Golden Retriever Dies After Being Left in Petco Drying Cage

AUG. 7, 2015 UPDATE: Two former employees of this Petco store have been charged with a class 4 misdemeanor for animal neglect.

colby dog left in petco drying cage

Andrea Marks of Powhatan, Va., left Colby, her Golden Retriever, at a Petco store in Westchester Commons for a routine grooming Friday morning.

About six hours later, the healthy young dog was dead of heatstroke.

The store’s assistant manager told Marks a groomer had put Colby in a drying cage — and then left the store to attend a graduation party.

“How does a company let this happen?” wrote Wendy Sitko, Andrea’s daughter, on Facebook. “Then I find out by looking Petco up this has happened before and a lawsuit [says] they no longer use heated cages.”

The lawsuit she’s referring to was filed by Teresa Gilland in 2008 over the death of Sadie, her 6-year-old, healthy Lhasa Apso. Just like Colby, Sadie was left to die in a heating cage at a Petco store in Fair Oaks, Calif. Sadie suffered heatstroke and had to be euthanized. In a July 2011 statement about the case, Petco said the company “no longer uses heat of any kind in the drying process in our grooming salons.”

Melody Newman, another of Marks’ daughters, told CBS 6 News that when her sister called and told her what happened, “I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ Colby was a very playful puppy. He just turned 2 in February.”

Newman said the family was in “complete shock” over Colby’s death and how he died. In a statement, Petco said the company is also “heartbroken.”

“The health and safety of pets is always our top priority and we take full responsibility for all animals under our care,” Petco stated, according to CBS 6 News. “We are taking immediate action to investigate and understand the situation. Our thoughts are with Colby’s family at this difficult time.”

Just two months ago, a Petco groomer in Atlanta was fired after a video of him yanking a terrified dog’s leg went viral.

Dog Groomers Aren’t Required to Be Licensed or Certified

Surprisingly, dog groomers are not required to be licensed or certified in any U.S. state. (New York City and Miami-Dade County, Fla., do regulate them; however, this is not done statewide.) New Jersey may become the first state to do so with “Bijou’s Bill,” named in memory of a Shih Tzu who, like Colby, died during a routine grooming session at a chain store — PetSmart, in this case.

“Lucy’s Law,” a similar bill in California that was named after a Yorkshire Terrier mix who was severely injured by a groomer, failed to pass in 2012. Petco and PetSmart strongly opposed the bill and lobbied against it.

Until statewide laws are passed, when you take your dog to a groomer (especially at a large chain store, where most deaths and injuries occur), it could be a life-or-death matter to ask some important questions.

“It would behoove you to find out who your groomer is, how long they’ve been grooming, what kind of track record they have — you need to do this kind of work,” Rosemary Marchetto, Bijou’s dog mom, told CBS New York in December.

On her Facebook page late Friday afternoon, Marks wrote, “Goodbye my sweet baby, taken from me way too soon, thanks to Petco.

“I will love you forever and always, my sweet, sweet Colby Jack. RIP.”

Photo via Twitter

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!