Staff at a dog day care centre in Sheffield have been subjected to death threats after videos emerged appearing to show them mistreating animals.
The Doggy Den on Little London Road defended itself against accusations of animal cruelty after the videos were shared widely on Facebook.
The videos show staff kicking and throwing things at animals in their care – behaviour which owner, Tom Greatorex, accepted was ‘completely unacceptable’.
However, Mr Greatorex said the videos were mostly between 18 months and two years old – and were only now being publicised maliciously by a disgruntled former employee.
“The videos have been shared by a former staff member who was sacked in February for kicking a dog,” he said.
“They are not a reflection of our everyday care.
“If it was it would have come out ages ago. I was not aware of what those staff members had done.”
The videos which have been shared on social media show CCTV and mobile phone footage filmed inside the Doggy Den.
In them, an employee is shown appearing to kick a dog which tries to stand beside them while in another an employee throws a toy violently at a dog’s head.
A more recent mobile phone shot video appears to show an employee repeatedly kicking a dog.
Neither person is employed by Doggy Den anymore, added Mr Greatorex.
“I am mortified, I have been working with dogs for 10 years – I love them,” he said.
“I am just numb – I can’t take it in. My main fear is that this will mean the end of my business.”
Mr Greatorex said he understood he would have to make some ‘major changes’ in order to regain the trust of his clients and the wider public.
He said this might include better training, greater use of CCTV cameras and possibly even sharing the filmed footage with clients in real time.
Despite the furore, a planned protest outside the business on Monday morning attracted just three people, according to Mr Greatorex.
However, he said he’d received ‘thousands’ of death threats online and over the phone, including people saying they will burn down his business.
“We have had a staff member quit already because she is scared of the impact this could have on her future career,” he said.
“Another really good member of staff who had been with us for three years didn’t come in because they are scared of being attacked.”
The business was set up in 2013, but Mr Greatorex said he had been involved in dog care for almost 10 years.
It currently has 14 members of staff and are licensed to take up to 50 dogs at a time.
The videos came to light on Sunday when they were shared on Facebook, since when they have been shared almost 10,000 times and attracted 2,000 comments.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, whose constituency contains the business, said she had written to Sheffield Council calling for an investigation.
Commenting online, Chris Davis Willis said: “Who in their right mind would leave the their dog in anywhere that caters for such a large group.”
And Shirl Meadows added: “Get the place shut down and report them to the police.”
The Star contacted the RSPCA for comment.