Today is the 6 month anniversary of the death of our precious Yorkie, Harley. The following story is the story of her passing, far too soon in life, at the hands of a neglectful person and industry providing services to pet owners. Her story is also a call to action. If you are a pet owner, know that it is your right and responsibility to know the people and the regulations, or lack of, governing those who provide services to our beloved companion animals. We ask that you share this blog on your Facebook pages and blog sites to get the word out and Harley’s story into the hands of as many as possible.
Our dog was killed by the groomer who has groomed our dogs many times. April 28, 2018, will forever be the day I dropped our two Yorkies off at the groomer not realizing we would never see one of them alive again. Two hours after I had dropped them off the groomer called to tell me Harley was “gone”. “What do you mean gone?”, I shouted into the phone. From what I was told the groomer walked away from the grooming table to tend to a customer who had come through the door. Harley, not secured in any way, jumped off the table and ran out the open door. The groomer says she chased after Harley for a few blocks, then sent her husband looking for her on his motorcycle; Harley weighed 6 pounds and the groomer’s husband gave chase until losing sight of her.
Five hours searching the neighborhoods, talking with everyone who would stand still long enough, posting our story on every pet chat board, social media site, and checking with animal control and the shelter, my daughter and a friend helping us search, found her lifeless body on the boulevard several blocks from the grooming establishment. Harley had been hit by a car, and someone, or maybe the same one, moved her body to the boulevard and placed a purple winter cap over her tiny head. When I arrived at the scene my daughter was rocking back and forth screaming and sobbing, “why, why, why”. I fell to my knees. My heart felt as if it had been ripped from my chest as I looked at the little body of the dog who had been a constant companion for the past 5 years. I reached for the purple cap and my daughter, through sobs, pleaded, “Mom, please don’t take off the cap, I don’t want you to see her.” But I had to, she was my baby. I picked up her limp, lifeless body and held her to my chest and silently sobbed. For over 45 minutes my daughter, husband, and I sat on that boulevard while cars sped by in a rush to get somewhere. Our world had stopped. We cried, cradled, and caressed our little Yorkie whose spirit and love for life was much bigger than her 6-pound body. I still cry almost every night.
In the state of Kansas, as in many other states, groomers are not regulated by any board. There is no oversight of any kind, yet hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on their services by pet owners every year. We, who love our animals like family, entrust our companions to these people who may or may not provide for their safety. There is no legal recourse to sue because the state of Kansas, and many others, consider family pets to be personal property and only worth ‘replacement value’. Laws need to change. Groomers must be regulated and inspected to ensure safe practices when family pets are in their care. Pets need to be recognized as family members in the eyes of the law.
In March of 2018, Kansas passed a law making it legal to break into a hot car to save a child or animal, implying animals have value beyond personal property. I have written to legislators, celebrities, contacted the media, and have gotten few responses. There are animal cruelty laws in every state, yet no one jumps on a bandwagon to shout a call to action unless a sensational story of extreme cruelty or the plight of puppy mills and shelters is broadcast far and wide. Other forms of cruelty and negligence occur every day.
I challenge you to do an internet search of the number of dogs who die at the hands of groomers. The numbers are overwhelming and sobering. Family pet owners all over the country mourn the loss of their beloved pets with little to no legal recourse. Will any amount of money awarded in a court of law bring back our pets? No, and it would be impossible to put a dollar amount to a beloved furry family member. What legal recourse does do is highlight the injustice and brings the awareness and need for change to the forefront. In 2012, a Colorado woman was awarded $65, 000 for the loss of her pet when a maid service had let their dog escape when leaving the home. It was an unprecedented victory in animal law, and in Colorado, as Colorado has personal property and replacement value laws, as well. If this kind of victory can be won in Colorado, it can be won in other states. Unfortunately, Colorado animal laws have not changed as a result.
The reality is the favorable Colorado animal death judgment was one case, led by one person willing to challenge the legal system and state laws, and one lawyer willing to take on the challenge. What if there were hundreds of lawsuits filed all over the country challenging the legal system and current state laws to force change, to force regulation of the grooming industry, and force the judicial system to consider more than replacement value for a pet by looking at the emotional price families pay for the loss of their family pets? Laws would change, pets would obtain the status they deserve; a member of the family.
Stand with us for change! Contact your legislators and ask them to take action to regulate the grooming industry, and other pet service providers. Copy and paste this blog on your facebook pages and get the word out! Thank you for standing with us and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves…..