CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A beloved pet jumped several stories to its death at an uptown apartment community in Charlotte.
It’s happening more often at high-rise apartments across the country as many communities compete to offer residents an abundance of amenities.
For Rachel Bublitz, it was the 3rd-floor dog park at Uptown 550, located on E. Stonewall Street, that drew her in.
"I honestly picked that apartment because it had the dog park, and I didn’t have to take him outside at night, because it was just me living there by myself," she said. "And because I thought it was safe."
But last month, Bublitz said she’s never felt so scared.
"I was about to walk out of the dog park. I turned back around; he was gone," she said referring to her 1-year-old Aussiedoodle named Rizzo. The dog had jumped over the ledge.
"We look over the ledge, and there he was running, so I thought, oh my God, he’s going to be okay like he’s actually going to survive this. But when I got downstairs, and I was screaming his name thinking he was going to run up to me, because I had just seen him running, but he didn’t. And I found him, and he was laying there," she said, holding back tears.
Bublitz said she rushed Rizzo to Long Animal Hospital, but he didn’t make it.
The dog park at Uptown 550 is roughly three stories high. There’s only a single wall separating the dog park from the ground below.
The wall, measuring 43 inches, meets state building code 10.15 which requires a wall or guardrail to be a minimum 42 inches or 3.5 feet high.
But a Mecklenburg County building inspector NBC Charlotte spoke with said the building code is meant to keep people safe, not dogs. The recommended safe height for dogs is between 5 and 7 feet.
"It was approved, and anyone who owns a dog, like looking back on it now, that wall wasn’t high enough," said Bublitz.
Since the incident, Uptown 550 closed the dog park, telling dog owners it will be undergoing renovations.
"Dogs, I feel like they teach you unconditional love and that is definitely what Rizzo did," said Bublitz.
She's now using the love for her four-legged friend to inspire change.
"I hope that the apartment complex and other apartment complexes in the area will see this story and recognize that this could be a potential problem and change either the infrastructure they have now in dog parks or moving forward make sure that it is really safe for all animals of all sizes, because Rizzo wasn’t that big,” Bublitz said.
Bublitz said she also hopes the change doesn’t end at Uptown 550. Northwood Ravin, the company which owns Uptown 550, for example, also owns 16 additional properties across the country including two others in uptown, including The Catalyst and The Vue.