A trip to the groomer can be frightening for dogs and cats, and—as disturbing video footage recently taken at an Atlanta Petco store shows—it can put our beloved animal companions at risk of being abused or even killed. A witness reportedly used her cell phone to record a Petco employee who violently yanked on a dog’s paw and shoved the terrified animal around on a grooming table while trying to clip the animal’s nails. This isn’t the first—and likely won’t be the last—time that an animal has been abused or even killed by a groomer.
PETA’s list of recent groomer abuse incidents is rife with similar horror stories. A two-year-old dog named Colby was recently killed after allegedly being left inside a heated drying cage at a Virginia Petco. According to an assistant manager at the store, a groomer put Colby in the cage and left to attend a graduation ceremony. The dog’s temperature was still 105 degrees an hour after he was killed.A woman in Ohio warned groomers at PetSmart not to dry her Newfoundland (a breed known to be sensitive to heat), but when she picked up her dog, the dog was reportedly dry and was walking unsteadily and drooling before collapsing soon afterward. An emergency veterinarian determined that the dog’s temperature was over 109 degrees and that her organs were shutting down. The dog died the next day. A 9-month-old cocker spaniel reportedly needed staples to close nine deep gashes on her neck and paws after being groomed at a Petco store in Texas. After visiting a California Petco groomer, a 7-year-old shih tzu reportedly couldn’t walk and was dangling one of his legs. X-rays showed that the dog’s hip was dislocated—he had to undergo surgery and extensive rehabilitation. The groomer reportedly admitted to tugging on the dog’s leg during the grooming session. A groomer working at a Missouri veterinarian’s office allegedly threw an 8-pound dog against a wall so hard that she killed the dog. And the list goes on.
The best way to protect our animal companions from enduring similar fates is to learn how to groom our animals ourselves. If that isn’t possible, consider hiring a mobile groomer who makes house calls so that you can watch, participate, and be there to keep your animal comfortable and happy. If you must take your animal to a grooming salon, first check with the Better Business Bureau and do a Google search to see if there are any complaints from past customers.
Whatever you do, always insist on staying with your animal the entire time. Groomers who have nothing to hide should welcome you or let you watch through a viewing window. Never let your animal be taken into the back room without you for any reason. Find an experienced groomer who is confident with his or her skills and knowledgeable about animal behavior. If the groomer appears to be afraid of or impatient with animals, turn tail and take your animal companion home immediately.
Our animals’ safety is too important to leave to chance. Please read PETA’s grooming factsheet for more ways to protect animals from abuse and accidents at the hands of groomers.