A heartbroken dog owner called for regulation of the Scottish pet care industry after their puppy was euthanized after a visit to a salon where he was placed in a “drying cage”.
Nine-month-old Cockapoo Harry suffered a collapsed bowel shortly after being put in a dry cage for 30 minutes at an award-winning grooming salon in May 2021.
He was rushed to Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow but euthanized on May 8th due to complications.
His owner Lisa O’Neill, 37, of Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, who Harry bought for £ 2,350 in October, is now campaigning for dog barbers to be regulated.
The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) said an autopsy found the dog had not died from heat stroke or any other problem attributed to treatment in the groomers.
However, it has backed calls for more regulation of the industry.
Nine-month-old Cockapoo Harry suffered an intestinal collapse shortly after he was put in a dry cage in May 2021
Ms. O’Neill, who works as a police officer, said Harry was first brought into the salon in February 2021.
When he left in May, Harry was washed and then on May 6th.
He collapsed and Mrs. O’Neill had to pick him up and take him to her local vets in Ayrshire.
The next day he was taken to Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow and put to sleep on May 8th.
Mrs. O’Neill said: “I did a little research and the groomer I took him to had 30 years of experience and won awards so I had absolutely no qualms about bringing him there.
“Since I’m a newbie and have no idea about cage dryers, I didn’t know how to ask the question.
“When I got it back, it looked good, it smelled wonderful, it was dying to have a drink, but I thought it would be natural after it was dry.
“So we left and I was very happy to trust you.
“In May it was the same scenario – a girl came and took it off outside.
“About an hour later I got a call that Harry had collapsed while drying.
“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 these dry boxes were death traps.
“It found it had been placed in a heated dry box and the timer was set for 30 minutes.
“Since he was an excited puppy, he didn’t like being locked up anywhere, so he would have been jumping around in a dry box the whole time.
The dog was taken to Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow but euthanized on May 8th due to complications
The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) said an autopsy found the dog did not die of heat stroke, but it has supported calls for more regulation of the industry
“He was taken to Vets Now in Glasgow for treatment, but unfortunately the complication of heat stroke meant his blood did not clot.
“That was two days after it happened and we wanted to operate on him to save him, but it couldn’t go on because his blood wasn’t clotting.
“I had to sit with him while they put him to sleep. He had suffered terribly before he was put to sleep.
“He had intussusception from the stress and trauma of being locked in the box.
“The specialist said that everything he had suffered from had caused intussusception – the bowels spilling into themselves.
“But his blood wouldn’t clot so they couldn’t cut him open – he would just have bleeding 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 a lot, he was locked in a box.
“Harry, if you put him in a box he would jump around, he didn’t want to be locked up so he would have been locked in a heated box for so long he would have gone crazy.”
Mrs. O’Neill has now launched a petition to get the Scottish government to regulate dog groomer regulation that has received nearly 3,000 signatures.
Ms. O’Neill said her puppy was placed in a dry cage and the timer was set for 30 minutes. Pictured: Stock image of a dry cage
She said, “It’s amazing how many dog owners know nothing about dry boxes, hand in their dog and have no idea whether or not they will be locked in a box.
“Scottish ministers have the power to regulate the industry, they just haven’t done it yet.
“I contacted the SSPCA at the time and the inspector who went out to examine the groomer hadn’t even heard dryer boxes.
“Because there are no laws for dog barbers, they don’t need to tell you about it.
“The box was fine, apparently it’s one of the best in the business, it cost £ 2,000, it wasn’t broken so there was nothing the SSPCA could do.”
Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector Laura McIntyre said: “In May 2021, we were investigating the heartbreaking death of a dog who fell ill shortly after being in a dry cage with a groomer.
“The dog was taken to a private veterinarian, where unfortunately his condition worsened and he was eventually euthanized.
“We arranged for an autopsy to be carried out by an external organization to fully investigate the circumstances.
“This autopsy showed that the dog had not died of heat stroke. A follow-up examination was also carried out by a Scottish SPCA veterinarian.
“Given the clinical opinion of veterinary experts that the cause of death was not heat stroke or some other problem related to the treatment in the groomers, the investigation was discontinued.
“The expert opinion of veterinarians is critical to any Scottish SPCA investigation.
“Dogs should be supervised at all times during a dog groomer. For some dogs it can be a stressful situation and every step should be taken to ensure they are safe and comfortable at all times.
“The rapid rise in dog ownership in Scotland has sparked a boom in businesses such as dog groomers.
“While many are reliable, well trained and concerned about the welfare of the dogs they care for, the Scottish SPCA supports stronger 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 animal stewards to cause them unnecessary suffering, and we recently increased the maximum sentences to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.
“We have introduced a new framework for licensing some activities with animals and we will discuss whether this should be expanded to include additional activities, including possibly dog grooming companies.
“We plan to move forward to consultations in this area after familiarizing ourselves with the latest permit changes so that the practical experience of local authorities as they implement them can be used in future proposals.
“We encourage anyone who has information about animal abuse to bring it to the attention of the Scottish Police, their local authorities or the Scottish SPCA.”