UPDATE: Service dog in emergency ICU after stay at Etobicoke Petsmart

A cardiac alert service dog remains in emergency ICU Saturday afternoon, after spending a week at the Petsmart hotel in Etobicoke.

Aspen, a four-year-old black lab, is hooked up to an IV, has a feeding tube, and requires fluid on her lungs to be removed.

What is making her so sick is still a mystery.

Corey Dixon picked up Aspen on July 8th and says she was having trouble walking and covered in her own drool and vomit. "To be honest with you I started crying, I just couldn't believe it. I was in shock, I was trying to question the staff about what the heck happened. They are supposed to have an on-call vet so I questioned why they never bothered to call the vet if she was this sick."

He says Aspen was also 10 pounds lighter than when she was dropped off and her blood pressure was incredibly high.

"They didn't really have any answers for me, to be honest. We haven't really gotten any clear answers from Petsmart," Dixon vents.

He says he completely regrets leaving her at the Petsmart hotel. "I wanted to go to Muskoka and I was really scared about her getting sick or injured up there because, you know, wild animals, ticks, etc. Looking back on it, I definitely should have brought her. She is my companion and I really hope she gets better because right now she is very sick."

And there’s an even greater reason for concern for Dixon, who suffers from heart arrhythmia issues. Aspen is a cardiac alert service dog. Since he got her earlier this year, she has saved his life on more than three occasions, so being away from her has been difficult.

“Sometimes she can tell beforehand, before I pass out and she’ll put her paw on me,” says Dixon.  And she’ll bark to get his attention.

Just a few months ago, his sugar dropped so low after he blacked out, and when he woke up, Aspen was lying next to him and firefighters and paramedics were on the scene. That was one of those life-saving moments.  

“For the most part, she’s mostly for when I do pass out. She wears a bright yellow vest that says service dog and she has two pouches with my medical information.”

Late yesterday, Dixon heard back from PetSmart. They’ve offered him $5,000 to cover part of the cost of Aspen’s medical care, but the expenses are piling up. He told NEWSTALK1010 that costs to care for Aspen in the ICU could top $20,000.

He says a gofundme page has been set up to help cover her medical expenses. The current goal is $6,000. As of Saturday afternoon, it had reached $800. 

PetSmart is investigating what happened, but Dixon says their claim is that they “followed all policies and procedures” - something he's not buying. The store has not responded to NEWSTALK1010's repeated requests for comment.

Dixon wants Aspen's story told in the hopes that other dogs don't suffer the same fate.

- With files from Heather Seaman