Skip to Content

Dog dies after grooming visit at PetSmart


Click here for updates on this story

    PITTSBURGH (WTAE) — A woman who found her dog lifeless on a grooming table in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood in November is speaking out.

“Kobe was a very loving and energetic dog,” A.J. Ross tells Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

Ross took Kobe, a toy poodle, to the PetSmart on Centre Avenue in East Liberty for a routine nail clipping last November.

Ross was told she wasn’t allowed to be with Kobe during the appointment because of COVID-19 rules. Ross ran a quick errand, and when she came back, Kobe was lifeless on the grooming table.

“I scooped him up. And I run out the store, and I was overwhelmed when I left the store in the moment, because I thought if I could just get him outside and get him some fresh air, and I’m like shaking him, maybe he would start breathing again. And he was just, like, lifeless in my arms,” Ross said.

She rushed Kobe to a nearby vet, who tried to revive him, but was unsuccessful.

Ross called Humane Animal Rescue after viewing the video of what happened two weeks after Kobe passed.

Ross says, and the criminal complaint confirms, that Kobe had two leashes placed around his neck from opposite sides, effectively choking him.

Ross says the video shows he had no feet on the grooming table, either.

“It’s extending his neck and choking him and all four paws are suspended. So it’s almost like a doggie paddle, he couldn’t have his feet grounded enough to have any air, for over a minute,” Ross said.

According to the criminal complaint, employees at the PetSmart claim the dog passed out and went limp, but police say video footage showed the dog hanging by two leashes.

Four women are facing charges in connection with the dog’s death.

Heather Rowe, Elizabeth Doty, Julie Miller and Shaphan Stonge have all been charged with cruelty to animals.

A former attorney for Rowe deferred to PetSmart’s statement to Pittsburgh’s Action News 4.

PetSmart released the following statement:

“We are heartbroken by and truly sorry for the loss of Kobe. After this terrible accident, we launched an internal investigation and found unintended failure to adhere to our pet safety processes. Additionally, we cooperated with an external investigation, terminated the responsible associates and facilitated an autopsy to help provide answers.”

Ross says she’s speaking out because she wants stricter rules and regulations for pet groomers in Pennsylvania so what happened to Kobe doesn’t happen to other dogs.

“I don’t want this to occur again,” Ross said.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reached out to the Humane Animal Rescue, who wouldn’t comment on this case.

However, they did give the following suggestions for owners as they make a decision about where they get their pets groomed:

1. May I see your facility?

How does it look? How does it smell? You’ll want to see a well-ventilated salon, clean workstations, sturdy tables and tubs, as well as pet-friendly products. Ask yourself, is this a place I’m comfortable leaving my dog?

2. Besides brushing, shampoo and haircut, what services do you provide?

You’ll want to understand what services a groomer or grooming salon offers. Groomers have the proper tools and knowledge for removing mats, trimming nails and cleaning ears. Professional groomers can make you aware of ear infections, tooth decay, and skin infections.”

3. May I stay and watch while you groom my dog? (With COVID restrictions, this may not be possible)

Your own nerves can make your dog more anxious, but it’s not unreasonable to want to observe, at least the first time. It’s also a good opportunity to observe your dog’s behavior for future visits.

4. Do you have experience with my dog’s breed?

Some breeds have particular grooming needs, so you may want to seek out a groomer who has experience with your specific breed. Ask whether he or she knows what the breed standard is and whether they can perform the correct hair cut for your breed.

5. What kind of training do you have?

Training can vary. Some groomers learn on the job through apprenticeships or mentoring programs. Others attend classes at a pet grooming school. You’ll want to get a sense of the groomer’s experience, training, and knowledge. Don’t shy away from asking any questions you have about your dog’s care.

6. What kind of products do you use?

The preference here is for gentle, high-quality washing and grooming products, with a minimum of harsh chemicals.

7. What type of credentials/certification does the business have?

Low Stress Handling and Restraint or Fear Free Certification or other voluntary continuing education programs are a good sign that the groomer is committed to providing the best and safest services.

8. How will my dog be housed?

Your dog’s safety when outside your care is an important concern. You’ll want to know how your dog will be housed when not on the grooming table. Pets not being groomed must be secured in a crate or in a secure designated play area (with owner’s consent) Your dog should have a crate to himself, with clean padding, plenty of air and in view of salon personnel.

9. What is their emergency procedure? Does the staff have any basic medical and first aid experience?

Of course, you hope it won’t be needed. You want to know if a staff member familiar with first aid is always present. The groomer should ask you about your dog’s health and any medical conditions, such as skin problems, allergies, arthritis, or any other ailments. This helps determine how they’ll handle your dog, what products they’ll use and whether your dog has physical limitations.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content