SAN MATEO, Calif. – A PetSmart groomer has been arrested after a 1-year-old dachshund died while in his care, officials said.
The dog’s owner indicated that he had taken his dog, Henry, to the store for a grooming session when the groomer, Juan Zarate, 38, of San Francisco, said the dog was suffering from a medical emergency. The dog was bleeding from the mouth and having trouble breathing, police said.
Zarate took Henry to the on-site veterinarian who tried to save the animal, but it died a few minutes later.
An X-ray determined the dog had suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung, officials said.
Officers eventually determined that Zarate likely contributed to the animal’s death and he was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty, police said.
The Peninsula Humane Society took custody of the dog and will conduct a necropsy to determine the nature of the injuries and the specific cause of death.
“This is a tragic case of animal cruelty and thus, led to decisive action in the arrest of the alleged offender,” police said in the news release. “The pets in our community can’t speak for themselves, so its inherent on all of us to be alert to the signs and symptoms of animal cruelty and neglect.”
“We are heartbroken by the loss of Henry,” PetSmart spokeswoman Michelle Friedman told the Los Angeles Times. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pets, and we take full responsibility for the pets in our care.”
PetSmart said it is working with police and will take immediate action on any findings made, according to the Times.
“Any incident of animal cruelty goes against everything we believe as a company and as individual pet parents,” Friedman said. “No words can express our deep sorrow for the family, and we will continue to work with the pet parent during this difficult time.”
Zarate posted bail and was released from custody Monday night, according to the Times.
He is scheduled to appear in court on June 23 and prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine whether charges will be filed against Zarate, San Mateo County District Atty. Steve Wagstaffe told the Times.