patio is a just-opened dog day-care facility called Wagtime. One day before her unpleasant discovery, Mencimer had called the 311 non-emergency police line to complain about loud barking coming from the kennel -- the latest in a long stream of complaints by Wagtime's neighbors on Q Street. Police did not respond.
Ticked by what she took as a message from the business next door, Mencimer said, she walked the bag over to Wagtime and placed it on the front counter. She said she firmly asked the owner, Lisa Schreiber, not to dump any more waste in her yard. Schreiber and two of her employees said Mencimer didn't place the bag on the counter, but rather flung it at the owner and shouted at her.
Mencimer went home. Schreiber called 911. "I don't know where that bag came from, but she was out of control," Schreiber told me. "Why would I take any chance of dealing with her? I told her to calm down and leave, and then I called the police."
About half an hour later, a D.C. police detective knocked on Mencimer's door. He asked her to remove her shoes and watch and come with him: She was under arrest.
"For what?" she asked.
"Assault with a dangerous weapon -- animal feces," came the reply. That is a felony.
Mencimer told the detective her version, in which it was Schreiber who was out of control, but the officer said that he had taken a course in biometrics and could tell that Mencimer was lying. He called for backup, and within minutes, Mencimer, who is five months pregnant, was handcuffed in her kitchen, taken to the police station and locked in a cell.
She spent the rest of the day in custody, without food or water. Her husband, Erik Wemple, was refused permission to see her or bring her reading materials. Then, when police learned that she is married to the editor of the Washington City Paper, Mencimer said, "all of a sudden, people were a lot nicer to me." Suddenly, the felony that the detective told her she would be charged with was reduced to simple assault, a misdemeanor, which allowed her to go home.
This being the District, the computer crashed and police told Mencimer that the paperwork to let her out would have to be done by hand -- delaying her release by nearly two hours.
Police did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The background to all this is a bewildering tale of accusations and misdeeds involving a business that has had persistent problems with city agencies and its neighbors, well-organized residents who oppose having 30 dogs kept in a tiny yard on their block, and more city workers than respond to your average homicide.
Here's the gist of it: Wagtime's former landlord in Adams Morgan terminated the kennel's lease in June, after months of complaints that the dogs were so loud that the upstairs tenant could not sleep. An acoustical engineer who measured the noise found it at rock-concert levels.
Schreiber rented the Q Street space, a former real estate office that is one of only two commercially zoned properties on an otherwise residential block. Astonished that the city would allow a kennel to open on a quiet street of rowhouses, residents sought help from several D.C. agencies. Nothing doing.
Neighbors, many of them dog owners, offered to help Schreiber find a more appropriate location. They offered to pay her $30,000 to go elsewhere.
Schreiber replied that she would move for $300,000. "I knew they'd reject my offer," Schreiber said. "Why should I move? This is an upscale boutique, not a kennel. It's day care, like you would take your child to. I have a right to be here, and the neighbors should be glad to have us here. This property could be a gas station or a sex shop."
Over the Fourth of July weekend, with vigilant neighbors videotaping dogs as they entered the shop, Wagtime moved into its Q Street location without a certificate of occupancy. The city fined Wagtime and ordered the dogs removed. "I was wrong, I know," Schreiber said, "but I had no choice. I had 30 dogs boarding with me for the weekend." Ousted from the new location, Schreiber [the owner of Wagtime] took the dogs to her house nearby. Neighbors called police about that, and Schreiber ended up paying for three hotel rooms for the dogs over the weekend.
Gary Ridley can see Wagtime's yard from his window, and at the request of city inspectors, he has taken on the role of chief videotaper for the neighbors. "We tried negotiating with Lisa, but she just screams that this is a vendetta against her," Ridley said. "So we have documented everything: the dogs left overnight with no one there, the dogs when they didn't have an occupancy certificate. And it is so disheartening when we, as a neighborhood, have been so good at doing it the right way, working with the city agencies, and then they do nothing."
Schreiber said a member of her staff sleeps in the dogs' room with them overnight. When I visited Wagtime yesterday, it was clean and quiet, but at other times in recent days, I've heard the dogs from several houses down the block.
"We have done what we can do," said Chris Bender, a spokesman for the deputy mayor for planning and economic development and the only one of five city officials involved in the case who would talk about it. Because the D.C. Council killed the mayor's master business license program, the city has no ability to regulate this kind of business, he said. "They can keep as many dogs as they like. If the neighbors say it's way too loud, we can go out there and check, but that's all we can do."
The city granted Wagtime its occupancy certificate because the property is zoned for business. Bender said Schreiber agreed to limit the dogs' outdoor time to business hours and build a taller fence and canopy for the yard.
But the battle of Q Street continues. Even before last week's run-in, Schreiber left a letter under Mencimer's door announcing a "lawsuit in which you have been named as a primary defendant" because Mencimer had shown other neighbors a "confidential" letter from Schreiber's former landlord explaining why he wanted her out of the Adams Morgan location. But Mencimer had found that letter in a public court file. No lawsuit has been filed.
Last week, Schreiber sent a more conciliatory letter, promising to keep Wagtime clean and quiet. But Schreiber has no illusions of impending peace. "They'll keep calling the Health Department and the police on us, and they'll keep taping us and harassing us," she said. "These people are out of control."
Mencimer, who faces an Aug. 14 court date, also sees no way out. "It looks like Wagtime is here to stay," she said. "The city says it can't do anything. And we can't move. With the noise and the stench, who would want this house?"
District police, lawyers and inspectors keep responding to calls from both sides, and instead of using the health code to shut down an inappropriately located business, the only step they take is to arrest a pregnant woman.
There's only one possible explanation for all this -- the instant police response to Schreiber's complaint, the jailing of Mencimer, the municipal refusal to act on behalf of besieged human beings.