Petco: ‘No heat used’ in drying of dog killed after grooming

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — An outcry is being heard nationwide after a golden retriever died after a grooming at a Chesterfield, Va. Petco.

Allison Marks tells 8News reporter Amy Lacey that she dropped her dog Colby off at the Westchester Commons store and then, five hours later, the manager asked to meet her at an animal clinic. Marks says that’s where a veterinarian broke the news that Colby had died from a heat stroke.

Marks believes the groomer may have left Colby in a drying cage for too long. Petco released a statement late Monday afternoon that reads in full:

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.

Since the story broke, 8News has heard from several of you who’d never even heard of a drying cage… but we found that they’re standard in some grooming salons.

Colby Jack, the 2-year-old golden retriever
Colby Jack, the 2-year-old golden retriever

Linda Law is a master groomer with the National Dog Groomers Association of America. Law has worked in the industry for more than three decades and says something has to be done about the cages.

“We quit cage drying back in the late 80’s because there were so many groomers that weren’t turning the dryers to the proper temperature. They would get busy and forget about the dog.”

Law operates a grooming school and four salons and says you won’t find a dryer cage in any of them.

These types of deaths have happened before.

In 2008, a Llasa Apso named Sadie died of a heat stroke at a California Petco after her grooming session ended in a dryer cage.

Even so, states, including Virginia, have no laws against them.

Linda Law says the Commonwealth also doesn’t inspect salons and there’s no license required for grooming.

“You can hang up your sign and say you’re a dog groomer and never picked up a pair of clippers in your life and that’s how the accidents happen.”

“Stay up on what’s going on,” Law said. “Protect your dogs. As a client, you just need to be smart.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) says  there are what’s called comprehensive animal laws in Virginia. They call for the provision of adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care if needed. VDACS went on to say that if there is a violation, it “becomes the responsibility of the locality to investigate.”

Chesterfield Animal Control says it is looking into what happened in the case in Midlothian — a situation that Law says she hopes never happens again.

“There’s no government ruling, no state or federal that’s going to make it so we have to follow certain guidelines. It’s up to the owners of these companies to make sure that the dogs are safe.”

How can you find out if your groomer uses one? Ask to see where the dogs are bathed and dried. What you see up front in the window isn’t always what’s happening behind the scenes.

Law says some places have procedures — such as only using cage dryers if you aren’t comfortable with that, find a place that abides by your wishes. Your pet is too precious.

Petco said the groomer who was in charge at the time of the incident has been suspended.

Chesterfield County Animal Control is investigating.


This story originally appeared on

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