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Puppy put to sleep due to sickness after being mistreated at the groomer

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Harry, an eight-month-old cockapoo, had to be put to sleep (SWNS)

By Hamish Morrison via SWNS

A heartbroken dog owner is calling for groomers to be regulated after her puppy had to be put to sleep following a visit where he was 'put in a drying cage.'

Mom-of-one Lisa O’Neill, 37, is still mourning the death of eight-month-old cockapoo Harry, who suffered a collapsed intestine shortly after being put in a drying cage at the groomer.

Harry was bought in October 2020 for £2,350 ($3,222) and was taken to an award-winning grooming salon in February 2021.

When he went in May, Harry was washed and then put in a 'drying cage' at the groomer, which Lisa declined to name, on May 6.

He collapsed and Lisa had to go to pick him up and took him to her local vets in Ayrshire.

Harry, before he tragically had to be euthanized (SWNS)

The next day he was taken to Vets Now Hospital, in Glasgow, and he was put to sleep on May 8.

Police officer Lisa, from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, is campaigning for dog groomers to be regulated, which animal welfare chiefs agree needs to happen.

The SSPCA has said Harry's death was not clinically attributable to the groomers but backed calls for regulations.

Harry's heartbroken owner is now calling for groomers to be regulated (SWNS)

Lisa said: “I did do a bit of research and the groomer I took him to had 30 years of experience, had won awards, so I had absolutely no qualms about taking him there.

“Being a novice and not knowing about cage dryers I didn’t know to ask the question.

“When I got him back he looked good, he smelled lovely, he was desperate for a drink but I thought that was quite natural after being dried.

“So away we went and I was quite happy to trust them.

“In May, it was the same scenario - a girl came and took him off me outside.

“About an hour later, I got a phone call saying Harry had collapsed while being dried.

“At this point, I still had no idea about a drying cage.

“It wasn’t until she told the vet what had happened they came back to me saying 'he had heatstroke and that these drying boxes are death traps.'

“It turns out, he had been put in a heated drying box and the timer was set for 30 minutes.

“Being an excitable puppy, he didn’t like being locked in anywhere so being locked in a drying box he would have jumped about the whole time.

“He was taken to Vets Now in Glasgow to try and treat him but unfortunately, the complication that arose from the heatstroke meant his blood wasn’t clotting.

“This was two days after it happened and we were going to get an operation to save him but it couldn’t go ahead because his blood wasn’t clotting due to how severe his heatstroke was.

“I had to go and sit with him while they put him to sleep.

“He had suffered horrendously before he was put to sleep.

“He had intussusception due to the stress and trauma of being locked in the box.

“The specialist said everything he’d suffered from, the heatstroke and the stress had caused an intussusception - where intestines go into themselves."

“But his blood wouldn’t clot so they couldn’t cut him open - he would have just bled out on the table.

“I can discuss it now without breaking down but it’s taken a while for that to happen.

“A dog is a member of the family.

“He definitely suffered tremendously, he was locked in a box.

“Harry if you put him in a crate, he would jump about, he didn’t want to be locked in, so to be locked in a heated box for that length of time, he would have been going crazy.”

She has now launched a petition to get the Scottish Government to act on regulating dog groomers which has gained nearly 3,000 signatures.

Lisa said: “It’s amazing the number of dog owners who know nothing about drying boxes, they hand their dog over and have no idea if they’re getting locked in a box or not.

“Scottish ministers do have the powers to regulate the industry, they just haven’t done it yet.

“I got in touch with the SSPCA at the time and the inspector who went out to investigate the groomer hadn’t even heard dryer boxes.

“Because there are no laws with groomers, they don’t need to tell you about it.

“The box was in working order, apparently it’s one of the best in the business, it cost £2,000, it wasn’t faulty, so there was nothing the SSPCA could do."

Harry out in the snow before the tragedy occurred (SWNS)

Scottish SPCA chief inspector Laura McIntyre said: “In May 2021 we investigated the heart-breaking death of a dog when he fell ill at a groomer shortly after being in a drying cage.

"The dog was taken to a private vet where his condition sadly deteriorated and he was ultimately put to sleep.

"We arranged for a post-mortem to take place, by an external organization, in order to fully investigate the circumstances.

"This post-mortem found the dog had not died from heatstroke. A follow-up check was also undertaken by a Scottish SPCA vet.

"Given the clinical view from veterinary experts was that the cause of death was not heatstroke or any other issue attributable to the treatment in the groomers, the investigation was closed.

"Expert opinion from veterinary professionals is crucial to any investigation the Scottish SPCA carries out.

“Dogs should be under constant supervision whilst at a groomer. It can be a stressful situation for some dogs and every step should be taken to ensure they are safe and comfortable at all times.

"The rapid increase of dog ownership in Scotland has led to a boom in businesses such as groomers.

"Whilst many are reliable, well-trained and care about the welfare of the dogs they groom, the Scottish SPCA backs greater regulation of the industry.

"Owners should do their research, check reviews and try to use a reputable groomer at all times.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring high standards of animal welfare for pets in Scotland. 

“It is an offense for people in charge of animals to cause them unnecessary suffering and we recently increased the maximum available penalties to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. 

“We have introduced a new framework for the licensing of some activities involving animals, and will be consulting on whether to extend this to additional activities, including potentially to dog grooming businesses.

"We plan to bring forward consultations in this area after allowing a period of familiarisation with the recent licensing changes so that the practical experiences of local authorities in implementing these can be considered in any future proposals. 

“We would encourage anyone with information on the mistreatment of an animal to bring it to the attention of Police Scotland, their local authority or the Scottish SPCA.”

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