PetSmart Employee Beats Dogs, Keeps Job

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.

Matt writes:

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.

(Photo: dairycow2)


Edit Your Comment

  1. azntg says:

    I know I’m running against a popular opinion, but in my opinion, I think that in America, pets are treated better than how humans treat fellow humans. Frankly, I am deeply disturbed by that. We get into a fit when an employee strikes a dog but we don’t give as much of a sh*t if a person (of particular ethnicity and immigration status) gets beaten up and left for dead in a street? Now, that’s just wrong!

  2. Charles Duffy says:

    @azntg: This “we” you speak of is not one person. It’s typically not even the same people. A large group of people with wildly divergant views having massive inconsistencies among views held by different people within that group is nothing to be surprised at.

    Be outraged at the people who believe that beating a fellow human is acceptable, not those who believe that beating dogs is wrong, and don’t ascribe the views of the former set to the latter.

  3. 7j6cei says:

    Why do company’s think it is better to cover up and lie about what happened, rather than just being honest and correcting the mistake. Managers are so brain washed into thinking that covering up the real problem, VS just being honest about what happened is the better way.

    I bet if the district manager in this case would have just been honest about what happened and provided corrective action, this story might have not even been told to the consumerist.

    Stupid, just stupid! I would have been calling animal control and turning the tape over to them for charges…..

  4. alexisexplainsitall says:

    I think these two that left the first comments are idiots. The point of this story is not how people treat other people and comments about treating humans better should not be left here. If someone chooses to treat an animal better than a human it’s their choice and they should not be judged. I, myself would give to an animal shelter before donating to a human cause.
    I’m glad this story was posted so people will better educated themselves to not blindly trust the promise of a big chain.

  5. rkm12 says:

    @azntg: I get outraged at both, cruelty to humans and animals bugs me.

    Just because I care about animals doesn’t mean I don’t care about humans too. Do you really think it’s only possible to care about one and not the other?

  6. taney71 says:

    Beating/killing a human is acceptable in the right circumstances. Nearly all the major Democratic candidates have said torture is proper when faced with an immediate terrorist threat (e.g., bomb going off in one hour and the person knows where bomb is). Killing as a state action is also permissible. Even as an individual action killing someone in self-defense is ok.

    Not sure where the first poster has seen a white person just walk up to a black person or illegal immigrant and hit them because of their color or immigration status. Please give us some proof that this happens on a large scale where I should feel concern that I live in a country of racists and vigilantes.

    Not sure why we had to bring the illegal immigration debate into a story about dog beatings.

  7. ian937262 says:

    This is why, even if it’s not true, my little girl will stay with family instead of boarding when we take our next vacation!

    Almost as disturbing to think about as your grandparents in a home getting abused.

  8. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    @Charles Duffy:
    Very well put.

  9. girly says:

    Sounds like what happened is they watched the video without talking to the employee, but later maybe they talked to the employee and the employee explained what s/he was doing and asked them to check the video again.

    I think a good test would be whether any of the dogs cower or move away from being touched. (but I’m not an expert)

    It could be that the employee was playing with them in a way that looked like striking but either wasn’t actually touching them or wasn’t doing it aggressively.

    I agree that if someone treated dogs well but not people that would be hypocritical. But it doesn’t mean that dogs should not be treated in a civil manner.

    It would be in Petsmart’s best interest to help the customer understand why they don’t consider that employee as mistreating the dog (if that’s possible).

  10. dcaslin says:

    I wish we had some clarification here about what exactly happened. How hard did the employee hit the dogs? Did he strike them in the face? Were they injured? Were the dogs misbehaving in some way, or was this purely out of spite?

    If the “strikes” weren’t impressive enough to to even upset the dogs, I think it’s probably a little extreme to demand that this employee never work with dogs again. I mean, this is a guy in a room full of dogs, not a pre-school teacher.

  11. TeraGram says:

    My guess is not only will that employee continue behaving in an abusive manner, but that Petsmart will further aid and abet his behavior by removing the camera and vid monitor.

  12. dcaslin says:


    I’m not sure that being honest in this case would have worked great for PetSmart. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the district manager saw the video, was pretty sure the employee was striking the dogs, but wasn’t concerned that it was that big of a deal. Let’s say the employee needed more training on disciplining dogs but was otherwise a good and dedicated employee. If the DM is honest and says so, now Matt can report to the world that PetSmart beats dogs and does nothing about it. At least this way PetSmart has obscured the issue and no one can claim they support puppy-beating. (Not saying this is what they should have done, just saying that dealing with pet owners that sometimes hold extreme views makes normal customer service situations more challenging, this isn’t like Best Buy just being straight-up evil)

  13. unsunder says:

    ha. Someone swinging in slow motion would look like petting:

  14. aishel says:

    Take the Michael Vick saga as a prime example. He’s accused of dogfighting and the entire world goes crazy, demanding he goes to jail, never plays football again, etc. But when you have players like Ray Lewis who are accused of murdering two people one Super Bowl night, he doesn’t even miss a single game. America has to get its priorities straight.

