Dog dies from overheating during Petco grooming, owner says

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A family is blaming human error by a groomer for their young golden retriever's tragic death. (WTVR-TV) (KTRK)

Allison Marks left her 2-year-old golden retriever, Colby, at a Petco store Friday for what she thought would be a routine grooming. When she called to ask about him, though, she was told to go to a nearby animal hospital. There she learned Colby had passed away.

Marks was told by the veterinarian that Colby had likely suffered a heat stroke after being left in a heated cage to dry.

"It sickens me that they could just let something like this happen," she said. "How could he not suffer? He was in a cage for God knows how long."

Marks said the vet explained to her that Colby's temperature was more than 105 degrees one hour after his death.

An assistant manager from Petco was weeping at the vet alongside Marks at the animal hospital, WTVR reports. The groomer originally assigned to Colby, though, had left to go to a graduation party, Marks said.

Petco began its investigation and released the following statement to ABC affiliate WRIC, claiming responsibility but stating that no heat was used in the grooming process:
    All of us at Petco remain deeply upset by Colby's passing. We have strict protocols in place to ensure the well-being of pets in our grooming salons, and we take it very seriously when those protocols are not followed. The groomers involved have been suspended while we complete a thorough investigation, and we are in contact with the pet parents and coordinating with local Animal Services to understand what happened in this terrible situation. It's important to know we do not use heated dryers in any Petco grooming salons, and we can confirm there was no heat used in the drying process during Colby's groom, but other details are still being investigated. Our thoughts continue to be with Colby's family at this difficult time.

Marks, meanwhile, is grieving the loss of her companion.

"You can't replace a dog like that. He was the most lovable dog ever."

Marks said she is considering pressing charges. She is sharing her story in hopes that it won't happen to any other pet owners.

"He was my shadow. He followed me everywhere," she said. "He was my next soulmate."

On Thursday, Petco released a statement regarding Colby's death, stating that the employee was no longer with the company, but that no heat had been used in the grooming salon dryer.

At Petco, we know that pet parents entrust us thousands of times each day to provide quality care for their pets. To deliver on that promise, we have strict protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of all animals in our stores and grooming salons. As animal lovers, we're saddened and deeply concerned about what happened to Colby last Friday, and we're committed to doing everything in our power to prevent this kind of tragedy from ever happening again.

After a thorough investigation, it's clear our animal care protocols were not followed when it came to Colby. As a result, the individuals directly involved are no longer part of our company.
While we've confirmed that no heat was used, and is not used in any of our grooming salon dryers, as an additional measure, the type of kennel dryer Colby was housed in has been removed from service in all Petco stores.

We are also using this incident to reinforce our standards of care, and will be conducting nationwide sessions to reinforce this training with grooming salon team members in every Petco store next week.

We take full responsibility for what happened in Midlothian, and remain heartbroken over Colby's untimely passing. Pet parents place their trust in us, and we realize that trust is earned. We understand there is no way to make up for the loss of Colby, and our thoughts continue to be with his family during this difficult time.
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