- A new investigation by NJ Advance Media explores the mysterious deaths of 47 pets who visited PetSmart locations for a grooming appointment and died shortly after.
- The pets’ cause of death has not been definitively proven, but according to former employees cited in the report, workers are sometimes pushed to meet sales quotas, and safety restrictions are ignored.
- At least three owners have reportedly filed suit against PetSmart, accusing the retailer of being responsible for their pet’s death. Other owners were offered out-of-court settlements in exchange for signing non-disclosure agreements.
A new investigation by NJ Advance Media explores the mysterious deaths of 47 pets who visited PetSmart locations for a short grooming appointment and died shortly after.
At least three owners have reportedly filed suit against PetSmart, accusing the retailer of being responsible for their pet’s death.
The cause of the pets’ deaths has not been definitively proven. However, 20 of the 47 pets that reportedly died were either bulldogs or similar breeds that have trouble breathing in stressful or hot environments.
Workers are sometimes pushed to meet sales quotas, and safety restrictions are ignored, according to former employees cited in the report.
A spokesperson for PetSmart denied allegations of wrongdoing in a statement to Business Insider.
“The death of a pet is always heartbreaking. As a company of pet lovers who are dedicated to the health and happiness of all pets, we empathise with these grieving families. Nevertheless, we are not aware of any evidence suggesting that PetSmart services caused the deaths of these pets,” the spokesperson said.
PetSmart said that it does not have grooming records for 14 of the 47 pets mentioned in the story. In one case, it alleges that the owner repeatedly hid veterinary records and necropsy reports in order to secure an appointment.
“We expect the truth will be revealed through the ongoing litigation process,” the spokesperson said.
The vast majority of the pet deaths also coincided with the business being taken over by a private-equity firm in 2015, when the working environment became increasingly high-pressure, former employees said.
“When the new owners bought it, they demanded six to eight dogs in eight hours,” Marti Fernandez, who was a salon manager in two New Jersey PetSmart stores from 2006 to 2016, told NJ Advance Media.
“There’s always pressure to do more dogs. It was enough to make me quit,” she said.
Several owners have taken to social media to share their stories, and many of these posts have now gone viral.
According to the report, PetSmart has attempted to hush other owners by settling out-of-court payments for a few hundred dollars and asking them to sign non-disclosure agreements or remove posts on social media in return.
During the investigation, NJ Advance Media requested tours of the grooming areas at four PetSmart locations, but it was denied access. Amid the investigation and pending lawsuits, PetSmart has announced new procedures to improve the grooming experience by making more detailed assessments of the pet’s health before grooming, committing to install cameras into grooming areas by August 2019, and allowing customers to tour these areas starting on September 23.
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