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Lawsuit: Edgemont Dog Mauled by Pit Bull at Kennel

EDGEMONT, N.Y. – An Edgemont woman’s Cockapoo was mauled to death by a pit bull while under the care of a dog training school, according to a complaint filed in state Supreme Court on Monday.

Susan Kahn sent her 6-year-old dog, Coco, to a Putnam Valley boarding and training facility for socialization lessons because the dog was terrified of other canines, the lawsuit said.

At the facility Coco was attacked by a pit bull mix nearly three times her size, ending in a horrific death for the small white pooch, Kahn's lawyer Alan Sash said.

“Coco died a horrible death in a manner that she was most afraid of – being mauled by another dog,” the lawsuit said.

Kahn has filed a lawsuit against DOG Obedience Girl LLC, its owner, Joanne Willard and her husband Trevor, stating that their “reckless” and “negligent” actions led to the death of her dog.

Joanne Willard told The Daily Greenburgh that she was very sorry about Coco's death.

“Our hearts go out to Susan Kahn and her children on the tragic loss of their family dog Coco," Willard wrote in an email.  "This tragic death occurred while their pet was in our care.  We feel an intense sense of responsibility for what happened.  We are terribly sorry that this occurred.  In the coming days, we will make every effort to help the Kahn family deal with their grief and suffering.   We have carefully studied what happened and have taken important steps to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”

Kahn’s lawyer said Kahn left Coco in the care of Willard on March 15, for a three-week, overnight training course at the former Woods End Kennel.

Twelve days later, in an attempt to acclimate Coco to other dogs, Willard put the unleashed Cockapoo in a room with three other dogs, including a 40-pound pit bull mix, Sash said.

The training session turned deadly when the pit bull attacked Coco, sinking its teeth into her head, crushing her skull and causing traumatic brain injuries, the lawsuit said.

Coco was taken to a local animal hospital and later, at the request of Kahn, to the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, but was not able to be saved. An autopsy showed the brain was injured so severely it stopped sending signals for Coco’s heart to beat, the complaint said.

While Willard has refused to identify the dog that attacked Coco, Sash said the plaintiff was able to identify the pit bull through other sources.

What they found was that the dog, named Ella, recently “jumped a fence and ran viciously into another person’s yard and bit a child,” the lawsuit said.

Sash said the pit bull was under the custody of Willard at the time of the attack, but was unsure if she was the official owner of the dog.

Kahn is seeking unspecified damages to recover the cost of Coco, her medical bills and attorney fees. But Sash said the suit is about more than money.

“She is looking to hold them accountable,” Sash said.

Kahn issued a brief statement but declined to comment further on the case.

"I hope that no one has to experience the needless and traumatic loss of a devoted family companion,” Kahn said through her public relations manager.

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