Family mourns death of two Great Danes who died during transport from Michigan to California

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A family is mourning the unexpected loss of their two dogs, who died while being transported by a company from Michigan to California. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Ervin family hired VIP Pet Delivery to take their two Great Danes, Penny and Cookie, to Napa – but the dogs never made it.

According to the news agency, Rachel Cottrell, the owner of the company, had assured the dogs’ owners that her family would do the transport themselves, but they ended up using another driver after someone in the family was exposed to another person who was positive for Covid-19.

The new driver, identified as Jack Nakamoto Jr., had told the Ervins that they could track his journey on an Apple app, but the man turned it off after leaving Michigan. Texts that the news agency accessed between Cottrell and the Ervins reveal that the driver unexpectedly diverted to Texas – then the texts stopped, until the family learned that their dogs were dead.

The driver’s father has stated that one of the dogs appeared to be sick during the journey – he said, “The dog named Cookie was laying down and wouldn’t get up.” In a video, his son said, “She can’t walk no more. That’s it. (Penny’s) fine, drinking, she didn’t eat nothing…I had to carry (Cookie) to the car.”

Nakamoto’s father tells the news agency that his son was worried and frantically calling and texting him. He said, “So, he was driving through the night and when he got to the house, he wakes me up and he’s like, Dad, Dad, I told you, I told you, I told you, they passed.” The driver’s father tells the news agency that efforts to reach Cottrell went unanswered, and the dogs were taken to a crematorium in California because they “started to smell.”

Bill Ervin tells the Press that it was the driver’s father who made the call about the dogs dying:

“The guy said, I’m (the driver’s father), and he’s very broken up, and I need to tell you, and then he said, very matter of factly, that both of your dogs are dead,” Ervin said. “As you can imagine, we were like, ‘what are you talking about? Our dogs are dead?’ And then he said, ‘and since they smelled so bad, I had them cremated.’ And we were like, ‘what do you mean?’ So then he said, ‘I’ve got a video of your dead dogs, if you want me to send it to you.’ And we said, ‘why would we want to see a video of our dead dogs?’”

As it turns out, the crematorium didn’t actually cremate the dogs because they felt that the driver’s story was “fishy.” The dogs are being sent to a California state lab for a necropsy. As for the transport company owner – she apparently was less than sympathetic to the dogs’ owners:

“She was very, almost accusatory, there was no sorrow or remorse,” Ervin said. “She just said, you know, dogs were old… And then she said, ‘the dogs got sick immediately after leaving your house.’ And, in our contract, it states very clearly that if the dogs are sick upon pickup, or if they become sick during the drive, that we will return them to you, because there’s just no reason to bring sick dogs across the country. If they became sick, we were never notified. And at no time did anyone call us and say, you know, ‘the dogs aren’t doing well, and we want to get them to a vet as soon as possible, how can we have your permission?’ I mean, as far as we knew the entire time, they were perfectly fine.”

For now, nobody knows why Penny and Cookie died.

(Family photo)


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4 replies
  1. tamara beinlich says:

    Not to blame the owners but why didn’t they just rent a car and drive them to CA?. Sounds like the driver may have left them in a hot car when he stopped to eat or hit a bar. I would never trust anyone with my dogs.

  2. Barkley's Mom says:

    I’m beginning to think the only way to get your pets safely to your new residence is to take them yourself. This whole story sounds strange, I hope the family is able to get some answers to what happened to both of their dogs.

  3. Dimitri says:

    Remember that CitizenShipper the 3rd Party Online Bidding website should also be held responsible for this happening. They are the one’s who put this deal together in the first place. Read this newest Free Press article. Weren’t they supposed to screening these companies that claim to be EXPERIENCED, CERTIFIED, BONDED & INSURED nonsense??? CitizenShipper has ghosted VIP only now after the fact to avoid bad publicity.

  4. Bunny Peters says:

    When we have moved, we have taken our canine furbabies in the car with us. “Owah Wowah Woo” is HUGE with the canine set!!! We had one trip that was 19 hours of canine serenades???

    We had our horses transported with a service that our veterinary clinic recommended (& they are in the business of equine transportation for race horses, breeding horses between stables)…….. Totally professional (& we happily paid for it)……..

    I wonder why the family didn’t have the dogs in their car to transport to their new home??? I know that Great Danes are large dogs but I would prefer to ship “stuff” & transport living family members in the car.

    From this account, it sounds like this transport service was not well managed. I am very sorry for the loss of these precious treasures……. Great Danes are wonderful companions and these precious treasures deserved much better treatment……

    The manner in which that owner treated this family was disgusting and cruel…….

    I don’t understand why this driver chose to drive a route through Texas??? That was totally out of the way to get to Northern California (Napa is near San Francisco, hundreds of miles north from Los Angeles). I hope a necropsy can help answer the questions about what happened (I wonder if the a/c in the back of the van failed & the dogs had severe heat stroke)…….

    Depending on the necropsy results, I think a fantastic animal attorney would be able to help this family get justice for their precious treasures (sadly they can’t be restored to their lives)……. But this horrible transportation service should be “out of business” ASAP!!!

    Precious treasures, I am very sorry that your lives were stolen from you by human failures…… I am certain that you wondered why your family wasn’t there with you…… I know that you are absolutely in Heaven. Please look for MacKitty and join his wonderful snuggle buddies group and RIP amongst loving friends.


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