Why I'll Never Take My Dog To Petsmart Again


Code Monkey
Staff member
As some of the forum regulars might know, my wife & I have a pet dog named Buster, or, as I prefer to call him, Fuzzy Dog. :D Fuzzy is a Bichon Frise & Maltese mix and is essentially a small ball of fur.

A few years back we took him to the local Petsmart to be groomed. When we dropped him off we made a point of telling the person to make sure that when he is crated he does not like anybody reaching towards his head. We requested and were denied being able to wait in the store with him until a groomer was ready for him. Had to be crated, that is their policy, no exceptions. Reluctantly we agreed but warned again repeatedly not reach in and go straight for his head. We also reiterated that we will be in the store waiting.

After about 15 minutes or so we see through the glass partition a groomer carrying Fuzzy out to one of the tables. We didn't want to spook him & get excited if he saw us so we walked around the store while waiting.

We wait to be paged that he is ready... nothing. Wait... nothing. Go back to check his status and are told that he is done but had to be flagged in their system as aggressive. Why I ask? Because when they crated him and reach in for him by the collar he growled. Yeah, really? Like we said would happen if you reach for his head? If the groomer was concerned why didn't they call us on the cell phone number that was provided or page us since we said several times that we'd be waiting in the store? Not their policy. GGgggrrrr..... :mad:

OK, a semi-bad experience, yes, but it didn't alarm us too much then because we normally take him to a private groomer who works out of her house and is somebody we know personally & trust fully. He seemed OK so we didn't think much about it.

So why my anti-Petsmart stance? Because of what happened on a subsequent trip to the store.

As we were walking around the store on a different visit to pick up supplies we could see a groomer carrying a small dog out onto one of the grooming tables. The dog was shaking a bit but not barking. Couldn't tell you if it was whimpering or whining because you can't hear inside of the grooming area when you are on the outside.

The grooming table itself is a metal brushed aluminum table about five feet high. On one corner of the table is a metal pole that goes straight up. Attached to the top of the pole is leash that they put around the animals neck as a lead. It is not a collar or harness but just a simple loop. I don't know what the material is even if I guessed since customers can't get that close to the tables.

As the groomer put the loop around the dogs neck it was obvious that it was scared. It was shaking and kept trying to get closer to her but she would move it back to the center of the table.

At this point it is where it becomes a blur.

The groomer was moving away from the table and, whether the dog ran towards her or shook itself uncontrollably, I can't say, but the dog ended up dangling in mid-air suspended by the loop around his neck! :eek: The dog was panicking and the groomer did nothing. After what seemed like an eternity the dog went limp and only then did the groomer pick it up and put it back on the table. I think both my wife & I were in a state of shock for a few seconds at least! We could see the dog moving after it was put back on the table and the groomer then proceeded as if nothing unusual just occurred.

The scene took place so fast and was so shocking that at the time I did not even have the sense of mind to react. Reporting it to the store manager, or anybody, would have been a waste since it would have been our word against the several groomers in the room who did nothing. It is something that haunts me a little bit every time I hear that somebody we know is taking their pet to Petsmart or another of the big-box retailers.

After today I think I will be haunted even more. :cry:

A California lawsuit has been filed against PetSmart claiming that their dog was strangled while being groomed in the store.

A Downey couple has filed a lawsuit alleging that PetSmart is responsible for the death of Rita, their 4-month-old English Bulldog puppy.

The couple, Veronica Espinoza and John Benitez, brought Rita to the PetSmart in Downey for grooming about 8 a.m. on May 12, 2011, according to court documents.

The puppy was "energetic, happy and high-spirited" when she was dropped off, the documents state.

But about 10 a.m., Benitez received a call from PetSmart, advising him that Rita was vomiting blood and needed the attention of a veterinarian.

Benitez arrived and saw Rita getting her ears cleaned. She was having trouble breathing, according to the lawsuit.

"She was gasping for air and she was throwing up blood," Benitez told KTLA.

Benitez asked a PetSmart employee about Rita's breathing problems and he was allegedly told, "It's nothing. These bulldogs always have breathing problems."

Benitez took Rita to a clinic, where she died about 11:45 a.m. that same day.

The veterinarian told Benitez "...something had happened. He just didn't know what," Benitez said.

Benitez took his dead puppy right back to PetSmart.

Employees later took Rita's remains to Banfield Pet Hospital in Whittier, where a necropsy was conducted.

When the results came back, PetSmart told Benitez Rita died of natural causes, he said.

Benitez and Espinoza obtained a necropsy report, which told a different story, according to Jill Ryther, their attorney.

"An independent vet looks at (the report) and says, (Rita) was strangled," Ryther said.

That vet determined Rita suffered lacerations to her neck during a strangling and even lost consciousness, according to Ryther.

CPR was attempted and as a result, Rita's trachea was pushed out of line by two inches, she claimed.

And when she called Banfield Pet Hospital so she could privately cremate Rita's remains, Espinoza claimed she was told that wouldn't be possible.

"They did it themselves," Espinoza said. "I was livid. I was screaming. I was so upset."

PetSmart does not agree with Benitez and Espinoza's account of what happened to Rita.

"The facts as represented in the recently distributed press release by an attorney are not what we believe to be true relative to this unfortunate situation," said Michelle Friedman, a PetSmart spokeswoman.

"As a practice, however, PetSmart does not comment on pending litigation."

"The death of English Bulldog puppy, Rita, is a tragic loss for her family," Friedman continued. "Many of us at PetSmart are pet parents, and no words can express our deep sorrow for their loss."
The parts in bold above will be on mind when I get home tonight and give Fuzzy a hug.
PetCo isn't better.... seems that they have lost a customer's dog and don't seem to care about it. :eek:


It's not just airlines that fail at keeping a handle on customers' pets. Just ask the Texas man who took his retriever in to his local Petco for some grooming and is now looking for help trying to find the lost pooch.

The man tells KXAN-TV that he dropped off his dog at Petco around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. Within a couple of hours, he was getting calls from Petco which he missed but assumed was just the store letting him know the grooming had been completed.

So when he went to pick up his canine companion at 2 p.m. that day, he was shocked to learn that the dog had gotten free and lost in the field behind the store.

"I just showed up and she was gone," he tells KXAN. "I wouldn't have even dreamt that something like this would happen."

While the Petco general manager helped the customer in his fruitless search of the field, the dog's owner says he didn't even get an apology.

Other than that first day, he says Petco workers have not helped in his search for the dog, and the store is no longer returning his calls.

The customer is beginning to wonder if there is more to the story than just sloppy pet-handling. He's now asking to see surveillance video from inside the Petco.

The KXAN website has more information about the dog and who to contact if anyone in the area has seen it.​
It's awkward that a dog is just considered "property" legally. There is an organisation here dedicated to stamping out cruelty to animals and following through with laws they help force into place to make it a criminal act, but this sort of negligent situation must be a nightmare to the owner, particularly if a business just turns their head away (lack of apology)