  15. CurbRunner says:

    If I had this had viewed this incident, I would have first done what Matt correctly did and complain to the desk clerk, then I would have steped out of view to call the police and ask them to call an SPCA/animal control unit to the store immediately to review the video and make their determination on the spot.

    The district manager obviously took it upon herself to spin the incident away from any legal scrutiny and subsequent liability for the company.

  16. calldrdave says:

    There’s actually a simple solution to this. Call the police/animal control. They have it on tape! If I thought animals were being abused, I’d immediately call the police (and have!)

    I do wonder if raising a hand and “striking a dog” could be accurately determined. The person knew he was being watched and it seems unlikely that he’s hit several dogs.

    Nonetheless, it was clearly handled wrong by Pet”smart”. They should have explained that they were possibly herding the dogs or another interpretation. I volunteer at the Humane Society and we get complaints all the time about

    “mishandling” . Things aren’t always what they seem from a distance. However, we have 2 people investigate each complaint and give a full report about what happened to the person that complains. Most of the time it appears the animal was touched hard, but was touched lightly. Example: getting a dog back in a’ll use your foot to block it from backing out, but sure enough, someone will say it was kicked. Complaints are good because they keep everyone in check.

    Based on their response though, they are certainly off my list. Claims of animal cruelty should be handled with the highest level of analysis and explanation.

  17. legotech says:

    I just dropped them an email to tell them I won’t be shopping with them until they fix this. If they don’t care how the employees treat the border dogs with cameras in the room, what do they let the groomers do?

  18. JulieG says:

    Here in Phoenix (where PetSmart is headquartered) we avoid both the Pet Hotel and the grooming by PetSmart. My parents, brother and I have all noticed traumatized behaviors in our pets after taking them there. My dog still cringes when he is brushed. Something he did not do until he was taken to PetSmart. A manager at one of the stores here told me that a large percentage of the workers in these two departments are ex-convicts. Apparently, there is some sort of program to train prisoners in dog grooming in the Arizona prison system.

  19. demonradio says:

    These big chains just hire anyone off the streets. I went to the Petco in Norwalk, CT on the Post Road and heard this guy in grooming telling someone how he’ll take dogs without their shots (which can be potentially harmful for any person or animal that comes in contact with said animal) and how he is able to steal from the store without anyone knowing. Well, needless to say, I told the manager and I don’t think that dude works there anymore. People are stupid. A great locally owned pet store opened up down the street from me and I just go there now.

  20. 3drage says:

    They probably ran into legal issues with video taping their employee.

  21. Scuba Steve says:

    @azntg: I don’t know about you, but if I see a petsmart employee beating up a customer, I think twice about being a customer!

  22. witeowl says:

    Dogs naturally playfight with each other. I do a version with my dogs where I pet/tickle them on one side and they pretend to snap at my hand, I then raise my hand well over their heads and pet/tickle them on the other side. Rinse and repeat.

    I could very well see this appearing to be striking dogs through a detached video feed with no reference. Girly may be correct that, with an explanation from an employee, the management was later more able to determine that they were seeing play (or something) rather than beating.

    Of course, they should be more willing to replay the video for the customer review. I agree: call the SPCA/Animal Control. They do thorough investigations on complaints like these.

  23. misskaz says:

    I strongly disagree with the blanket statement at the end of this article “If you need to board your pet, use a local kennel instead a chain pet store.”

    I had been boarding my greyhound with a local kennel – supposedly a frou-frou boutique place that took exquisite care of your pet at the outrageous price of $40 a night. But my dog always came home from that place anxious and having lost weight. I thought it was just the anxiety of being away from home. But after the time I picked her up and discovered her joints were covered in open BED SORES because she was not given enough bedding, I swore I would never use them again.

    The local Petsmart PetsHotel, by contrast, has been a godsend. We can get a “suite” for my dog which is a room all to her self (no caging or crating) with comfy bedding and a tv… for less that the fancy boutique place. She comes home happy and calm, with no weight loss and no bed sores. I have been incredibly happy with the local Pestmart Pet Hotel and will continue to use them.

    Also, they are very strict about the dog having all her shots – they call the vet directly to confirm every single time.

    I think the real lesson is to keep an eye on the condition (mental and physical) of your pet after a stay in a kennel – it is not whether it is a chain store or local that makes it good.

