Enzo was Darren Harris’s first dog.

To say he adored his bulldog would be an understatement. The 10-month-old dog loved this 22-year-old man like a father. So when he took Enzo to PetSmart for a grooming session, he had no idea something horrible was about to happen. Thirty minutes after the dropoff, Harris got a call asking him to ‘come quickly’ to the shop. When Harris and his mother, Tabitha Harris, got there, the staff greeted them with the news of Enzo’s death.

PetSmart’s groomers get training in order to give “specialized care” to Brachycephalic breeds. Bulldogs are one of them.

Their care includes the following protocols:
An enhanced Hands on Pet Assessment at check-in and check-out.
An Express Groom requirement, meaning very minimal time in a kennel
The use of harness-style methods, rather than leads around the neck.
Pets are towel dried or hand-held drying is utilized, rather than kennel drying.
No muzzles are to be used.

Even though PetSmart says that they’ve followed the procedure, Enzo started showing distress symptoms. So they immediately took him to a vet located in the Banfield Pet Hospital. They gave him oxygen therapy, sedation, and CPR. But they couldn’t save him.

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Right now, PetSmart is blaming Enzo’s kidney condition for his death. Enzo’s doctor, Dr. Richard Jakimer, the owner of Manor Veterinary Clinic in Pelham, NY, said, “Kidney failure usually takes a long time. There are signs of illness. The dogs won’t walk, doesn’t want to eat, will vomit. Enzo was not exhibiting any of those signs. Kidney disease, especially in the state Enzo was in, would not lead to an acute death. It was pretty much incidental at the time.”

Since pet autopsy isn’t really done, the real cause of death remains a mystery. But Harris and his family still believe that PetSmart is to blame. Tabitha Harris said in a statement, “Enzo was running back and forth because he was in such a panic because his throat was closing up on him. I don’t know how well equipped they are to deal with English Bulldogs.”

Sure of their claims, the Harris family has filed a lawsuit against the shop.

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What’s worse is that this is not a singular event.

PetSmart has had complaints against them since 2008. In 10 years, a total of 47 dogs in 14 states have died during or shortly after being groomed at PetSmart. 32 of those happened after one private equity bought out the chain in 2015.

Out of 47, 20 of those dogs were English Bulldogs.

This is a heartbreaking time for Harris and his family. Losing Enzo because of a simple mistake has made them look more valiantly for justice. Hopefully, they’ll find them.

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