The families of the 10 dogs who died during a flash flood that overwhelmed the District Dogs facility in Northeast D.C. are still dealing with their loss, and still looking for answers.
Several of them expressed grief and frustration on Wednesday — and some of them are still waiting for answers from District officials about the length of time the emergency response took.
“My baby’s gone,” said one distressed dog owner, through tears. “He was loved by so many.”
“… We’re convinced, because [the owner] refuses to deny it, that our dog and some of these other dogs — if not all of them — were in cages when this happened, and that she died alone and drowning in a cage,” said Jonathan Garrow, who lost his dog Malee in the flood.
One of the questions District officials have yet to fully answer is how long it took from when calls to 911 started coming in, to when rescue teams were sent to help.
Firefighters were already on the scene outside the shelter, where four people were trapped in cars.
D.C.’s city administrator Kevin Donahue provided the first official timeline during a Thursday press conference.
“I can provide as much as I know,” Donahue said. “Getting the full picture will require the benefit of additional time and assessments.”
The water rushed into the building quickly, but rose 6 feet up the front of the building before the wall collapsed.
“There were at least three calls made to 911 between 5:06 [p.m.] and 5:18 [p.m.],” Donahue said. “Each of the calls came from different individuals.”
According to Donahue, and records obtained by News4, more than 20 minutes passed from that first 911 call until rescue teams reached all seven employees trapped inside.
Here’s the timeline:
The first of the three calls came in for reports of flooding inside District Dogs. But according to Donahue, the caller did not convey that there was a serious emergency.
That call came from a person in Maryland who was watching the flood unfold through closed circuit video in the facility.
She tells News4 she doesn’t recall what she told the 911 operator.
A third call from an employee inside — describing the imminent danger — came through to 911.
The incident commander was notified of the trapped employees and dogs at 5:21 p.m., according to radio transmissions reviewed by News4.
The employee inside calls 911 again, saying they are still trapped inside.
Rescue teams could be seen wading through the flooded street in safety gear, dragging an inflatable raft along, outside the dog day care around 5:30.
Donahue acknowledged that it was until after the third call at 5:18 p.m. that teams were dispatched, and he believes teams were making their way inside to the trapped people and dogs as the last call came in.
“When did the firefighters on scene become aware that there were individuals who were trapped inside of District Dogs, and dogs who were trapped inside of District Dogs?” Donahue asked. “I think that requires the benefit of a full review and investigation.”
“I don’t right now know exactly when they gained entry,” he said Thursday.
Many of the employees who were trapped inside, and families who lost their loved ones, planned to be at a vigil on Thursday night around 8 p.m. at the Alethia Tanner Park in Northeast.