  24. timmus says:

    I think all this underscores the importance of sharing, sharing, sharing information on businesses and products. I used to read the Bad Service Livejournal blog for this reason, but over the past year it’s become overrun by whiners who never identify the businesses that did them wrong. I think all we have is Epinions and Consumerist, and perhaps Tripadvisor for hotels.

  25. Christovir says:

    In my experience, PetSmart employees are not knowledgeable at all. One once tried to sell me an electric heat rock for (aquatic) firebelly newts. Besides being a potentially fatal electrical hazard, the temperature would kill the newts very quickly, as they need cold temperatures.

    Matt did the right thing. Now the next step is calling the humane society and/or police to investigate.

    For people who say animals are treated better than humans… try visiting a slaughterhouse.

  26. PracticalMagic says:

    I think the reason people get so upset about animals being treated badly, is because we humans equate pets with children. They are completely dependent on us to provide for them, nurture and protect them. Isn’t that the same with children?

    I can almost guarantee you that the tape has either been taped over, thrown away, or “disappeared”. If the SPCA or police were to be involved, it should’ve been right then and there. What an unfortunate incident.

  27. descend says:

    It’s hard to take sides without seeing the video. We certainly know hysterical dog owners who, for example, think it’s abusive not to feed one’s pet fresh raw meat every day.

  28. legotech says:

    Yep, there is a program in Maricopa County where female inmates work with animals in a no kill shelter…but I guarantee the animals are better cared for than the prisoners…Maricopa County (AZ) is where the sheriff makes the prisoners live in tents, the animals at the shelter have AC :) I doubt the majority of the problem is from those ladies, its from people thinking that ALL the prisoners have animal care training and hiring them anyway, or being part of some program where the salary of the ex con is partly covered by the state so they hire whoever walks through the door with a parole officer because not only do they only pay ’em minimum wage, the store only pays part of that.

  29. bohemian says:

    I would like to see the video before making an assumption. I worked in animal health for quite a while. Pet owners can be horribly disconnected from reality when it comes to animals and misinterpret benign activities. People running pet facilities can be very negligent. So it is hard to say either way. The person should have called the police and or local animal control. Animal control officers have legal authority and direct overlapping connections with whatever animal society works in the area. If something wrong did happen they would be a better objective third party to determine this.

    The comment about just go find a local pet shop or kennel is not good advice either. There is nothing that monitors either or the staff of either. There are some horrible pet store or kennel owners that don’t know what they are doing. Find somewhere by asking arounds. People that board frequently would be great sources since if something is going to go wrong they have more chances of running into it. We have had good luck boarding with the veterinary clinics we have used. Both were up front about how they handle boarding and were slow and small enough clinics that they could give proper attention to the dogs that boarded. Since our dog doesn’t deal with other dogs well and is rather old boarding her at the vet works out pretty well. If she gets sick the people caring for her are skilled enough to notice it. She also isn’t let out to play with other dogs for exercise. One of the clinics would let her hang out with the front office staff in the morning since she mostly hangs out wanting to be petted.

    I worked for a kennel briefly when I was in college. I quit because the owner was so horrible. She had two dogs someone abandoned there. She would not adopt them out directly or through the SPCA. The two black labs had been kenneled so long they had become aggressive and lost their socialization skills. She also had a German Shepherd that had been abandoned there and gotten it’s rear leg broken by being left in the dog run with the insane black labs. The kennel owners solution was to just leave it in a smaller run in the grooming kennels. The leg started to develop issues but she refused to take it for medical care.
    She was gone for a long weekend and the entire staff got together enough money and found a vet to fix the leg. We did a jail break for this poor dog and told the kennel owner it escaped out of the exercise area gate. One of the groomers took the dog home and kept it. Sadly, the leg had to be amputated because it didn’t get proper timely treatment.

    You don’t always know what is going on behind the scenes. Even a “nice” expensive facility can be a nightmare.

  30. dadelus says:

    I take my dog to my local PetSmart in Mission, KS for grooming and boarding all the time and she LOVES it there. She gets very excited and nearly tears my arm off trying to get into the store when we go. The same way she acts when she realizes I’m taking her to the park to play. She even seems to recognize some of the people on staff and is happy to see them.

    The staff also recognize her and know her by name. We normally pay extra to give her a full day of play so she isn’t cooped up in her kennel all day and every time we come to pick her up she seems to be happy. So I wouldn’t pin this on PetSmart as a whole but on an individual store/employee if that.

    I know I can get pretty rough wrestling with my dog when we play and sometimes worry that people might think I’m hurting her. So without seeing exactly what happened I wouldn’t even say that the employee was abusing the dog in this instance.

