NORWALK (CBS) — A couple has filed a lawsuit against a Downey PetSmart, claiming that a groomer injured their puppy so severely that it died.

The civil suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that the 4-month-old English Bulldog named Rita, suffered injuries while in the pet store’s care that led to her death.

According to the complaint, the unnamed plaintiffs brought their “healthy and happy puppy to PetsMart for a grooming” on May 12, 2011.

rita 3 PetsMart Sued Over Alleged Grooming Death Of Puppy At Downey Store

(credit: Jill Ryther, ESQ)

“Shortly after dropping her off, they received a call that she was vomiting blood and that they should pick her up and take her to a veterinarian,” said Jill Ryther, attorney for the plaintiffs who specializes in animal law.

The couple brought the puppy to a veterinarian where she died 45 minutes later.

A necropsy was performed on the dog and it was determined the cause of death was likely strangulation that occurred while she was being groomed at the Downey PetsMart,12126 Lakewood Boulevard, the lawsuit claims.

The plaintiffs also allege PetsMart ordered the puppy be cremated before the owners could retrieve her body.

The “plaintiffs were horrified, as this was done against their wishes, beliefs and without their consent,” Ryther said.

The couple is seeking damages upwards of $25,000 from PetsMart, said Ryther.

“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.  As a practice, however, PetSmart does not comment on pending litigation,” Michelle Friedman, spokesperson for PetsMart, said.

The lawsuit also claims “PetsMart has been under fire as well as sued in the past for similar incidents.”

rita 2 PetsMart Sued Over Alleged Grooming Death Of Puppy At Downey Store

(credit: Jill Ryther, ESQ)


Comments (24)
  1. greg says:

    how does Petsmart request cremation on a dog that isn’t theirs? That part makes no sense, I will wait ti hear

    1. cindy says:

      My best guess is that the store was billed for the treatment of the animal and thus the vet took their wish and cremated the dog. but then that is just my guess

    2. Bella's_Owners says:

      Honestly, My Wife had a similar incident at PetsMart store in East Palmdale on 47th Street on last March 6th of this year. Luckily my Wife and my daughter saw thru the glass how the groomer was treating our 4 month old dog.
      When my wife complained to the Groomer, her response was that the dog was uncooperative.
      My wife picked up our dog immediately, and left the store.
      Easy and simple: If the Employees at these stores don’t like animals. They should not work there.
      We finally found a small store with very friendly staff.

      1. lisa d. says:

        Uncooperative???? Do these people have not experience with puppies???? Puppies are uncooperative with grooming–that’s just how they are. Being rough with them will only cause them to be uncooperative older dogs who are scared of the groomer! I have a curly coated dog who still doesn’t like being groomed, but he cooperates because I was very patient with him when he was little. You give little treats. You talk softly. Your wife did exactly the right thing! Animals should not have to suffer injury (or worse, death) at the hands of a groomer!

  2. lisa d. says:

    I stopped taking my dogs to petsmart grooming after my boy came home with a fairly deep cut on each side of his face. The bleeding had been stopped with styptic powder, but I had not been told. Thankfully, I discovered it within a day and was able to keep and eye on it and put antiseptic on it. I understand that things happen, but to not be told was unacceptable.

  3. Joe says:

    What is wrong with PetSmart??? There’s an incident in Simi Valley last month with broken tail and another one in San Jose with a broken leg!!! BOYCOTT THEM!!

  4. READYELP says:

    Read the YELP reviews and decide if it’s worth saving $10.

  5. Shoe says:

    PetSmart will settle this in a heartbeat.
    $25K??? A mere pittance.
    Poor puppers. 😦

  6. lisa d. says:

    My guess would be that they used Banfield pet clinic–which is located right next to the grooming facility inside the store. Banfield may have cremated the body because they too were abetting in covering up evidence that could be used against the store. However, pets are considered “property” in California and I hope that they owners sue the hell out of the vet clinic!

  7. FED UP says:

    They’re suing for only $25,000? All of the pet owners that have suffered at the hands of petsmart should get together bring a class action lawsuit against them and sue for millions of dollars. Why aren’t the pet groomers being charged with animal abuse after each incident? Just firing them is not enough, they should be prosecuted.

  8. Tyler says:

    Poor puppy. They should close all these so called pet stores. they have high prices and their help stinks. I would never take my dog to a pet store groomer. They don’t know how to handle dogs or groom them. Rest in peace puppy.

  9. Andrea says:

    Petsmart trains their groomers in a 20 day crash course they call an “Acadamy” .
    They are then turned loose on the pet owning public. Another little known fact. Petsmart uses something called a productivity calculator to assign quotas to each groomer. This information came to me from a former Petsmart grooming manager. In some stores, the groomers are expected to handle 14 dogs per day. The bottom line: Pet owners need to educate themselves before handing their dog over for grooming. Don’t choose your groomer by the lowest price or who can do it right now. Ask lots of questions first!

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