Sending your dog to the groomer shouldn’t be a death sentence. But this is reportedly what happened to two beloved dogs after visiting Healthy Spot, a pet store and grooming franchise with 20 locations in California.
Now, two women, Tamara Margolis and Aimee Tully, are plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Healthy Spot alleging the company uses a “conveyor belt approach to dog grooming” that results in “serious injuries and the death of innocent, vulnerable dogs.” “Ends up devastating their owners” (via Los Angeles Times).
Margolis claims that she dropped her four-year-old Maltipoo Charlie for foster care. The next call she got from Healthy Spot was to inform her that Charlie had been strangled from a noose tied to dogs during grooming sessions. Here’s what supposedly happened.
A journey to become a groomer ends in tragedy
Twenty-six minutes of Charlie’s time at Healthy Spot was video-monitored, and it was appalling.
According to the report, a Healthy Spot employee placed Charlie on a nursing platform and put a green leash around his neck. As he writhed against the noose and struggled, the groomer pulled it so tight that Charlie couldn’t lie down.
The groomer “then pulls Charlie’s tail straight up to lift the dog’s hindquarters off the table,” which causes Charlie to dirty himself and either “howl or gasp”.
Two healthy employees then took Charlie to a nearby vet who pronounced him dead. When Margolis got to the veterinary clinic, Charlie’s body was still warm.
“I sat there and hugged him for hours,” said Margolis. “I knew this was the last time I would be physically with the dog.”
“It’s terrible and heartbreaking to see it”
Another plaintiff named in the class action lawsuit, Aimee Tully, claims she brought her ten-year rescue Pomeranian, Noel, to Healthy Spot for a swim and received a call from the manager a few hours later asking to meet her at the vet for a “small cut” on Noel’s tail, which was “bleeding profusely”.
It wasn’t a small cut. Noel’s bones in her tail were crushed, forcing her to undergo emergency surgery to amputate “nearly five inches” from her broken tail. Video surveillance footage shows the groomer “aggressively” brushing Noel’s cock.
Tully claims that Noel, who was once playful, hasn’t been the same since. “She’s scared when I take her to the vet. I take care of them at home. It’s horrible and heartbreaking to watch, ”Tully said.
Healthy Spot replies: “We are being blackmailed”
In response to the allegations cited in the lawsuit, Healthy Spot issued the following statement:
“Our Healthy Spot family is heartbroken by Charlie’s death and the injury Noelle inflicted on us. These have been two very rare occurrences … Our industry leading training and grooming practices prioritize safety above all, which is reflected in our track record of serving hundreds of thousands of pets and loyal customers. “
However, in a video posted on their company website, Healthy Spot CEO Andrew Kim and co-founder Mark Boonnark accuse Tully’s daughter of launching a “smear campaign” against her to extort $ 300,000.
In the video, the two state that they are “proud of the business we have built”. They claim they will “cover all veterinary expenses related to the pet injury – now and in the future”.
According to Kim and Boonnark, Tully’s attorney contacted them and threatened to use Tully’s daughter, social media influencer Riley Tully, to “blow up” Healthy Spot on social media unless we agreed to give them a large cash payment to provide veterinary care for your dog separately and apart from the costs. They asked for $ 300,000. “
“A smear campaign on social media has targeted our company and our team in the past week,” they wrote on their website. In the video, they added, “It was clear they were trying to turn the pet owner’s daughter – who is a social media influencer with millions of followers – into a weapon,” they said, “We were blackmailed . “
Has the video been “selectively edited”?
Healthy Spot doesn’t just claim they’re being blackmailed; They also claim that their dog barbers’ video footage killing and injuring dogs was shamefully obtained.
In an email to the Los Angeles Times, Healthy Spot spokesman Nathan Miller stated that the company records all care sessions, but claims that the footage described in the lawsuit has been “stolen” and “selectively edited”.
He added, “We are deeply concerned about the methods and motivations of the attorney who filed.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney, Gary Praglin, who met with Kim and Boonnark at Healthy Spot’s headquarters, explained the lawsuit in the simplest terms: “Thousands of people have had their pets groomed at Healthy Spot. We don’t know how many of their dogs were injured. This lawsuit is supposed to get them to change their grooming policies so that they no longer harm dogs. “
What You Can Do to Protect Your Dog and Report Abuse
Here at DogTime we believe it is imperative to choose a dog groomer just like you would at your dog’s vet. Be careful and rely on recommendations. If your experience puts you off, don’t hesitate to look for another option.
To find the right dog groomer for you, please click here.
How do you proceed to report suspected animal abuse to a professional dog groomer? During a 2015 interview with Good Morning America, Lisa Lange, PETA’s senior vice president of communication, stated (via ABC News):
“Start by telling the facility owner. Report it to the police, because every state has a law on cruelty to animals … And then of course you can report it to the state veterinarian at any time. Basically tell everyone. Don’t let a dog groomer get away with it. “
Have you had negative experiences with a dog groomer? What steps did you take to make sure it never happened again? Let us know in the comments!