PetSmart Sued Over Puppy’s Death at Hands of Groomer

SAN MATEO, Calif. (CN) – The owners of a dachshund puppy sued pet store giant PetSmart and one of its groomers Tuesday, on claims he killed their puppy during a routine nail-trimming appointment this past May.

According to the lawsuit filed by Stefan Zier and Terrie Peacock in San Mateo Superior Court, PetSmart groomer Juan Zarate began shouting for medical help three minutes after taking the year-old dachshund puppy named Henry to the grooming station at the company’s San Mateo store.

Zarate ran to Zier and Peacock with the limp dog, which was bleeding from the mouth and struggling to breathe, according to the complaint. The dog died moments later.

The store’s veterinarian concluded Henry had suffered a punctured lung and two broken ribs, according to the lawsuit.

Zarate, 38, was arrested that day on suspicion of animal cruelty. He was later charged and pleaded not guilty to felony animal cruelty and animal abuse this past June, according to media reports. Plaintiffs’ attorney Alison Cordova said in an email that Zarate will be tried in March 2017.

“My clients are devastated by the loss of their dog,” Cordova said in her email. “They feel deceived to have trusted PetSmart, and they hope with this lawsuit that changes will be made so that no other family experiences such loss.”

In their lawsuit, Zier and Peacock say PetSmart has known for years that some of its groomers injure and kill its customers’ pets, but hasn’t done anything about it.

“Instead, PetSmart continued to advertise itself as a company that cared about a consumer’s pet like it was ‘family,’ and that all groomers were extensively and adequately trained and certified to provide professional and safe care to pets,” Zier and Peacock say in their lawsuit.

PetSmart declined to comment.

Zier and Peacock are seeking unspecified damages – including punitive damages – on claims of negligence, negligence per se, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, trespass and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Cordova is with Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy in San Francisco.