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PetSmart Sued After Grooming Mishap Nearly Cost Dog Her Life

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A California woman is suing PetSmart after a routine trip to the groomer nearly cost her emotional support dog her life.

Winter Petsmart
Winter with bows in her hair and following emergency surgery. Images via Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy/Sherrilyn Miller.

On July 23, 2019, Sherrilyn Miller took her 2-year old Maltese/Shih Tzu mix, Winter, to a PetSmart store in San Leandro, California to be bathed and groomed. Miller paid an extra $3 to have adorable little bows put in Winter’s’ hair at each ear.

When she picked up her dog, Miller remarked about how well-secured the bows were. By the next morning, however, Winter was lethargic and had fluid seeping from her fluffy ears. That’s when Miller discovered the rubber bands wound tightly around her dog’s ears instead of to the fur as they should have been.

She rushed her emotional support dog to the vet where she learned that emergency surgery would be required.

The rubber bands had stopped blood flow to Winter’s ears. Both were severely inflamed and had blood blisters. The veterinarian made several punctures all over her ears to allow the blisters to drain. According to the vet, Winter would have certainly lost both ears if Miller hadn’t noticed the problem and brought her in. In 24-hours, Winter could have died.

“Now I have an emotional support dog that needs more emotional support than I do,” Miller told The Mercury News. Winter is now fearful, untrusting of people she doesn’t know, requires constant attention, and cries and howls if left alone.

PetSmart admitted to wrongdoing, explaining the the groomer responsible was a new employee and had been through expedited training.

In her lawsuit, Miller is asking for improved training and supervision of its’ groomers. She is also demanding they discontinue the use of hair bows, and only offer bandannas instead. “Just stop doing them; it’s simple,” Miller said. “You can’t continuously hurt or kill our loved ones. … It’s not worth the $3. To me, this is so cut and dry.”

PetSmart paid for Winter’s surgery and medical expenses and offered free grooming appointments.

PetSmart did not comment on the pending litigation.

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