South Florida pet owners say their animals were injured during appointments with the same mobile grooming business. Lawsuits have been filed, and a police department is investigating. 7’s Karen Hensel has tonight’s special assignment report, “Grooming Grief.”
Karma was just six months old and fighting for her life.
Dquaan Charles, pet owner: “I was, like, shocked, devastated. I think it’s abuse, neglect, everything.”
Earlier that day, her owner, Dquaan Charles, hired a mobile groomer to give her a bath and trim her nails.
But after, she was carried back, limp.
Doorbell video was rolling as Dquaan spoke to the business and police.
Dquaan Charles, Ring doorbell video: “Like, why is there blood coming out of her nose?”
In her last moments at home, Karma can be heard whimpering.
Dquaan brought her to his vet and then to the animal hospital.
Animal hospital video: “She’s not breathing. I’m so sorry, mama. I’m so sorry.”
A doctor wrote karma suffered “respiratory distress…” which the vet said was due to “…strangulation, near drowning, upper airway obstruction, electrocution…” or “…prolonged seizure.”
Dquaan had to euthanize Karma.
Another dog was left whimpering in February after her owner Lisette Siple, hired the same mobile grooming business, Maryeli’s Lovely Pets.
Lisette Siple: “She takes Sasha, and 15 minutes after, I hear the doorbell ring. She goes, ‘I think she caught a cramp. I think she caught a cramp.’”
Vet records show that cramp was actually a dislocated hip.
Lisette Siple: “I told her, ‘I gave you my dog in perfect shape. You gave her back to me – my dog is going to need surgery.’”
The groomer disagreed, saying when she touched the dog’s foot, it yelped in pain, and she did not hurt Sasha.
The vet bills for the Pomeranian were more than $5,000.
Lisette and Dquaan both filed reports with Coral Springs Police.
Lisette is also suing Maryeli’s Lovely Pets. It’s one of three lawsuits against the business.
All three claimed negligence. All three asked for payment of large vet bills.
In one complaint, an 8-year-old golden doodle could “not stand or walk” after a grooming in 2020.
Another lawsuit filed by the owner of a Rottweiler says the dog suffered a fractured leg after grooming.
Yet another owner reported Maryeli’s Lovely Pets to the Broward County Consumer Protection Division after her 8-year-old dog was cut so badly during grooming she required four staples.
We tried repeatedly to talk to the owner of Maryeli’s Lovely Pets.
Karen Hensel: “I’m Karen Hensel with 7News.”
She never responded, but the company’s attorney agreed to an interview.
Brody Shulman, attorney: “It’s very easy to shine the light on issues that occur not only to Lovely Pets, that occur across many, many groomers, whether they’re big or small. You also have to take a look at the number of pets, the number of owners that have walked away happy as well.”
Brody Shulman says the man who bathed Karma has groomed more than 500 pets without issue.
He believes the American bulldog puppy had a seizure.
Brody Shulman: “It’s my contention that nothing happened in the truck to have caused this.”
So who oversees pet groomers? Turns out, no one. Unlike a barber or a manicurist, pet groomers are not required to be licensed in Florida. Not only that, they don’t have to have any testing, schooling, or even training, which is something some groomers want to change.
Wendy Booth, National Dog Groomer Association of America: “If we were all licensed, our standards would absolutely come up.”
Wendy Booth has been a dog groomer for more than 40 years. She’s with the National Dog Groomers Association of America, and she believes some government oversight on groomers would help when there are complaints.
Wendy Booth: “It sure would be nice if every state had an agency they could report these issues to.”
But until that happens, it’s up to local police to make the call.
Other groomers have been charged with crimes. A Central Florida groomer pleaded no contest to animal cruelty after pulling and twisting a German shepherd’s tail so hard, it had to be amputated.
The groomer was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years probation.
Meanwhile, Coral Springs police say they are still investigating complaints about the local grooming business.
Dquaan Charles: “She was just a part of the family now, and it hurt when she left.”
The Florida Attorney General’s Office has some tips on what to do before hiring a pet groomer:
Seek references from trusted friends or colleagues.
Check with the Better Business Bureau at BBB.org to see whether the business has complaints against it.
Ask the groomer how long they have been grooming and if they can provide a list of clients to contact as references.
Be clear about expectations, particularly if seeking a specific cut or style.
Understand what is covered in the cost of service. For example, is a nail trim a separate charge or included in any grooming service?
If leaving the pet at the groomer’s, inquire how the pet will be kenneled and cared for between drop-off and pick-up and ask to inspect the facilities.
Inquire whether the groomer has an emergency plan if a pet is injured and whether they have insurance coverage for such incidents.