Canine Rights

Two Dogs Dead, 1 Injured After Grooming at New Jersey PetSmart

Two dogs have died and a third was seriously injured following separate grooming appointments at a New Jersey PetSmart store in December.


Between December 22 and 29 of last year, three separate dog owners dropped their dogs off at the Flemington, New Jersey PetSmart store for three separate grooming appointments. That week, two dogs died following their appointments and a third suffered serious injuries.

Danielle DiNapoli dropped off her healthy, 8-year old English Bulldog, Scruffles, at the Flemington PetSmart store at approximately 9:45am on December 29.

DiNapoli got a phone call less than an hour later at 10:35am informing her that Scruffles was at Flemington Veterinary Hospital. She raced to the hospital to find her dog dead. Scruffles, the veterinarian said, was dead upon arrival.

What’s more, after dropping Scruffles’ body at the vet, the PetSmart employees simply left before DiNapoli arrived, leaving no explanation of what happened. When they contacted PetSmart for information, the family were told that the matter is under investigation. They have been unable to speak to the groomer to understand what happened to Scruffles.

Erin Gray, PetSmart senior corporate communications manager, said upon the dog’s death, PetSmart immediately conducted a comprehensive internal investigation, which found the associates involved followed “all policies and procedures.”

DiNapoli posted the story to Facebook:

Scruffles’ body is currently undergoing a necropsy in hopes of determining a cause of death.

Just days before Scruffles’ death, Tara Fiet brought her happy, healthy dog, Ranger, to the same Flemington PetSmart for a grooming appointment before Christmas. When he came home, Fiet said Ranger was lethargic, but she assumed he was just tired from all the holiday excitement and the grooming.

Ranger unexpectedly died 2 days later on Christmas Eve. After learning of Scruffles’ death, Tara Fiet realized, too late, that Ranger’s grooming appointment may have somehow contributed to his death.

And, on December 22, David Bolduc took his 8-year old Shih Tzu, George, to the same Flemington PetSmart store to be groomed. Shortly after dropping him off, the store called Bolduc and told him that George had tried to bite the groomer and needed to be picked up.

Bolduc said that biting was out of character for the normally friendly Shih Tzu, who regularly gets groomed elsewhere.

When he picked George up, Bolduc said he was obviously in severe pain, arching his back to keep from putting any weight on his back legs. George was immediately taken to his veterinarian where it was discovered he’d suffered a serious spine injury. George was administered heavy pain and anti-inflammatory medication and ordered to remain caged for the next 10 days.

When Bolduc called PetSmart for answers, he was told that nothing had happened. Following news media coverage, Bolduc says PetSmart’s corporate office reached out and offered to pay George’s medical expenses.

“We are saddened to learn of these concerns and have reached out to the pet parents to express our sympathy,” PetSmart said in a statement. “We take the health and safety of pets in our care very seriously, and we are working to fully understand the circumstances related to the issues raised by these pet parents.”

PetSmart grooming salons around the country are no strangers to injury and death of dogs in their care. Last year, a Chihuahua died following a simple nail trim procedure at a California store, a Dachshund was strangled to deathonly minutes after arriving to be groomed, and a Newfoundland died of heat stroke following a grooming at an Ohio store.



  1. Joan

    Jan 10, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Terrible,that our babies are not safe with these groomers. I will never take my dogs to any Petsmart

    • Doesn’t matter

      Jan 12, 2018 at 11:16 am

      This just isn’t factual at all.
      As someone who works for pet smart, I know that their associates go thru vigorous testing before they are even allowed to bathe a dog.
      Then you must wash atleast 125 dogs before even being considered for their school. After academy you must work under a supervising groomer for over 200 dogs before even being considered a groomer there.
      Pet smart has strict safety procedures and trains their employees to closely monitor animals for any signs of stress. They go above and beyond to ensure the pets in their care get treated as one of their own.
      I’m not sure what happened at this place-but I KNOW this isn’t a regular occurrence or how things go down at Pet Smart. And before people start a witch hunt over an internet article-that they should keep in mind there are A plethora of customers leaving pet smarts on the daily-happy with their services and happy with how our associates handled their pet babies. And that there are tons of good employees that truly care and are just trying to do their jobs-that get lumped in these witch hunts that don’t deserve it.

      • Susan

        Jan 16, 2018 at 5:22 pm

        I’m a salon leader at Pet Smart and have 26years experience in grooming ( grad of NY School of Dog Grooming). I am still an absolute fool for dogs and cats. I had a successful grooming business of off my home for 20 yrs. .y husband and I decided I relocate and I took the position at Pet Smart. It was an adjustment for me due to the initial training and safety precautions I’m more confident in my daily grooming And managing of my associates, knowing that the pets safety is #1.

  2. Marsha Menges

    Jan 10, 2018 at 3:21 am

    I took Buddy my 11 month old Cairn Terrier to have a grooming at the Petsmart in Avondale,Arizona. I picked him up and took him home. they were praising his behavior and gave him High marks on his GRADE CARD. However upon getting him home I noticed he seemed to be in a little bit of pain. I checked him out and found they had cut him with the razor or scissors, enough to bleed. I was never told they did this nor did they admit to it. I have stopped taking him there as I do not take him somewhere to be hurt.

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