    Dogs are pretty resiliant and play pretty rough amongst themselves. Some play rougher than others. I wouldn’t worry about someone smacking a German Shepard on the side although use the same force on a yorkie and it might go sailing over the fence.

  31. BigNutty says:

    I would have confronted the employee myself and read him the riot act, explaining that his behavior is unacceptable and that I will be calling the authorities to make a police report.

    You have to take responsibility if the store won’t and do what you can to protect the dogs. I know it’s just a dog, but would you let a parent act that way to their kid if you saw it happening?

    My wife always gets mad at me for interfering with parents inside stores that treat their kids like dirt such as slapping them, pulling them by their arms in a forceful way, shaking them hard when the parent is mad and any other public displays of abuse.

    Yes, I get told of a lot to mind my own business, but that is the point, it now is my business once I see something like this.

  32. darious says:

    People claim to see UFOs all the time – that doesn’t mean they exist. Before jumping on the internet outrage bandwagon, I think I’ll have to see the video and judge for myself.

  33. TechnoDestructo says:

    @JulieG: Yeah, the Mohave County animal shelter has prisoners working there. The guys I’ve met there seemed to be nice to the animals, though. Mileage may vary, I guess.

  34. ndavies says:

    @dcaslin: I agree. If he wants to beat on poor innocent creatures, he should be working in a preschool. He’s got no business hurting animals that aren’t even of his species.

  35. hn333 says:

    I use to work at Petsmart, pet owners drive me nuts. People need better things to worry about.

  36. witeowl says:

    Seriously, folks? You’re taking sides here with so little information? Wow, we’ve sure come a long way since Salem, haven’t we?

  37. hn333 says:

    @Christovir: When I worked at Petsmart I didn’t know anything about pets and I never had any interest in learning. Wasn’t worth my time. I hated how customers would come in and think that the guy that stocked the shelves was an animal expert. If I was a expert I wouldn’t be working at Petsmart.

    Glad I quit.

  38. ThyGuy says:

    I have a beagle right now. I hate the beagle (Little bastard) and wish it would die. I like the playful dogs that know when you’re trying to play with them, by pawing at their noses and sides, or even tackling them. The beagle doesn’t like to play, and freaks out. I miss my old dogs…

    I won’t take sides until I see the video.

  39. DAK says:

    @ThyGuy: ” I hate the beagle (Little bastard) and wish it would die.”

    It’s a shame that your mother didn’t have better aim with the wire hanger.

  40. ShadowFalls says:

    I think it all kinds down to discipline. People do tend to see their pets similar to children. Would you like someone smacking your child or disciplining your child? No, they don’t have the right to do such.

    We can all safely agree that smacking a dog that is not yours for any reason short of defending yourself is completely unacceptable.

    The one who smacked the dogs should be be brought up on charges. Since the evidence exists, you can persist upon that. I doubt this type of thing has not happened before, and if he continues to work there, it will likely happen again.

  41. Mr. Gunn says:

    If there really was strong proof, charges would have been filed rather than rumors spread.

    Of course, if they had just met with the people, there might not have been rumors.

    Of course, the people may have been assholes who are impossible to reason with.

  42. S-the-K says:

    I wonder if Reader Matt, the OP, has ever watched “The Dog Whisperer”? I wonder if the OP has ever watched a pack of dogs, or puppies, playing?

    I think if one is hypersensitive, some of the tactics used by Cesar Milan could be interpreted as “striking” the dogs. His objective is to show the dog that he is the “pack leader”. If the human isn’t going to be the pack leader, the dog will and will cause the human troubles.

  43. chartrule says:

    which petsmart did this occur at ?

  44. seraphicstar says:

    Unfortunately, I have also seen this kind of behavior happen at Petsmart Pet Hotels. Where I worked, there wasn’t really any kind of training. We were told to read the “manuals” and then thrown into a room of dogs. The dogs were not temperament tested at all, causing many dogs to lash out at one another.
    As with most retail management, they left something to be desired. There were times where dogs would bite one another so viciously that customers in the regular part of the store (the playrooms were visible from the sales floor via huge plate glass dividers) would become upset and complain to management.
    The employee striking the dog does not surprise me. We had several employees who would abuse dogs in front of co workers and customers. When this was brought to the attention of management, they pretty much laughed.

  45. joemono says:

    One of our cats likes to have her backside smacked. Not hard, mind you, but someone watching on a grainy surveillance camera might think I was abusing her.

    Also, the last line of the post about using local places vs. chains – is that based on anything else besides the information presented in this article?

  46. alk509 says:


    We get into a fit when an employee strikes a dog but we don’t give as much of a sh*t if a person (of particular ethnicity and immigration status) gets beaten up and left for dead in a street?”

