Sadie, a beloved 6-year-old Lhasa Apso in good health, died in 2008 after a regular grooming session at a California Petco. She became ill while inside a cage dryer, a kennel with an air blower attached (sometimes heated, sometimes not) and was immediately taken for emergency medical care. The veterinarian treating her concluded that the dog died of “severe heatstroke.” But was the heatstroke caused by the actions of Petco’s employees, as her owner’s lawsuit alleges?
There have been other documented cases of dogs dying after time spent in a drying cage, including the pet of TV host Meredith Viera’s assistant. It’s rare, though. “It would be pretty hard to kill a dog with a cage dryer unless you are really negligent,” one local groomer told the Sacramento Bee.
Since pets are legally property in California, not family members, a case for damages is difficult to make. It took two years to find a lawyer. This isn’t about money, though–Sadie’s owner wants Petco to stop using cage dryers entirely in its grooming salons, or to offer customers the choice of having their pet hand-dried. (Petco has since stopped the use of heated cage dryers.) The company’s lawyer told the Bee that the owner’s lawsuit doesn’t prove how the behavior of Petco employees directly led to the dog’s death.
Medical records state that Sadie suffered from “severe respiratory distress” due to the heatstroke, and her body temperature reached 107 degrees, when a dog’s normal temperature should be 100-102. She suffered from internal burns and bleeding, and the owner claims that she saw scratch marks and blood in the kennel in question.
“It never occurred to me that they were putting her in that kennel,” Sadie’s owner told a local television station. “It’s nothing you can see… it’s not out there for the public to see. It’s an enclosed kennel and they blow hot air in there.”
Dog’s death raises question about pet grooming dryer [Sacramento Bee]
Fair Oaks dog owner fights to keep other pets safe [News 10]