A dog owner was heartbroken after her puppy had to be put down after a visit to a pet grooming salon.
The mother of one Lisa O’Neill, 37, is still mourning the loss of eight-month-old Cockapoo Harry, who suffered a collapsed bowel shortly after being placed in a ‘drying cage’ at a dog groomer.
Harry was purchased in October 2020 for £2,350 and taken to an award winning grooming salon in February 2021.
However, when he left in May, Harry was washed and then put in a “drying cage” with the groomers on May 6th, which Lisa declined to name.
He collapsed and Lisa had to pick him up and take him to her local vet in Ayrshire.
Lisa O’Neill / SWNS)
He was taken to Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow the next day and euthanized on May 8.
Police officer Lisa, from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, is campaigning for dog groomers to be regulated, which animal welfare bosses say needs to happen.
The SSPCA has said Harry’s death was not clinically attributable to the carers but backed calls for regulations.
Lisa said: “I did a bit of research and the groomer I took him to had 30 years of experience, had won awards, so I had absolutely no qualms taking him there.
“As a newbie and with no knowledge of cage dryers, I didn’t know how to ask this question.
“When I got it back it looked good, it smelled lovely, it was dying to have a drink but I thought it was natural after it dried.
“So we went away and I was very happy to trust them.
“In May it was the same scenario – a girl came and took him outside.
“About an hour later I got a call saying Harry had collapsed while toweling off.
Lisa O’Neill / SWNS)
“At that point I had no idea about a dry cage.
“It wasn’t until she told the vet what had happened that they came back to me and said, ‘He had heat stroke and those dry boxes were death traps.’
“It turned out he was placed in a heated drying box and the timer was set for 30 minutes.
“As an excited pup he didn’t like being cooped up anywhere so in a dry box he would have been jumping around all the time.
“He was taken to Vets Now in Glasgow to try and treat him but unfortunately the complication caused by heat stroke meant his blood did not clot.
“That was two days after it happened and we wanted to have an operation on him to save him, but it couldn’t be done because his blood isn’t clotting due to his severe heat stroke.
“I had to go and sit with him while they put him to sleep.
Lisa O’Neill / SWNS)
“He had suffered terribly before he was put to sleep.
“He had an intussusception due to the stress and trauma of being locked in the box.
“The specialist said everything he was suffering from, the heat stroke and the stress, caused an invagination – where the bowels go in on himself.
“But his blood wouldn’t clot so they couldn’t cut him open – he would have just bled to death on the table.
“I can discuss it now without breaking down, but it took a while for that to happen.
“A dog is a family member.
“He definitely suffered tremendously, he was locked in a box.
“Harry if you put him in a box he would have been jumping around, he didn’t want to be locked in so he would have gone mad being locked in a heated box for that long.”
She has now started a petition to get the Scottish Government to take action to regulate dog groomers which has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures.
Lisa said: “It’s amazing how many dog owners don’t know anything about dry crates, they give up their dog and have no idea whether or not they will be locked in a crate.
“Scottish ministers have the power to regulate the industry, they just haven’t done so yet.
“I contacted the SSPCA at the time and the inspector who went out to examine the groomer had not even heard dry boxing.
“Since there are no laws for groomers, they don’t have to tell you.
“The box worked, apparently it’s one of the best in the business, it cost £2,000, it wasn’t defective so there was nothing the SSPCA could do.”
Scotland’s SPCA Chief Inspector Laura McIntyre said: “In May 2021 we investigated the heartbreaking death of a dog when he became ill at a groomer’s shortly after being in a drying cage.
“The dog was taken to a private vet where unfortunately his condition deteriorated and he was eventually euthanized.
“We have arranged for an autopsy by an outside organization to fully investigate the circumstances.
“This autopsy showed that the dog had not died of heat stroke. A follow-up visit was also carried out by a Scottish SPCA vet.
“Given the clinical view of veterinary experts that the cause of death was not heat stroke or some other problem attributable to treatment in the groomers, the investigation was closed.
“The expert opinion of veterinarians is vital to any investigation conducted by the Scottish SPCA.
“Dogs should be under constant supervision at the groomer. It can be a stressful situation for some dogs and every effort should be made to ensure they are safe and comfortable at all times.
“The rapid increase in dog ownership in Scotland has led to a boom in businesses such as groomers.
“While many are dependable, well trained and concerned about the welfare of the dogs they care for, the Scottish SPCA supports greater regulation of the industry.
“Owners should do their research, check reviews and try to use a reputable groomer at all times.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring high animal welfare standards for pets in Scotland.
“It is a criminal offense for zoo keepers to cause them unnecessary suffering and we recently increased the maximum penalties available to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
“We have introduced a new framework for licensing some activities involving animals and will be discussing whether to extend this to additional activities, including potentially dog grooming businesses.
“We plan to front-load consultations in this area after a period of familiarization with recent license changes, so that local authorities’ practical experience in implementing these changes can be incorporated into future proposals.
“We would encourage anyone with information that an animal has been mistreated to report it to Police Scotland, your local authority or the Scottish SPCA.”