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Dog Dies After Being Groomed at PetSmart

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Cindi Tousel had taken her 6-year old Newfoundland to the same groomer at a Mentor, Ohio PetSmart for several years. So when it was time once again for Gracie’s routine grooming, Cindi took the love of her life back to the same store she’d always used.

This time, however, Gracie’s normal groomer was on vacation. Concerned, Cindi interviewed the groomer that was working to make sure her dog would be in good hands.

Four and half hours after dropping her dog off, Cindi received a call from PetSmart, urging her to rush her dog to an emergency veterinarian.

When Cindi picked up her dog, she was drooling heavily, her gait was off. It was immediately obvious that something was wrong.

The veterinarian found Gracie’s body temperature to be 109-degrees. A dog’s normal body temperature is 102.

Because Newfoundlands are notorious for being sensitive to the heat, Cindi always had Gracie’s coat trimmed in the summer months. She instructed the new groomer not to use a blow dryer to dry the dog, knowing that the heat could be too much.

While Cindi doesn’t know for certain that a heated blow dryer was used, she said Gracie was completely dry when she was picked up.

Gracie’s organs began shutting down as a result of being overheated and the Tousel family, including several Pugs and a new puppy, had to say goodbye to their best friend.

Meanwhile, PetSmart has offered to pay all of Gracie’s veterinary expenses. Corporate offices have been in touch with the Tousels and have sent flowers. Cindi is considering her options moving forward, but hopes that some good will come out of this tragedy, that PetSmart will keep the areas where dogs are held cool and comfortable, and will monitor the dogs for stress and overheating.

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  1. Avatar Of Debra O’shea

    Debra O’Shea


    Pet Smart almost killed my dog during a grooming. We rushed her to a hospital and they manage to save her. Pet Smart never had the decency to respond to my letters requesting an apology and reimbursement for her hospital bills. They are truly criminal. Their grooming facilities are a joke and should not be patronized by anyone who has a dog that can get overheated.

  2. Avatar Of Morgan



    Petsmart does not have any kind of heated dryer. Just recerulated air…

  3. Avatar Of Sarah



    First of all who knows what happened, if this story is even remotely credible in the first place. This story is full of holes. I used to work for petsmart and now I work for a private salon. Petsmart have a policy that they can’t send dogs home damp, and without using the high velocity dryer on a Newfie’s coat, there is NO WAY that the dog would be dry going home, EVER. If this lady had her regular groomer never dry the dog, the groomer would not be able to even groom it at petsmart. Second, if a dog has a serious health condition that prevents a groomer from safely doing any part of the grooming process (except for maybe nails which the groomer can just avoid doing), they are obligated to turn the dog away and recommend vet grooming or possibly at home grooming depending on the condition. At the petsmart where I worked we never would have groomed this dog, not even once. If someone had come in with a Newfie, which are already a LOT of work to dry, and told a groomer that they couldn’t use the dryer on the dog, they probably would inwardly laugh because that is impossible, beyond impossible.
    The third and most important thing is that this lady should never have taken her Newfie who had health issues to any normal grooming salon. She should have gone to a vet, or had a groomer come to her home to minimize stress. If this story is true, then it is sad for the lady, but she has to take some responsibility as well. There are things she should have done differently that would have prevented this situation.

  4. Avatar Of Trace



    That said, the dog should never be overheated. EVER. With forced air you keep it moving quickly, cage drying should not be heated. Bear in mind that PetSmart persons have policies and procedures to follow…. it’s like putting you dog through the sweat shop. Buyers beware. Unfortunately.

    I would only trust my pet to a particular groomer, or a grooming salon where everyone and their policies are in line with pet first aid and CPR practices.

    My thoughts are with the pet owner.


  5. Avatar Of Trace



    Never judge a story when it hasn’t been researched. For all we know the entire store is an urban myth (like Alligators under New York City). A Newfies coat should be regularly groomed ( undercoat etc. cleaned out) and it would not overheat. Shaving the natural coat puts more pressure on the pet parent to understand what this means. It affects their ability to self moderate their heat. Most groomers used forced air dryers to “blow” the water off the coat (and the second stage of cleaning out the undercoat), and/ or non heated cage dryers (less professional). Hair dryers are used for show grooming or the Kijiji/classified people who claim themselves to be groomers. Don’t jump the gun. Do your research.

  6. Avatar Of Jeff



    All of these people on here bashing PetSmart, it’s funny to me how the poor judgement of a single HUMAN is taken in regards to the entire company. There are soooo many policies and procedures in place at PetSmart to ensure the safety of EVERY single animal that even walks in the door, but especially in services departments. The dryers used are forced air dryers not hearing dryers ( a billion dollar company isn’t stupid and they do their research). The salon would have dropped everything and taken the dog to the vet at the first signs of stress and notified the pet parent while the animal was currently on the way. Some of this story doesn’t add up to what I know is policy at PetSmart but accidents do happen and people do make mistakes. PetSmart offers to pay for everything though as a gesture that the animals are what we love about our jobs. Whether or not it was their fault this gesture is extended every time as they know that these so called pets are our family! Their slogan says it all, ” At PetSmart we believe that pets make us better people. That’s why we create more moments for people to be inspired by pets.”
    So don’t go bashing the company over the mistake of one store or a single person who works for the company.

