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Grooming Blunder Leads to Lawsuit for Petco


We have all taken our pets to the groomer to get them all spruced up at one time or another. How would you feel if you went to pick them up and they had an injury they didn’t go in with?

That is exactly what happened after Gladys Kupuwai dropped off her granddaughter’s Pomeranian-Maltese mix, Dodo, for routine grooming at Petco in Kaneohe, Hawaii. A couple of days later, she realized one of her ears had been cut. “(She) was dried, bloody, was dry blood, everything,” Kapuwai said. “I noticed that at home, so when I took her to the vet, the doctor had told me it looked like they tried to glue it back.” The doctor told Kupuwai he could have saved the ear if the groomers had told her right then, but they didn’t.

Honolulu attorney Michael Green will not only represent Kupuwai but also his wife Estelle who experienced a similar situation at the same Petco. The incident with Dodo happened in July 2011, we have not been able to find when Hope experienced her injuries.

Green stated “The nails are bleeding because they were cut too short, the dog was filthy and the tip of the dog’s tail was cut off”. She did say that the pet store did offer a free grooming after she complained. The lawsuit claims Hope also sustained cut eyelashes and whiskers.

The lawsuit was filed on Monday, February 13, 2012 in state court by Honolulu attorney Michael Green. Green says that Petco’s management was unsympathetic when asked to explain. The plaintiffs claim they suffered serious emotional distress and anxiety, and said they are seeking unspecified damages. Kapuwai hopes the lawsuit will lead to stricter guidelines for groomers, and prompt Petco to improve training and safety standards. She says that all she expected was basic competence, and above all, honesty.

When talking to the press, Green said “My dog, they offered another free grooming, I guess they wanted to take off other body parts.” Kapuwai stated “I couldn’t believe what they did. I started crying because this is our baby, too, you know.”

San Diego-based Petco said in a statement that it takes “any animal care concerns very seriously and we’re actively investigating these cases.”

“We can’t comment on the specifics at this time, but we can tell you that we have very strong standards and policies in place for the care and treatment of animals in our grooming salon and we provide training on those standards and policies for our grooming associates,” the statement said.

We are 100% for animal rights and certainly against animal cruelty but have a slight problem with these particular two cases. First of all, we find it hard to believe that the absence of or gluing part of an ear wouldn’t be noticed immediately. And did Estelle complain because the pup was filthy or complain about the missing part of the tail? It seems odd that a company would offer an additional free grooming if the complaint was centered around negligence in the first place. There are just too many unanswered questions here.

Still, it seems that at least in these cases, animals didn’t come first at Petco. The press coverage we’ve seen didn’t give a lot of detail and we haven’t been able to find an official press release from Petco about it. Guess a trip to Hawaii to follow the case is in order!

Please don’t think we are taking the accusations lightly, any harm to any pet warrants punishment. If you take your dog to the groomer, make sure to thoroughly inspect every inch of your baby before you leave. And if you’re a groomer at Petco or anywhere else, let someone know when an accident occurs so the pet gets the attention it needs. Both owner and groomer and pets benefit from putting the pet first.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. Christina Lederman on

    I am a groomer. Yes grooming an unruly pup can be stressful but to actually injure a pet to that degree and then cover it up is absolutely atrocious! I would be devastated if one of my babies ears or anything for that matter was cut! I hope this poor family is compensated and the poor pup has a long and happy life.

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