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Officials are investigating the sudden, unexplained death of a healthy dog during a routine nail trim at a Rhode Island Petco grooming salon last week.
“All we know is that the dog went in as an otherwise healthy dog,” Joe Warzycha, an RISPCA Animal Cruelty Officer explained.
According to Warzycha, Ollie, a 5-year old Pug, had been coming to the Middletown Petco to be groomed for several years. On Sunday, his owner dropped him off at the grooming center as usual while she went into the store to shop.
“(The owner) came back to check on the dog, (and) dog was not finished with the appointment. Everything appeared to be fine at that time, (so she) went back to do some more shopping,” Warzycha said.
Several minutes later, Ollie’s owner returned to the grooming center to find Ollie laying on the ground with two grooming technicians kneeling by his side. He was dead.
His owner asserted, and veterinary records confirmed, that Ollie was apparently healthy and had no known pre-existing medical conditions that might have contributed to his death. A necropsy was performed to determine Ollie’s cause of death.
After necropsy results were revealed, Petco issued the following statement:
“Based on the preliminary autopsy results from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, we can confirm that there was no evidence of trauma to Ollie’s head or neck. As is the case with all Pugs, Ollie had what is called brachycephalic syndrome. The results show that his soft palate was much longer than normal, which causes blockage of the airway and makes it difficult to breathe. As a result of this information, we do not believe the actions of the pet stylist who trimmed Ollie’s nails, nor any other store partners were responsible for his untimely passing. Our thoughts are with Ollie’s family during this difficult time.”
The Rhode Island SPCA agreed that there didn’t appear to be any signs of malice or intent, but will still interview the two Petco grooming technicians present at the time of Ollie’s death, as well as a manager, as part of their investigation.
Although no other deaths or injuries have been reported at the Rhode Island Petco store where Ollie died, Petco is no stranger to sudden and accidental deaths at their grooming salons. Last year an otherwise healthy Jack Russell terrier died during a routine nail trim at a California store, and a Golden Retriever died in 2015 after being forgotten in a drying cage at a Virginia location.
This story will be updated as the investigation continues.