    What’s this “we” shit? Speak for yourself! I don’t know a single person who doesn’t find both dog-beatings and people-beatings reprehensible.

  47. Hambriq says:

    What I don’t understand is that people are immediately jumping to judgment without having seen the video for themselves. I mean, the people who wrote the letter obviously can make that kind of judgment call. But the rest of the commenters? I mean, for all we know, the guy could have been playing with the dogs and the people who wrote the letter could just be over-reactive and looking for a cause.

    Or, on the other hand, it could have been just as bad if not worse than what’s suggested in the letter. The point is, why are we speculating about the turpitude of Petsmart and its employees when none of us have seen the ONLY piece of evidence that should matter in this situation: the video in question?

  48. faust1200 says:

    Millions of monkeys are spanked every day across the world and you never hear about it!

  49. defylogik says:

    this place is local to us. we almost took our pet here a few times, but didnt. it really depends on the situation, but i think hitting our dog is appropriate at times. If he is out of control and goes to take a big chomp out of my arm, he is going to get a good slap on his nose. he has been trained to know better, and sometimes oversteps his boundaries. better to correct it now than have him maul a taunting kid in 2 years.

    As far as paid dog-care, i think that is inappropriate to hit someone elses dog unless you have specific instructions that is is OK for discipline.

  50. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @chartrule: Think they said the PetSmart in Alexandria, VA at Potomac Yards.

  51. MariSama44 says:

    I used to work at petsmart, and I worked all the jobs, that is…groomer, specialty, stocking and cashier. We were expected to know our shit once we were hired at my store. I’m sure there’s plenty of screw ups like HN333 around, that only work a job for money or advancement…Which, I think is wrong, if you’re going to work around animals or something as important…I wouldnt take a job with the Salvation Army if I didnt give two shits about unfortunate people, would I? I was made to read books and manuals on nearly everything, and by the time I left that store, I had a great foundation of basic pet knowledge, and I would frequently share it with any customers that wanted to know about it. So dont judge petsmart and dont judge the people who work there based on one incident. I know there are bad people and bad stores, but when I worked there the biggest concern was getting what was best for the animals that lived in the store or came to visit.

    Now, as for the video. I dont doubt there was some kind of abuse, but I also dont doubt that the people who accused were just eccentric and obsessive about their dog…Theres no real evidence to back any side up, just like everyone else was saying. Playing with dogs can look harmful alot of times, then again, there are the few abusive people floating around. So untill the video is released, who knows.

  52. moonbeamlai says:

    I’m curious as to the last time that anyone of us was in a room with a dozen dogs??? would you be inclined to think running such an “ORGANIZED” activity would be easy? I know I wouldn’t.

    I think what everyone needs to remember is that there has to be a leader in a pack situation! Was there audio on this “live feed”? could they hear what was actually going on or did they just assume they knew the situation exactly as it was?

    Are they even quoting the management correctly or have they taken their own spin on the situation?

    I think what needs to happen is we all need to investigate where we take our pets. See the facility and know the people. Outrageous demands and false accusations only hurt the people invloved.

    I know if anyone saw me playing with three dogs, they’d be on the phone to the authorities. My three 50 pounders look like they could kill anything or anyone when playing together. IMAGINE WHAT OVER A DOZEN LOOKS LIKE…

  53. BugMeNot2 says:

    Didn’t Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist diagnose Terry Schiavo’s vegetative state by reviewing a video tape? I’ll bet that works with web cams in pet stores as well.

  54. daniinpa says:

    I would recommend that people no longer leave their animals with Petsmart, either for boarding or grooming. I left my small dog there for grooming, and when I picked him up, he had a large Petsmart bandana around his neck. I’ve seen those before, I guess they’re like when doctors give lollipops to kids. So I thought nothing of it, but after about 36 hours I was concerned by my dog’s listlessness. I removed the bandana, and found a LARGE cut across his throat. It was ugly and I took pictures of it. It was probably done while trimming, but I was outraged by the attempt to cover it up.

    I called Petsmart and they offered to have their veterinarian fix up my dog for free, but I wanted them to do something about the employee who’d done this. They promised that they would, I spoke to the manager in person, but that guy was still working there a month later. This is the Petsmart on roosevelt boulevard in Philadelphia.

  55. sciencefreak says:

    It drives me crazy that everyone automatically sides with the person reporting this? Ever think MAYBE they guy was just playing with the dogs, and that the person just misinterpreted it? I would like to see the video myself before drawing any conclusions.

    Talk about treating animals better then dogs, the headline to this artical sounds like a damn tabliod.

