San Mateo police

Dog Dies at San Mateo PetSmart While in Care of Groomer

A postmortem X-ray determined Henry had suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung

A PetSmart groomer has been arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty after a dog died in his care at a store in San Mateo, California, authorities said.

The dog, a 1-year-old male dachshund named Henry, died Sunday at the PetSmart in the 3500 block of South El Camino Real. Officers responded and spoke with the dog's owner, a 47-year old San Mateo resident who said he brought Henry to the store to be groomed, according to police.

About three minutes later, the groomer, identified as 38-year old Juan Zarate of San Francisco, exited the grooming office holding Henry and told officers the dog was suffering a medical emergency, police said. Henry was bleeding from the mouth and having trouble breathing.

Zarate took Henry to the on-site veterinarian, who took emergency measures to try to save him. The dog died a few minutes later, police said.

A postmortem X-ray determined Henry had suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung, authorities said.

San Mateo police determined Zarate's deliberate actions contributed to the dog's death. Zarate was arrested at the scene and booked on suspicion of felony animal cruelty. He posted bail Monday and is no longer in custody. It's not clear if he has hired an attorney.

The Humane Society will conduct a necropsy on Henry to determine his cause of death.

PetSmart said in a statement Monday it is "heartbroken over the loss of Henry."

"Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pets, and we take full responsibility for the pets in our care," PetSmart said.

The company said it is conducting an internal investigation, and Zarate is suspended pending the outcome.

"Any incident of animal cruelty goes against everything we believe as a company and as individual pet parents," PetSmart said in the statement. "No words can express our deep sorrow for the family, and we will continue to work with the pet parent during this difficult time."

Hannah Hartman, who said her dog was maimed a couple years ago at another pet store, was devastated to learn of Henry's death but said she wasn't entirely surprised.

"My dog was almost killed and had to have a major hip surgery," she said.

Hartman, who has taken up the cause, said there is no law in California regulating pet groomers. While some are licensed, Hartman said, it's not mandated by the state.

A bill dubbed "Lucy's Law" was proposed in 2012 after a dog was severely injured by a groomer. Lawmakers rejected the measure, and Hartman has been fighting to revive it ever since.

"If the groomer is no longer working in that salon, he could be grooming a mile down the street," she said.

Teri DiMarino, president and founder of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association, said "Lucy's Law" is not the answer.

"Legislation and licensing is not going to do a whole lot of good because as with any licensed industry, there is no standard and no test for carelessness and stupidity,” DiMarino said.

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