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Family Dog Dies While in the Care of Tucson PetSmart PetsHotel

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An Arizona family is desperate for answers after their beloved dog died while in the care of a Tucson PetSmart PetsHotel boarding center.

The family dropped off their dog, Rufus, at a Tucson, Arizona PetSmart PetsHotel at around 6:00pm on July 31st. By 9:00pm, Rufus was dead.

The dog’s owner Kaitlyn Nowak explained on Instagram,

“…We had to leave Rufus at home and decided to take him to the Petsmart PetsHotel, since he has been there before. When my mom and I dropped Rufus off at around 6pm last night, we were already sad. We told the associate at PetSmart that he was going to be anxious and that we were worried about leaving him alone since barely over a year ago we lost our beloved dog Diego, and this would be his first time alone. The lady said they would take great care of him and assured us he would do great. My mom and I watched as they carried him back, and he was still looking for us. When we returned home, we finished packing and a little before 9, we received a call from PetSmart stating that Rufus had got to his harness that was in a plastic cubby on the other side of the door and had eaten it. (It was in his notes that nothing should be in his reach as he will eat things like that when he is nervous- but clearly they ignored those).”

PetSmart told the family they were taking Rufus to an emergency veterinarian to be monitored, but that he was ok, that this was only a precaution. Only 15 minutes later, the family received another call, this time from the emergency veterinarian. Rufus was dead.

“…She said Rufus has been hit by a car, after the PetSmart associate let him get out of her grasp and he bolted into traffic from her car in the parking lot and was fatally hit. She did not follow protocol because she did not put his collar or leash on him and he was not in a crate. They tried to save his life doing CPR and everything imaginable, but he was unresponsive. Getting this call was by far the worst moment I could imagine. Rufus was not ready to leave this earth…”

In a statement to KGUN 9, Erin Gray with PetSmart said, “We are truly sorry for the loss of Rufus, and no words can fully express our deep sorrow for the family. After completing an extensive investigation, we found our associate did not have proper control when removing Rufus from the vehicle during transport to the emergency veterinarian, leading to Rufus’ escape and unfortunate accident. As a result, the individual directly involved in transporting Rufus is no longer employed with PetSmart. Additionally, this incident is being reviewed with the entire Tucson store team to help prevent such an occurrence from happening in the future. We continue to be in touch with Rufus’s family during this very difficult time.”

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