    I agree with you AZNTG 110% people care so much more about there damn pets then there fellow humans its disgusting. People would rather buy cloths for there dog who doesn’t even care, or cut its hair…or whatever, people…don’t you realize these are ANIMALS they don’t care how they look!!!

    There are much greater things in this world to concern ourselves about then some guy pointing fingers at petsmart.

  56. The really crucial thing is never to leave your animals at a facility the manager/owner won’t let you tour. Every kennel we’ve ever left my cats at, they let us tour the facility at any hour the place is open. And every vet we’ve used has allowed owner visits during hospitalizations.

    If they won’t let you see the full facility and hang around and watch it working, I’d be suspicious.

    (And every place we’ve ever used has allowed employees to speak for the kennel and give us access and so forth. If you’re at a place where employees have to say, “I have to get the manager before I can let you back there,” I’d be a little suspicious about that, too. Although, “That should be fine, let me check with the vet,” is a little different.)

  57. MeOhMy says:

    #1 – I treat my dog better than I would treat a lot of humans. Why? Because my dog IS a better “person” than a lot of humans! Sad but true.

    #2 – Sounds to me like you can’t see jack in the tape as far as what actually happened. We can’t even see the tape for ourselves!

    #3 – I simply do not trust the people at the big-box pet stores. They’re just regular people with retail mcjobs. Some might be animal experts or at least animal lovers, some might hate animals and are just trying to pay their bills and feed their kids. It’s a risk I don’t want to take.

    For boarding I have a most awesome dog walker who will actually put my dog up at her house! Dog gets walks, entertainment from 2 dogs/2 cats/2-year-old son and freedom to wander the house just like she would at home.

    For grooming I have a couple indie, full-time groomers nearby.

    In both cases, you have to do your homework and research. Don’t just look in the phone book. Ask your vet, ask your friends/family/neighbors/coworkers that have pets. Our groomers were recommended by people that we trust as doing good work and taking good care of the animals.

    Actually you should probably do the same when looking for a vet.

  58. mbrutsch says:

    @misskaz: That’s why I always board my pets with their vet. I’ve known and trusted her with several generations of pets, and the fact that it costs a little more than boarding them at ConGlommoKennel is worth it.

  59. MeOhMy says:


    People would rather buy cloths for there dog who doesn’t even care, or cut its hair…or whatever, people…don’t you realize these are ANIMALS they don’t care how they look!!!

    Granted there are some people who are way over the top (like the guy at the groomer picking colored nail polish for his dog’s claws), but basic grooming is a health concern along with clothing for smaller dogs.

  60. sciencefreak says:

    clothing is important for smaller dogs because we important them to climates in which they are not meant to be in. Groomings health benefits are subjective, and I am not against them, yet they are still not “natural”.
    I didn’t meen this to be the main point of my argument, what I was trying to get at is that everyone automaticly sides with the personal telling the story rather then the giving this groomer a chance to defend himself…

  61. Tigerman_McCool says:

    Not enough info at all. It’s quite fishy that the person writing this article and two store managers saw these actions one way, where the higher up found them acceptable. It’s also very fishy nobody can see the tape.

  62. misskaz says:

    According to the Petshotel website:

    Caregivers are PetSmart safety-certified and trained in all aspects of personalized pet care.

    So to me, if that’s not the case as some here are saying, there is some false advertising going on. Should be pretty easy to prove if the staff are or are not certified. However, I would ask people to consider that Petsmart probably doesn’t just take a retail cashier and have him/her work the day care for a shift – my guess is there is a separate staff for the hotel.

    And before I boarded my dog there, they gave me a full tour of all the facilities, from the kennels to the play area to the room where they prepare the food. I remain confident that my dog is well cared-for, although I certainly allow for differences in the quality of care at different locations of the chain. I’m just glad the one near me is a good one.

    • Anonymous says:

      they Are safety trained certified. there is a whole training course that you have to complete, with many many manuals and tests. they don’t let just anyone into those specialized departments until you’ve proven you know what you are doing. and even after completion, you start out on the low rank (for groomers, you start out as a bather only.)

  63. MeOhMy says:


    Groomings health benefits are subjective, and I am not against them, yet they are still not “natural”.

    Not subjective at all – my dog has long, thick hair. If her fur is too long in the summer she overheats and is more susceptible to hot spots. If it’s too long it gets in her eyes and irritates them. It holds water and she gets cold if she gets wet. The longer it gets, the more susceptible it gets to getting matted and developing other problems like mange. I’d have to brush her all the time. Also not natural :-)

    The trouble with the “not natural” concept is that we’re talking about domesticated dogs, many of which have hundreds (if not thousands) of years of decidedly unnatural selective breeding inside them. We’re way past letting nature take its course. My dog wouldn’t last a week wandering free in suburban America, let alone in the Tibetan highlands where her breed originated :-)

    I was trying to get at is that everyone automaticly sides with the personal telling the story rather then the giving this groomer a chance to defend himself…

    Just wanted to quote you because I agree with your main point and didn’t want it to get lost.

