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Dog Mom Hopes Her Personal Heartbreak Will Raise Awareness About Groomer Safety

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Jayme Buck dropped her 3 Shih Tzus, Brewsky, Guinness and Tashi off to be groomed on September 27, 2016 just as she had on dozens of other mornings.

Less than 2 hours later she received a call telling her to get back to the office right away. She was told “the little brown one” had collapsed and they could not resuscitate him.

Jayme rushed to the grooming salon in a panic. She had no idea which of her 3 dogs they were referring to. Brewsky, age 12 and Guinness, age 8 are tan in color, but maybe in the heat of the moment the woman had misspoken? Surely it couldn’t be Tashi – he was only 5-years-old and perfectly healthy.

When Jayme arrived she found that it was indeed her youngest dog. The chocolate-colored pooch was limp and unresponsive. As she frantically tried to revive him, the business owner explained that Tashi had climbed out of the tub during his bath, crossed a center table, and gotten into a second tub with Brewsky. She said that he then collapsed and never regained consciousness.

A friend rushed Jayme and Tashi to her vet’s office, but it was too late. The young, energetic dog had passed away. Shocked and fearing that she had somehow caused his death, Jayme agreed to a $700 necropsy – the veterinary version of an autopsy – to determine what had gone wrong.

Later, as Jayme thought about the day’s events, she realized that a few things had been off. Her groomer of 7 years was not there that morning and a young girl she did not know had checked the dogs in. Also, when she was cradling Tashi’s lifeless body, the business owner offered to buy her a new puppy – a strange gesture if Tashi had simply collapsed.

That night, Jayme received a call from her vet. He told her that there would be no need for a necropsy because the business owner had called him and explained what truly happened to Tashi. Apparently he jumped out of the tub with a lead around his neck while the young girl was bathing him. The simple nylon lead, intended to keep him safe, had broken his neck.

A million thoughts and emotions swirled through Jayme’s mind and body – grief, anger, heartbreak, helplessness, and more. Although she never doubted that Tashi’s death was unintentional, she suspected that negligence had played a role. Why wasn’t Tashi being monitored more closely? Why was the lead long enough to break his neck during a fall, when the whole purpose of this tool is to prevent dogs from jumping at all?

She discussed her options with a lawyer friend and learned that in Florida – as in most US states – dogs are considered personal property. Any legal action would focus on Tashi’s “financial worth” – a silly concept considering his life was priceless to Jayme.

She is not interested in financial gain or punishing the staff who were supposed to be caring for Tashi that day, but she does want to know that they will make changes to ensure it never happens again. With no legal recourse on her side, Jayme feels powerless to protect other dogs from suffering the same fate.

Without major changes to the standards that grooming professionals are held to, tragedies like this can and will happen again. Groomers currently have several options for seeking formal training and certification, but most states don’t require them to have any credentials at all.

The website, Doggroomeradvice.com warns that unqualified groomers and stories like Tashi’s are far more common than you may think and that the only way to improve the standards is to demand action from your local and state legislators.

Jayme still feels the pain of Tashi’s loss every day. She believes that if even one dog can be saved as a result, at least his death will not have been in vain.

“I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone,” she said. “So if Tashi’s story can prevent this from happening to anyone else’s dog, that’s all I can hope for.”

The good news is, there are tons of talented, responsible and highly trained professional groomers out there you can trust your dogs with. To make sure you’ve found one and ensure your dog’s safety, iHeartDogs’ resident groomer, Jennifer Nelson recommends asking the following questions:

  • What type of training, certification and licensing do you have?
  • Are you trained in pet CPR and do you know how to react in an emergency?
  • Are you affiliated with a nearby vet in case of emergency?
  • How do you handle difficult dogs?
  • Who else will be handling my dog?
  • What experience do they have?
  • What distractions do you have throughout the day?
  • Where/how will my pet be kept when you are not working on him/her?
  • What safety features do you use? i.e. – Groomer’s Helper Safety Loop with Panic Snap

See Jennifer’s advice for finding the best groomer for you and your dog here.

All Images c/o Jayme Buck

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