Iselin, NEW JERSEY — A new investigation is raising questions about the safety of dogs at PetSmart.
The nine-month probe by NJ Advance Media uncovered 47 dogs’ deaths shortly after routine grooming—sometimes just a 15-minute nail trimming. In a lengthy response, the chain insists it has the “highest safety standards in the industry,” but also said it is rolling out improvements in training and oversight.
The investigation documented 47 deaths in 14 states since 2008, with Pennsylvania having the most at nine. Two points:
- English bulldogs and similar breeds, known to have breathing difficulties, accounted for 20 of the 47 deaths. The chain says such breeds will now only be allowed to have “express” groomings that limit the time the dog spends in the salon.
- Most of the deaths—32—occurred after 2015, the year PetSmart was acquired by the private equity firm BC Partners for $8.7 billion.
One former employee told reporters that the new owners put pressure on stores to increase volume.
“When the new owners bought it, they demanded six to eight dogs in eight hours,” says the worker, who worked as a salon manager at two PetSmart locations in New Jersey before quitting after the takeover. “This is in addition to walk-in clients, the phones are ringing off the hook, you’re meeting with pet parents, doing paperwork. … There’s always pressure to do more dogs.”
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