Danielle DiNapoli was expecting to start the New Year without her beloved dog, Scruffles. But DiNapoli claims that Scruffles died during a grooming appointment at a PetSmart store in Flemington, New Jersey. Now she’s looking for answers.
According to Patch.com, 8-year-old Scruffles had been groomed at the store before, so DiNapoli had no cause for concern. She dropped the bulldog off on December 29 at 9:45 in the morning only to receive a call at 10:30 am that Scruffles had been taken to a local veterinary hospital due to a medical emergency.
DiNapoli told Patch.com that even though she raced to the vet, the bulldog was dead when she arrived. She was told by the vet that Scruffles was dead on arrival at the hospital and that CPR attempts by the staff were unsuccessful.
DiNapoli says that no PetSmart employees were at the veterinary hospital when she arrived and she hasn’t been able to get any answers as to what happened from the company.
“I was in shock. You know, you expect to see your dog happy and healthy and groomed, and I got a dead dog,” DiNapoli told NJ Advanced Media. She says she has grown frustrated at the lack of response from PetSmart.
“Pet smart refuses to answer any questions regarding her passing and only states it’s under investigation. We have asked to speak to the groomer and a report of what happened during her last hours on earth. They refuse to give us information,” she wrote on Facebook.
PetSmart has issued a statement regarding the incident. Erin Gray, PetSmart senior corporate communications manager, said they are conducting a thorough investigation into the incident. Initial findings are that the groomers caring for Scruffles followed “all policies and procedures” and that the company is now waiting on the dog’s necropsy.
An excerpt from their statement reads:
“We are truly saddened by the loss of Scruffles. We immediately conducted a comprehensive internal investigation and found the associates involved followed all policies and procedures consistent with care and services provided to breeds such as bulldogs.
The outstanding piece of the investigation is the result of the necropsy report, which will likely assist in understanding the overall circumstances leading to Scruffles’ unfortunate passing. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Scruffles’ family, and we continue to be in contact with them during this difficult time.”
In addition to PetSmart’s internal investigation, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is actively investigating Scruffles’ death and is looking into whether or not to file charges, NJ Advanced Media reported.
DiNapoli says the autopsy report will take several weeks, and she is still waiting to hear from PetSmart about what happened to Scruffles at their store.
In the meantime, DiNapoli started a Justice for Scruffles Facebook page, and other dog owners have begun to share their experiences with the same store. One woman, Tara Fiet, claims that her dog died on Christmas eve, two days after his visit to the Flemington PetSmart for a grooming session.
“Ranger came home and was very lethargic but I (stupidly) made the assumption that he was tired from the holiday excitement and his grooming. Ranger died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday night. He had no previous health issues and had just been to the vet 2 months earlier,” Fiet wrote on the page.
NJ Advance Media did an investigation and found that over an eight-day period from Dec. 22-29, at least two dogs died after being dropped off for grooming at the Flemington PetSmart, and a third (a dog named George) suffered a back injury.
In response, PetSmart said that they investigated the two other incidents and “believe these incidents to be unrelated”.
DiNapoli intends to keep pursuing answers. “They don’t have their facts straight,” DiNapoli said about what happened to Scruffles. “The story keeps changing. We have no closure because PetSmart isn’t allowing us to have closure.”