  64. girly says:

    @Troy F.:
    yup, I agree, when you take dogs that were bred with less ungroomed-friendly traits, and combine that with a different lifestyle, they are going to need some grooming.

  65. Pop Socket says:

    @misskaz: I have had very good experiences with our local Petsmart/Petshotel. The staff is courteous and kind to the pets. We use the same groomer every time and my dog now looks forward to haircuts. Being independent is not a guarantee of quality employees or good management.

  66. Trackback says:

    Links Glue You To The Seat of Your Pants by Alex Carnevale My guess would be that there is going to be a fair amount of talk about Andrew Sullivan’s pro-Obama piece in The Atlantic Monthly. What does he offer? First and foremost: his face.

  67. kellyd says:

    @misskaz: yeah, Mcdonalds is a “godsend” for people who don’t care about nutrition too. While you need a little due diligence in order to be sure you’re leaving your pet in good hands (my vet has a boarding service and I know they’re good to animals), you can be damned sure the safety of your pet is significantly less important to these behemoth chains than their beloved bottom lines.

    Chains don’t care about you or your pets. They sell crap food that kills pets and are pretty much retailers rather than pet professionals. You get what you pay for: convenience in the short term.

  68. applesjuice says:

    The first rule of any business is that you don’t admit liability. I seriously doubt that the hotel and store managers would admit wrongdoing until there had been an investigation. There was an investigation and there was no abuse found. Matt doesn’t like the answer so he is misquoting the managers to bolster his argument. Matt “knows” what he saw and won’t be told otherwise.

    Petsmart has way to much to lose by protecting an employee that beats pets. If a company would fire an employee for tardiness, do you think they would have any hesitation in firing someone for this. Yes, that would admit “guilt”, but bad hiring decisions happen all the time. Cops beat Rodney King…do you not “use” the LAPD anymore? Drawing conclusions about an entire company based on the alleged actions of one person is faulty logic.

    I volunteer at a local shelter and I know that Animal Control regularly visits places like petco and petsmart just to make sure that everything is okay. If there was a culture of accepting animal abuse at a store, I am sure that it would be obvious to the ACO.

    I also know from my work at the shelter that there are crazy animal people. I have had animal control called in because a cat had a hot spot and we were accused to torturing the animal. We feed dogs dry food not wet and we are accused of starving them to death.

    There are comments in here that petsmart is afraid to “admit” they were wrong. Maybe Matt is wrong and he can’t admit it.

  69. moonbeamlai says:

    Thank you ApplesJuice for being a logical person. I agree, why would Petsmart protect someone for “beating” dogs? What message could that possibly send other than, they don’t care. That’s asanine.

    I just don’t think you could pay a person enough to pick up urine and feces all day if they didn’t love animals.

    “Matt” needs to realize that he might be wrong in this situation.

  70. girly says:

    @applesjuice: You’re just jumping to a conclusion in the opposite direction of most people who are jumping to conclusions here.

  71. MustardPlug says:

    I appreciate Reader Matt’s concern for the wellfare of his dog. There are alot of bad seeds out there in the world. His method of complaint was correct, but he should acknowledge that his perception is that of protective parent. To put my opinion plainly, I think it’s unlikely that Reader Matt’s perception is the whole truth. I have worked in boarding kennels before, and I agree with moonbeamlai and applejiuce on a number of points.

    1. Know the folks taking care of your pets. Ask to see the facilities directly. Ask them very specific questions about their routine. Use your judgement, but remember they are dealing with dozens of dogs not only yours, so their routine may be different than the one you might have at home.

    2. While boarding dogs is not a high margin business, it is NOT in the interest of Petsmart to let a ‘culture’ of abuse to develop. Reader Matt is convinced that his dog was mistreated, which has in turn started a firestorm of media problems. On this site alone, figuratively speaking, crowds of potential customers are running from their doors chanting ‘Petsmart is Evil!’ That being said, what company would think this is a reasonable risk for a hourly employee?

    3. Again, having worked with dogs in boarding kennels before, trust me when I say you need to really like dogs to clean up shit and piss all day, get accidentally bitten by dogs who get excited by the shear volume of animals around, and deal with pet-parents’ adolescent and misguided perceptions of their dog’s needs. Most folks who don’t like dogs enough drop this job quick; I’ve seen it happen.

