Dog dies during grooming at NJ PetSmart; pet's owner wants answers

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Chuck Crawford said he dropped off his two corgis, Abby and Harley, at the PetSmart in Toms River for grooming at 8 a.m. on March 29. When he received a telephone call at 9:45 a.m., Crawford assumed the dogs were ready to be picked up.

Instead, he received the news that 8-year-old Abby was dead, and was told to pick up the dog’s body at a PetSmart in nearby Brick, the Toms River Patch reported.

Crawford said he was angered by the coldness of the call from the PetSmart employee.

“It was a 20-second phone call. It was so crude and beyond comprehension,” Crawford told NJ.com. “To take your pet for a grooming, and then have them die? That is the absolute worst thing.

“I have extreme anger and extreme grief. I don't know what happened with Abby, there were no health issues whatsoever,” Crawford said. “I went through absolute hell that day. She's my little sweetheart.”

In December, two dogs died in a Flemington PetSmart, a week apart from one another, NJ.com reported.

Danielle DiNapoli, the owner of Scruffles, a bulldog who died on Dec. 29 after being dropped off for grooming at the Flemington store, started a Facebook page -- Justice for Scruffles -- in hopes of getting PetSmart to close down its grooming salons, the Patch reported.

Crawford said he was met at the Brick store by a veterinarian and assistant managers from the Toms River and Brick stores.

"They all said ‘We don't know,’ 50 times," Crawford, 76, told the Patch.

PetSmart issued a statement saying an internal review was conducted “to help us better understand the timeline of events and what happened.” 

Crawford said he took Abby’s body to the Animal Health Diagnostic Lab in nearby Ewing for a necropsy, which is an autopsy for animals. Results could take a month, NJ.com reported.

PetSmart officials said the results “could clarify the circumstances which caused Abby's unfortunate passing and potentially reveal any pre-existing conditions,” NJ.com reported.

Crawford had taken both dogs to a veterinarian a few weeks ago. While Abby was healthy, Crawford was told that 10-year-old Harley was suffering from an aggressive cancer and had less than two months to live, NJ.com reported.

"I've lost both of my pets. I'm extremely angry," he told NJ.com. "I'll never take my dog to a PetSmart or PetCo or any of them ever again.

"I'll give them a bath in my garage."

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