Poor Performance And Apparent Mistreatment Of Service Animals
LACEY, WASHINGTON -- We have two chihuahua Hearing Assist dogs that we have trained to alert us to situations in our environment that a fully hearing person would never think of twice. They allow us to function in a world that is slowly becoming silent. In order to help fit into the hearing world better, we are scrupulous about keeping them groomed, so as not to offend or aggravate the dander allergies of others.
We have our animals groomed on a regular basis in our home area of Casa Grande, AZ, and are thrilled with the care they give Munchkin and BearBear. They are regularly bathed, trimmed, given sanitary clips, and generally, kept cleaner than most people. Munchkin, especially, has problems with the hair on her feet growing into what we call 'Grinch feet.' Her usual grooming involves carefully trimming the hair on her feet, then trimming her nails.
We called two months ahead of time to the PetSmart in Lacey, WA, and set up appointments to have our animals groomed, as we are in contact with our new granddaughter and sort of adopted grandson, both born within two weeks of each other three months ago.
First, when Crystal called to confirm the appointments just before we left Arizona, our names had not been put in the book. Strike one.
When we arrived and dropped them off, the normal routine for PetSmart groomers is to carry these tiny (both less than 6 lbs) animals to the rear of the facility. Instead, they were drug through all this hair on the floor. Strike Two. When we picked them up a few hours later, here they came, dragging them through the hair again. We paid and left, a bit put out at the treatment of our animals by people who advertise that they care so much about your animals. We found that the feet had not been trimmed, the animals had obviously not been bathed, no sanitary trim, in fact, not much had been done at all. On top of that, something was done to Munchkin while she was there that has us perplexed. Prior to this so-called 'grooming,' she loved everyone, as was the way she was trained.
These two feared nothing and were as loving a pair as you ever saw. When we picked them up from PetSmart, Munchkin was suddenly afraid of men, and would actually try to get away from any man besides me that came near her. We are working hard to re-train her to be friendly, as most people interpret fear in an animal as a sign of a possible fear-biter. This hampers her ability to do her job.
PetSmart may have just ruined a service animal worth about ten thousand dollars, and may have made it necessary to reduce her to a common pet. We went back, and the so-called 'manager,' said we couldn't prove they hadn't bathed our animals, or that they had done anything to make Munchkin fear anyone, so they offered to trim her feet, and that was it. We will continue to use our regular groomer in Arizona, but will warn people living in the Lacey-Olympia-Tumwater area, avoid the PetSmart groomers in Lacey. If they will do this to a service animal, what will they do to your pet? I know this is under Crystal's name, but she asked me to write this, she is so upset that she felt I should write it.