Dog owner receives nightmare call from puppy groomer

A dog owner received a nightmare phone call while her cockapoo puppy was at the salon.

Lisa O’Neill, 37, is still mourning the death of eight-month-old cockapoo Harry, who had to be rushed to hospital after he collapsed.

Harry was bought in October 2020 for £2,350, and had previously been taken to the same grooming salon in February 2021.

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When he went back in May, Harry was washed and then put in a “drying cage” at the groomers, which Lisa declined to name, on May 6.

He collapsed, and Lisa took him to her local vets in Ayrshire.

The next day he was taken to Vets Now Hospital, in Glasgow, and he was put to sleep on May 8.

Police officer Lisa, from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, is campaigning for dog groomers to be regulated, which animal welfare chiefs agree needs to happen.

The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) have said Harry’s death was not clinically attributable to the groomers but backed calls for regulations.

Lisa ONeill, 37, is still mourning the death of eight-month-old cockapoo Harry
Lisa ONeill, 37, is still mourning the death of eight-month-old cockapoo Harry

Lisa said: “I did do 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 about taking him there.

“Being a novice and not knowing about cage dryers I didn’t know to ask the question.

“When I got him back he looked good, he smelled lovely, he was desperate for a drink but I thought that was quite natural after being dried.

“So away we went and I was quite happy to trust them.

“In May, it was the same scenario – a girl came and took him off me outside.

“About an hour later, I got a phone call saying Harry had collapsed while being dried.

“At this point, I still had no idea about a drying cage.

“It wasn’t until she told the vet what had happened they came back to me saying ‘he had heatstroke and that these drying boxes are death traps’.”

The mum-of-one claims Harry was taken to a vets as his blood wasn’t clotting due to heatstroke.

However a post-mortem determined Harry did not died from heatstroke. A follow-up check was also undertaken by a Scottish SPCA vet.

She continued: “I had to go and sit with him while they put him to sleep.

“He had suffered horrendously. He had intussusception due to the stress and trauma of being locked in the box.

“The specialist said everything he’d suffered from, the heatstroke and the stress, had caused an intussusception – where intestines go into themselves.

“But his blood wouldn’t clot so they couldn’t cut him open – he would have just bled out on the table.

“I can discuss it now without breaking down but it’s taken a while for that to happen.

“A dog is a member of the family.”

She has now launched a petition to get the Scottish Government to act on regulating dog groomers which has gained nearly 3,000 signatures.

SSPCA chief inspector Laura McIntyre said: “This post-mortem found the dog had not died from heatstroke. A follow-up check was also undertaken by a Scottish SPCA vet.

“Given the clinical view from veterinary experts was that the cause of death was not heatstroke or any other issue attributable to the treatment in the groomers, the investigation was closed.

“Dogs should be under constant supervision whilst at a groomers. It can be a stressful situation for some dogs and every step should be taken to ensure they are safe and comfortable at all times.

“Owners should do their research, check reviews and try to use a reputable groomer at all times.”

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