Healthy Dog Dies Being Groomed at PetSmart, But it's Not the 1st Death at This Store


UPDATE, Feb. 7, 2020: On Jan. 20, 2020, Danielle DiNapoli apologized on social media after blaming PetSmart for the death of her dog in 2017. DiNapoli claims to have “since learned that other health factors caused Scruffles’ death and PetSmart did not kill my dear Scruffles.”

In a Feb. 6 statement, PetSmart said DiNapoli had “engaged in a concerted, national smear campaign against the company,” adding that “we are glad that the facts came to light and that truth prevailed in this case.”

This story still appears as it did when originally published.

Grooming an animal sounds like such an innocuous activity, an everyday comfort that can only help a pet. But one Lambertville, New Jersey, woman contends that a grooming session at a national pet retailer cost the life of her beloved bulldog.

On December 29, 2017, at 9:45 a.m., Danielle DiNapoli left her pooch Scruffles at a New Jersey PetSmart for a routine cleaning.

This wasn’t the first time Scruffles had been to that particular location, and the 8-year-old bulldog was in good health.

Less than an hour later, she got a call from the store saying she needed to get to a local veterinarian. By the time she arrived, Scruffles had already passed away.

The vet told her that staff had attempted CPR on the dog, but for all intents and purposes, the animal was dead on arrival.

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To DiNapoli, though, the fact that not a single PetSmart staff member had stayed at the clinic was almost as disturbing as Scruffles’s unexpected passing.

“They dropped her off like a pizza,” she told ABC 7 Chicago. “They left her dead.”

DiNapoli immediately confronted PetSmart employees and management, only to receive conflicting reports.

One statement indicated that Scruffles had been placed in a specialized dryer, a device that can harm bulldogs.

PetSmart released a statement saying, “We are truly saddened by the loss of Scruffles. We immediately conducted a comprehensive internal investigation and found the associates involved followed all policies and procedures consistent with care and services provided to breeds such as bulldogs.

“The outstanding piece of the investigation is the result of the necropsy report, which will likely assist in understanding the overall circumstances leading to Scruffles’ unfortunate passing. Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Scruffles’ family, and we continue to be in contact with them during this difficult time.”

DiNapoli said she found such assurances to be cold comfort after her healthy dog died while being groomed, particularly after learning that it’s not the first death at this store.

A Flemington, New Jersey, resident named Tara Fiet reached out to DiNapoli on Facebook and explained that her dog, Ranger, had visited the location a week prior to Snuffles’ death.

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He’d seemed lethargic and tired after coming home, behavior Fiet chalked up to overexertion. On Christmas Eve, he died unexpectedly.

“It’s just a terrible story,” DiNapoli’s husband Tom said.

“But we are just hoping other people don’t have to deal with this.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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