If you have a furry loved one at home, you may want to listen up.
Pet groomer Healthy Spot is facing a class-action lawsuit after a dog died while being groomed. In an interview for "LA Times Today," staff writer Maria La Ganga joined host Lisa McRee to talk about the lawsuit and ways people can ensure their pets will be safe.
Healthy Spot has 20 stores in the state, most in LA County. The lawsuit alleges that the 13-year-old chain encourages employees "to put profits over the safety of the dogs they groom." One of the plaintiffs is a woman named Tamara Margolis, who had a dog named Charlie.
"Charlie was a 4-year-old Maltipoo, a beloved member of Tamara's family," La Ganga said. "Charlie arrived at Healthy Spot for a regular bath and trim and did not leave the facility alive. Healthy Spot and many grooming places use platforms, so groomers do not have to bend over. They then put a lead around his neck and clipped it to a metal arm that curves over the platform. Many dogs do not like going to the groomers. It is an unusual place for them. So, Charlie's groomer continued to ratchet the arm connected to the lead higher and higher, and Charlie ended up being strangled. Charlies was unconscious, and the vet tried to do CPR and bring him back, but he died."
Another plaintiff La Ganga mentions in her story is a woman named Aimee Tully.
"Aimee's beautiful Pomeranian Noel is a beautiful little dog with a big puffy tail," said La Ganga. "She took the dog to Healthy Spot for a bath and trim, and it ended up that the dog's tail was crushed and had to have five inches of it amputated."
La Ganga added that the grooming industry is unregulated in California and most other states, and there are no statistics about grooming safety.
"Animal groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say that the lack of regulations is the main problem. Therefore, it is hard to figure out how big this problem is and what needs to be done. I spoke with the president of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association, and she said these leads, which turn into a noose on dogs that are fortunate enough to strain against them, is like putting on a seatbelt."
Healthy Spot took full responsibility for Charlie's death and Noel's amputation, but they still stand behind their business and employees.
"They say they offer a good and important service and believe the lawsuit will be dismissed," La Ganga said.
If families do not want to take their pets to a groomer, La Ganga said other options are available.
"If you really want to be careful, you can learn to groom your dog yourself. The American Kennel Club and PETA have things on their website to teach you how to do that. You can hire a mobile service, so your dog is groomed at your home. You can check with the Better Business Bureau. You can ask for referrals, and you can demand that the facility tells you whether any animals have been harmed or killed. And you can pay very close attention and go to places that you know have good reputations."
Watch "LA Times Today" at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News app.