For those with pets, leaving them with strangers for any length of time can cause anxiety. When a dog owner drops their beloved pet off at a groomer, they should feel comfortable those caring for their animal are competent and capable. They shouldn’t have to worry whether their dog will survive the visit. Unfortunately for the dog owners in this story, they experienced the unthinkable.

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Posted by PetSmart on Saturday, December 2, 2017

Studies have proven humans feel more empathy and compassion for animals than they do for their fellow human beings. An alarming story has emerged in the press recently about the popular chain, PetSmart that has put many pet owners on high alert. According to Today, PetSmart has faced animal mistreatment allegations after four pets died during grooming appointments while in the store’s custody. These deaths have occurred over the past five months. All but one were at PetSmart locations in New Jersey.

Pet owner Chuck Crawford, told, his 8-year-old corgi, Abby died as recently as March 29. Crawford was displeased with how the chain broke the news of Abby’s death. “It was a 20-second phone call. It was so crude and beyond comprehension. To take your pet for grooming and have them die? That is the absolute worst thing.”

He brought both of his corgis in for grooming appointments. His one dog, Harley wasn’t harmed. Crawford found it disturbing when he wasn’t able to retrieve Abby from the same location. He was sent to another store.

Petsmart released a statement explaining their version of what happened. “When Abby became unresponsive, our associates took her to a neighboring PetSmart store with an in-store veterinarian. We are deeply saddened by Abby’s passing, and we are in constant contact with  her pet parent during this very difficult time.”

Posted by Tara Fiet on Monday, December 25, 2017

Other negative stories have since come to light. “A woman named Danielle DiNapoli also posted her experiences with her dog, Scruffles, in a Facebook post from December 30th, 2017 which has since gone viral. Under similar circumstances, DiNapoli  reports that her dog was also going in for a standard grooming when the unthinkable happened:

“My beautiful, healthy scruffles died yesterday at Pet Smart in Flemington Nj while getting a standard grooming. Pet smart refuses to answer any questions regarding her passing and only states it’s under investigation. We have asked to speak to the groomer and a report of what happened during her last hours on earth. They refuse to give us information. Please share if anyone has witnessed our baby yesterday at PetSmart in Flemington at 9:45 am – 10:40 am pls inbox me. Please help us❤”

Dog owners Tara Fiet and David Bolduc also took their pets to the same store in Flemington. Fiet’s dog, Ranger, came home and appeared under the weather and lethargic. He died shortly afterward. While Bolduc’s dog, George suffered an unexplained back injury after his appointment. In all these instances, PetSmart inadequately explained what occurred during the grooming appointments to cause these injuries and subsequent deaths. As a result, the DiNapoli family has filed a lawsuit against the pet chain.

This case is still open. Let it serve as a PSA for all pet owners. Particularly for those who live in the area of those affected stores.