Reader Matt watched a PetSmart PetsHotel employee strike several dogs while waiting to pick up his pet. Matt immediately spoke with the store manager, who called the next day called to condemn the employee’s actions as ‘horribly inappropriate,’ and to promise that the employee would no longer work with dogs. Ten days later, Matt received another call, this time from the District Manager.
..the District Manager called us back and stated that she watched the video in slow motion, and that while she could understand how we interpreted the employee’s gestures to have been inappropriate, that she has concluded that the man was just playing with the animals, did not in fact strike any dogs, and was not inappropriate.
On Sunday, October 21, my wife and I picked up our dog from the Petsmart Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia (at Potomac Yards) where he had been boarded for one night. As we waited for our dog to be retrieved, we watched a live video stream of the day care room on a monitor facing us. The room appeared to be overcrowded with more than a dozen large dogs in a relatively small space. One employee could be seen in the middle of the crowd of dogs. Suddenly, both my wife and I saw this employee raise his hand and strike a dog. We were shocked by what we saw. Outraged, we immediately pointed this out the desk employee and requested to see a manager. As we waited, we continued to watch the video feed and witnessed the worker strike two or three more dogs. The Pet Hotel manager came out and we explained what we saw. We asked that this matter would be investigated and that the individual we saw strike the dogs would be removed from caring for dogs. We weren’t looking for any deal from Petsmart or to threaten any legal action — we just wanted a firm answer that this employee would no longer be left in the care of any animals.
The following day we received calls from both the Pet Hotel manager as well as the store manger. The Pet Hotel manager told me personally that she watched the video and found the worker’s actions “unacceptable.” In a separate conversation, the store manager stated that he watched the video “about 12 times” and also found it horribly inappropriate. Next we received a call from the District Manager who was incredibly evasive in her statements and stated she would get back to us after a full investigation, but that the employee in question was still working with dogs while the investigation took place. Ten days after the incident, the District Manager called us back and stated that she watched the video in slow motion, and that while she could understand how we interpreted the employee’s gestures to have been inappropriate, that she has concluded that the man was just playing with the animals, did not in fact strike any dogs, and was not inappropriate. In response, we very reasonably asked if we could watch the video with her so she could show us what she saw. She said no.
Since this incident, we have canceled all his future stays. We are outraged by what we saw and even more troubled that despite two managers having told us that they agreed that the employee was inappropriate, the district manager not only concluded otherwise, but refused to show us her interpretation. Petsmart has handled this in the worst possible way, excusing the conduct of an employee who hit dogs he was entrusted to care.
We feel the right thing to do is to let the community know about this incident so that dog owners can consider this incident when finding care for their dogs. Needless to say, we feel strongly that Petsmart Hotel is not a dependable or safe place to trust for care of D.C.-area pets.
If you need to board your pet, use a local kennel instead a chain pet store.