A 1-year-old Dachshund died following a grooming session at a California PetSmart, according to the San Mateo Police Department. The groomer, 38-year-old Juan Zarate of San Francisco, was arrested following the death and booked for felony animal cruelty.
On Sunday, the dog was dropped off to be groomed by his owner, the police department said in a press release. About three minutes later, Zarate came out of the grooming office holding the dog and told the pup’s 47-year-old owner that the canine was suffering a medical emergency.
“The dog was visibly bleeding from the mouth and having trouble breathing,” the press release says.
Zarate took the dog, reportedly named Henry, to the on-site veterinarian who took emergency measures to try and save the canine, recognizing immediately that the pup was struggling to breathe. Despite the vet’s efforts, the animal died just a few minutes later, the release said.
An X-ray determined the canine had suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung. An investigation by the officers determined that deliberate actions committed by Zarate likely contributed to the animal’s death, the release said. Zarate was arrested at the scene and booked for felony animal cruelty.
The Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA took custody of the dog’s body and will conduct a necropsy in the coming days to ascertain the specific cause of death, police said.
“This is a tragic case of animal cruelty and thus, led to decisive action in the arrest of the alleged offender,” reads a message to the community at the end of the press release. “As you know the pets in our community can’t speak for themselves, so its inherent on all of us to be alert to the signs and symptoms of animal cruelty and neglect.”
Zarate was suspended from his job at PetSmart while the pet supply chain conducts an internal investigation into the incident, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of Henry,” PetSmart spokeswoman Michelle Friedman told the Times. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pets, and we take full responsibility for the pets in our care.”
Meanwhile, the dog’s regular groomer told NBC she was stunned that such an even-tempered dog could die during a grooming session.
“He was always submissive, always in a happy mood. … I’m just devastated,” said Adeline Martinez, holding Henry’s sister during the interview. Martinez had a scheduling conflict with Henry’s owner and couldn’t see the dog on Sunday, she said.
According to the Times, Zarate, who is scheduled to return to court on June 23, posted bond and was released from custody on Monday night.