Digger the dog has yet to be reunited with his Palatine family, but a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed over his 2015 escape from a boarding facility.
Todd Caponi placed Digger, a German shepherd-Beagle mix, and two other dogs at Baxter & Beasley on Colfax Street in Palatine before a family vacation in California. As Caponi, his wife and children were entering Disneyland in Anaheim on Aug. 5, 2015, he received a call from Baxter & Beasley informing them of Digger's disappearance.
The suit, filed in August 2016, blames negligence by the boarding facility and Waste Management Inc. for the dog's escape.
Under the settlement, Baxter & Beasley will pay about $3,750 to Caponi. His attorney, William Gibbs, said Waste Management's settlement amount cannot be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement.
"I think as a general proposition, boarding facilities do have great care and concern for the pets that are entrusted to them," Gibbs said. "But when incidents happen, I think it's important that the facilities accept responsibility and are accountable for the significant loss that they cause."
Digger's family remains skeptical of Baxter & Beasley's explanation that Digger might have escaped by scaling an 8-foot fence. It also was alleged that a garbage collector for Waste Management may have left a gate open.
"We hold out hope that he's out there somewhere and that maybe someday, somewhere, somebody scans him," Caponi said of Digger, who was born in March 2011 and had a microchipped implanted in him for identification purposes.
Baxter & Beasley attorney Terrence Guolee said the business's employees helped look for Digger and posted flyers calling attention to his disappearance. He believes the settlement is a way to remedy what happened and that "people would go on with their lives."
But Baxter & Beasley once again is being unfairly targeted in negative social media posts, he said.
"My people really just want to move forward," Guolee said. "They sent their condolences. Way before the lawsuit was filed, they apologized for what happened. They are dog-loving people who hate that this happened. Their lives are spent taking care of animals."
Caponi defended what he's written about Baxter & Beasley on social media.
"We wanted our dog back," he said, "and they made it really, really hard on us. We want the world to know that."
Soon after returning from the vacation in 2015, Caponi received a scare when he was called to identify a dead animal floating in a pond in front of Little Sisters of the Poor on Northwest Highway in Palatine. The animal turned out to be a raccoon.
Four psychics, two animal communicators, a couple of pet detectives and 5,000 direct-mail postcards have been part of the effort to find Digger, according to Caponi. He and his wife adopted Digger from a shelter and named him for a hamburger the couple enjoyed in Door County, Wisconsin.
Anyone with information on Digger is asked to call (847) 567-4550. There also is a website, finddigger.com.