A dog owner was heartbroken after his puppy had to fall asleep after a visit to a dog salon.
Mother-of-one Lisa O’Neill, 37, still mourns the death of eight-month-old cockapoo Harry, who suffered a collapsed bowel shortly after being placed in a “drying cage “at a groomer.
Harry was bought in October 2020 for £ 2,350 and taken to an award-winning grooming salon in February 2021.
However, when he went there in May, Harry was washed and then placed in a ‘drying cage’ at the groomers, which Lisa declined to name, on May 6.
He collapsed and Lisa had to pick him up and took him to her local vets in Ayrshire.
Lisa O’Neill / SWNS)
The next day he was taken to Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow and was put to sleep on May 8.
Police Officer Lisa, from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, is campaigning for dog groomers to be regulated, which animal welfare chiefs agree to do.
The SSPCA said Harry’s death was not clinically attributable to the groomers, but supported calls for regulation.
Lisa said: “I did some research and the groomer I took him to had 30 years of experience, had won awards, so I had absolutely no qualms about taking him there.
“Being a novice and unfamiliar with cage dryers, I didn’t know how to ask the question.
“When I got it back it looked good, it smelled good, it was in desperate need of a drink but I thought it was pretty natural after it got dried.
“So we left and I was happy enough to trust them.
“In May, it was the same scenario – a girl came and took him outside.
“About an hour later I got a phone call saying that Harry had collapsed while he was dry.
Lisa O’Neill / SWNS)
“At this point, I still had no idea of a drying cage.
“It wasn’t until she told the vet what had happened that they came back to me saying ‘he’s had heatstroke and these drying boxes are death traps.’
“It turned out that it had been placed in a heated drying box and the timer was set for 30 minutes.
“Being an excitable puppy he didn’t like being locked up anywhere so being locked in a drying box he would have jumped all the time.
“He was taken to Vets Now in Glasgow to try and treat him, but unfortunately the complication that resulted from the heatstroke meant his blood was not clotting.
“It was two days after this happened and we were going to have an operation to save him, but it couldn’t happen because his blood was not clotting due to the severity of his heatstroke.
“I had to go and sit with him while they put him to sleep.
Lisa O’Neill / SWNS)
“He had suffered terribly before falling asleep.
“He had an intussusception from the stress and trauma of being locked in the box.
“The specialist said that everything he suffered, heat stroke and stress, caused intussusception – where the intestines fold in on themselves.
“But his blood wasn’t clotting, so they couldn’t open it – it would have just bled on the table.”
“I can discuss it now without breaking up, but it took a while for it to happen.
“A dog is a member of the family.
“He definitely suffered a lot, he was locked in a box.
“Harry, if you put him in a crate he would jump all over the place, he didn’t want to be locked up, so being locked in a heated box during that time he would have gone mad.”
She has now launched a petition to get the Scottish government to act on the regulation of dog groomers, which has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures.
Lisa said: “It’s amazing how many dog owners who don’t know anything about drying boxes, they hand their dog over and have no idea if they are boxed or not.
“Scottish ministers have the power to regulate the industry, they just haven’t done so yet.
“I contacted the SSPCA at the time and the inspector who had gone out to investigate the groomer hadn’t even heard the dryer boxes.
“Because there are no laws with groomers, they don’t need to tell you about it.
“The box was in working order, apparently one of the best on the market, it cost £ 2,000, it was not faulty so there was nothing the SSPCA could do.”
Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector Laura McIntyre said: ‘In May 2021, we investigated the heartbreaking death of a dog when he fell ill at a groomer shortly after being in a cage drying.
“The dog was taken to a private veterinarian where his condition unfortunately deteriorated and he was eventually put to sleep.
“We arranged for an autopsy to take place, by an outside organization, in order to fully investigate the circumstances.
“This autopsy revealed that the dog did not die of heat stroke. A follow-up check was also carried out by a Scottish SPCA veterinarian.
“Given the clinical opinion of veterinary experts that the cause of death was not heat stroke or any other treatment-related problem in the groomers, the investigation was closed.
“The expert advice of veterinary professionals is crucial to any investigation by the Scottish SPCA.
“Dogs need to be under constant supervision when they are at a groomer. This can be a stressful situation for some dogs and every step should be taken to ensure that they are safe and comfortable at all times.
“The rapid increase in the number of dog owners in Scotland has led to a boom in businesses such as groomers.
“While many are reliable, well-trained and mindful of the welfare of the dogs they groom, the Scottish SPCA supports stricter industry regulation.
“Owners should do your research, check reviews, and try to use a reputable groomer at all times. “
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to ensuring high standards of animal welfare for pets in Scotland.
“It is an offense for those in charge of animals to cause them unnecessary suffering and we recently increased the maximum sentences available to five years in prison and an unlimited fine.
“We have introduced a new framework for the licensing of certain activities involving animals, and we will be consulting on whether to extend this to additional activities, potentially including dog grooming businesses.
“We plan to advance the consultations in this area after granting a period of familiarization with the recent license changes, so that the practical experiences of local authorities in their implementation can be taken into account in all future proposals.
“We encourage anyone with information about animal abuse to report it to the Scottish Police, their local authority or the Scottish SPCA.”