Pets & Animals

Recent pet deaths renew calls for regulation of pet grooming industry

Allison Marks never thought she was putting her golden retriever in danger when she dropped him off for a recent grooming appointment. But when she called to check in, she was directed to an animal clinic.

“I can't breathe. I feel like I lost my best friend,” she told TODAY about her beloved pet, who likely died of heat stroke, according to a veterinarian.

Colby’s death, along with several recent others, have ignited calls for government regulation over the $6 billion pet grooming industry. In addition to Colby, who died after being dropped off at a Petco in Virginia, other deaths include a toy poodle in California and an Airedale terrier in New Jersey.

At least three states — New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts — are now considering laws to put rules in place in the largely unregulated pet grooming industry. The tragedies also are prompting experts to share advice.

Teri DiMarino of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association says pet owners should weigh several factors beyond price, like a salon's background, when picking a place to pamper their pet.

"What are your qualifications, where did you learn, how long have you been doing this?” she said.

Krista Heinz, a pet salon owner in Washington, D.C., encouraged pet owners to be more active about a site's operation.

“If they want to see where their dog is going, they should definitely go and take a look,” she said.

Petco, the chain where Marks took her dog, Colby, told NBC News that heat was not used to dry the dog. But it also said the “type of kennel dryer” Colby was housed in has been “removed from service in all Petco stores.”

“It’s clear our animal care protocols were not followed when it came to Colby,” the company said. The employees responsible also have been fired, Petco said.

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