    Lastly, now that we’re all worked-up about animal rights, I suggest we express our concern proactively and donate online to a animal protection group like Last Chance for Animals. If there’s a real problem, I think a group like LCA will get to the bottom of it. I think I’ll go do that now…

  72. MustardPlug says:

    I loves dogs. =) Ask anyone. I appreciate Reader Matt’s concern for his dogs wellfare. You have to stay on top of it. I think he did the right thing by working his way up the chain of command to make sure this got addressed fully. That being said I think that he should acknowledge that his perception is that of protective parent, and therefore may not contain the whole truth.

    I have worked in boarding kennels I agree with moonbeamlai and applejuice on a number of points:

    1. Take personal responsibility for dog’s welfare, know the folks taking care of your dogs. Ask them very specific questions about their routines and facilities. Ask them if you can see the facilities. Use your judgment, if they make you nervous find someone else. There are plenty of loving folks out there; box-chain or otherwise. Remember though that their routine may be a bit different than the yours at home. They take care of a whole pack of dogs at once, so life can be a bit different.

    2. You have to really love dogs to work these jobs. You have a legion of pooping and peeing machines. And since they are not at home they often seem to think any old place wiil do. Just like at home they need attention. Pet-parents may not know about their dog, but some like to rough-house. They get all excited by someone new to play with and accidentally punch a hole in your finger with their teeth. Or maybe they’re just a little nervous with all the non-humans around, and again accidentally do the same thing. Lastly, you have to deal with the occasional adolescent and misguided parents’ perceptions of their dogs needs.

    3. While animal boarding is not a high margin business, it is not in the interest of any business to risk a media firestorm over an hourly employee. Speaking frankly, I would argue that Petsmart could take better care of your dog because unlike a kennel-only busines they can pad the bottom line with sales from the retail side during the off season. This tempers the need to over-book during the high season to covers expenses when things are slow. Even at good kennels I’ve seen this happen.

    So again I would say that I’m glad that Reader Matt is taking his dogs welfare seriously but he should take the opportunity to collect as much of the truth as possible.

    Lastly, I think I’m gonna dash over to Last Chance for Animals and donate some money. If there is a problem, they’ll get to the bottom of it.

  73. MustardPlug says:

    Huh, I thought it lost that first one. Hmf…

  74. wildgolden says:

    Most of you will assume I’m biased, and I guess I am because I am a former Petshotel employee… but nevertheless some of the claims some of you are making are entirely unfair and not true. You should gather your facts before making accusations that Petsmart hires just anyone off the streets, and before you start making assumptions about Petsmarts boarding facilities.

    The pet parent that witnessed this had a right, and should have exercized that right further, to see the video. A District Manager simply saying no shouldn’t stop someone who genuinely believed that what they saw was animal abuse… they could have brought the issue to the attention of the ABKA or the Humane Society if they felt there was really a situation that was endangering thier pets.

    The Petshotel is a lot more secure than most mom and pop boarding facilities because they have cut and clear rules about the care and comfort of your pet… your local boarding facilities are filthy and wreak of feces and dirty dog… the animals are more succeptible to communicable diseases because most mom and pops can’t afford the high tech air filtration that Petsmart can cover, and also they do not have regulations imposed on them that a large company does.

    The claim that Petsmart hires just anyone off the streets is completely unfounded… Petsmart employees have to undergo a background check and a drug test before being hired… Petshotel has it’s own set of employees with it’s own set of policies and procedures in addition to the store P&P, so the associates in there are always under close scrutiny and will be taken care of if they are not following those guidelines.

    On occaision there are times when an employee may act innappropriately, and those employees are dismissed immediately if they are found to be in the wrong… I myself have been witness to employees being written up for breaking up a dog fight in which a pet parent thought she looked like she was kicking the dog, even though it was clear in the tapes that she wasn’t… she was just trying to break up a fight, and ended up getting herself hurt instead of the dogs getting hurt.

    It makes no sense for Petsmart to protect an employee for hurting an animal… in terms of a business, that is fiscally and ethically irresponsible. Would you keep an associate that was causing you to lose clientele?

    The facilities at Petsmart are subject to all of the inspections and requirements of other boarding facilities and then some. The hotel I worked at was required to be inspected randomly by Animal Control Officers, they all had to be American Boarding and Kennel Association members. The Hotel has nothing to hide, and if you insist they will give you a tour and answer any of the wuestions you have for them… Petmsart isn’t in this business to hire people to beat animals and neglect them… they wouldn’t be able to stay in business if that were the case.

  75. hoosier_park says:

    I worked at the petsmart when this happened and they simply over reacted. The guy that was working in the room loves dogs and would never do anything to hurt them. He was simply playing with the bigger dogs not striking them.