Pet grooming is an unregulated business and requires no license, and a PETA spokesperson tells the San Francisco Chronicle that the organization gets complaints "all the time" from people who say their pets were injured or even killed during grooming at PetSmart. Now a California couple whose dachshund Henry died at a San Mateo PetSmart in May are filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the retailer and a groomer not for money, they say, but for "systematic" changes. "We want these people to be trained," says Stefan Zier, who with his partner Terrie Peacock has been mourning Henry's death ever since. "I was helpless—he was dying right in front of us," Peacock says. "It's been a living nightmare."
According to police, groomer Juan Zarate emerged three minutes after taking the 1-year-old dog into the grooming room for a routine nail trimming to say that Henry was having a medical emergency. The dog had two broken ribs and a punctured lung, was bleeding out of his mouth, and died in minutes. Zarate, who was charged with felony animal cruelty after police ruled that his "deliberate actions ... likely contributed to the animal's death," pleaded not guilty, posted bail, and is still awaiting trial, according to the couple's attorney. They allege that since 2010, reports of animal abuse at the national chain range from severe cuts and overheating to strangulation, which is how an autopsy ruled Henry died, reports CBS Local. (One man sued PetSmart for $1 million over a bit of dog poop.)