  7. Avatar Of Sherry Sherry says:

    I don’t know where you all are reading that she had her Newfie shaved, I read that she had it groomed. Big difference. I take my dog to be groomed, and she gets her hair trimmed not shaved. I read the article twice and I dont see shaved anywhere in it. So before you yell at her like that, read the dang article.

  8. Avatar Of Renee



    I had a bad experience with grooming my Shih Tzu at a PetSmart. They don’t all operate with the same integrity. My Cairn Terrier was traumatized at a different PetSmart. I use my vets office now for all grooming.

  9. Avatar Of Valerie Valerie says:

    Shaving a dog like a Newfoundland damages their double-coat and leaves them MORE prone to heat stroke. Do your research. Don’t blame the groomer. We HATE shaving double-coated dogs and only do it because the owners won’t listen to us when we list all the health risks. They just want less hair to have to deal with and to feel like they are helping their dog stay cooler. You know what I tell my customers? Not having hair doesn’t keep you safe from the sun and heat. Even camels have hair. Nuf said.

  10. Avatar Of Melanie



    You shouldn’t post this without fact-checking first. While accidents happen at ALL groomers, whether they’re private or corporate, this particular situation was due to the bad judgement of ONE groomer. PETsMART does not use heated dryers, but the overuse of a dryer can cause the air to heat up. This is why the dogs are given frequent breaks (both so they and the equipment can rest). The fact that the groomer continued to dry the dog is their own poor judgement and does not reflect the entire company’s ability to properly care for dogs. In my 10 years of grooming I have had more clients have incidents at private shops than I have at PetCo or PetSmart. This is because private shops often do not practice salon safety policies and usually stick to a “whatever you have to do to groom the dog, do it” policy. This is very sad and the poor dog lost it’s life, but the fact that people are rallying against an entire company because of it is outrageous. I have a client whose dog’s ear was cut off and haphazardly attempted to be glued back on by a groomer at a private shop. They also muzzle and kennel dry breeds that are considered breathing challenged, and which petsmart has policies against. Like I said, sad story but incidents happen everywhere.

  11. Avatar Of Abby



    Marks comment is ight on. That being said there are a lot of bad groomers out there and everywhere not just PetSmart! They paid expenses not to admit fault but as a curtisey to a grieving parent. Petsmart uses the exact same dryers as every other groomer. until or unless they do an autopsy on the dog you have no idea who or what to blame! Don’t point fingers because it’s a big company and your looking for someone to blame,there is defiantly way more to this story. And there are always two sides. People have bad experiences every day and everywhere, but you don’t see someone running to the news because they got a bad coffee.

  12. Avatar Of Mark



    Unfortunate situation but several things wing with this story. Petsmart doesn’t use dryers with heating elements. 2. Would never tell customer to come and take dog to emergency vet. If problem had occurred dog would have been taken to a vet by petsmart. 3. Shaving a Newfie is wrong and doesn’t cool it down for the summer. That’s a myth. If no dryers was ever used in the past a Newfie would leave soaking wet. I think there is more to this story than being told.

  13. Avatar Of Cheryl



    I saw with my own eyes a dog groomer at the PetSmart in Attleboro MA drag a dog by its leash through the grooming department and then proceeded to lift up on the leash that was still attached to the dogs neck in order to get her on the grooming table. She didn’t even physically lift the dog she pulled the leash up to the level of the table with the dog still attached. She never even touched the dog to put her on the table. I was horrified. I tried everything to file a complaint but noting was ever done. I thankfully never took my dog to be groomed at a PetSmart and just from what I witnessed I never will.

  14. Avatar Of Wendy



    I am so sorry for the loss of Gracie. Anytime you leave your dog with a person for care or grooming, you expect the dog to be normal when you return. Clearly, something very wrong happened and that is why Petsmart is willing to pay for all the expenses. Very sad.

  15. Avatar Of Mikki



    I worked for Petsmart at 3 different locations. They have blow dryers but nothing that would raise a Newfies temp like that. The Kennel dryers use cool air. I feel for the owners but wonder what happened .

  16. Avatar Of Renee



    I have only taken my dog to the PetSmart once, and never again.

  17. Avatar Of Teresa



    I am surprised PetSmart offered to pay for anything. At certain shops, their groomers are the worst! They traumatized my Cairn Terrier some months back. When I called the manager after a frantic time at the vets, he said oh, so what do you want me to do about it? Corporate HQ did not respond to that when I complained, in writing.

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