A family is still grieving after their dog Piper died while she was being groomed.
The groomer said it was an accident, but that doesn’t help the family’s pain.
Now, the family is suing Alexis Anderson, the owner of Bow Wow Boutique, a mobile grooming service they had previously used to groom Piper, a 4-pound toy poodle.
Piper was tiny but held a huge place in the hearts of the Dion family.
“She went everywhere with us,” said Katherine Dion. “There was nowhere that we went that Piper didn’t go.”
In September, the family hired Bow Wow Boutique to visit their home to groom Piper.
But less than 10 minutes after Piper was taken out of their house and into the mobile grooming unit parked outside, tragedy struck.
“She came back in the door with Piper and Piper’s neck was broken,” Dion said.
In its lawsuit, the family quotes the groomer as saying “Piper fell off the table.”
“I loved her,” Dion said. “I still cry daily over the fact that she’s gone.”
“I thought she was a very well-qualified groomer because she portrayed herself that way to me. However I know now, she has absolutely no schooling,” Dion said.
According to local law, no groomer requires a pet grooming education, a fact that doesn’t sit well with the Gulf Coast Humane Society Executive Director Gary Willoughby.
“It’s a little bit of the wild, wild west sometimes with working with animals,” Willoughby said.
Groomers can obtain certifications from specialized pet grooming schools but Gulf Coast Humane Society confirms groomers are not required to get formal training of any kind.
“Those of us who work in this field would love to see stricter laws, more punitive laws to prevent these types of things from happening,” Willougby said.
Dion said otherwise anyone can go out and say they are a dog groomer.
WINK News reached out to Bow Wow Boutique owner Alexis Anderson and the groomer who was with Piper when she died but did not hear back.
“That unexpected loss of life is really hard to get past. We don’t want to ever forget that, and we want to try to do better,” Willoughby said.
The Dion family is still shocked about Piper’s death but wants to prevent this from happening to other families. Dion said she advises people to ask about qualifications and for proof of pet-grooming experience.
“There is no amount of money that you could pay me that would replace her,” Dion said. “I can’t get her back.”
Willougby said he hopes the company makes changes.
“Hopefully that company, if they even deserve to be in business, will try to make improvements so that it doesn’t happen again. Put in more safety measures,” he said.
In Florida, pets are still considered “property,” so pet owners can only sue for the replacement cost of a pet.