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PetSmart Under Fire After Four Dogs Die During Grooming Appointments

Scruffles. Photo Credit: Facebook/Justice for Scruffles
PetSmart in Toms River. Photo Credit: Google Maps

PetSmart is facing backlash after a fourth dog - including three in New Jersey - was pronounced dead after being taken in for routine grooming appointments in the past few months, according to multiple reports.

In the past five months, four dogs have been found dead - most recently when an 8-year-old corgi died in Toms River - during grooming appointments, leading to allegations of animal mistreatment at the nationwide store.

According to a report from NBC's "Today," one of the dog owners, who lost her bulldog during a grooming appointment on Dec. 29, is planning a lawsuit, claiming that PetSmart employees used a dryer on the animal, despite warnings not to do so because the dog suffers from anxiety.

“I just hope she didn’t suffer,” Danielle DiNapoli told "Today" on Tuesday, according to the report. “But I think she did, because for her to die that quickly, she must have been so scared.”

In a statement, PetSmart said that its employees “follow rigorous practices,” and stated that there was a pending animal autopsy planned. A task force has also been set up to evaluate PetSmart’s procedures in handling animals.

In response to the death of their bulldog, the DiNapoli’s set up a Facebook page for Scruffles, which had led to dozens of other stories of mistreatment and odd deaths of dogs in the area. a national protest is also in the works. Scruffles’ story will reportedly be featured on NBC and other national programs this week.

A New Jersey lawmaker has also introduced "Scruffles Law," a bill that would allow pet owners to recoup economic damages against an organization or party that harms a pet. The proposal would give pet owners the opportunity to sue for statutory damages and punitive damages based on emotional distress, according to attorney and Congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis. 

“The recent death at PetSmart grooming in Toms River is one too many,” they posted on their ‘Justice for Scruffles’ Facebook page. “This must be stopped. I am organizing a national protest on May 5, and am asking for organizers for each of their respective areas. We need to take action, and this is perfect timing.” 

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