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Former Petco groomers will pay a $150 fine after dog dies in dryer cage

Posted at 7:03 AM, Nov 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-17 23:39:08-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- On Tuesday a judge found the two former Petco workers, charged in connection with the death of a golden retriever, guilty. Suzanne Jensen and Rebecca Witherspoon were both charged with one count of inadequate care of an animal, a misdemeanor, following the death of Colby.

The golden retriever was found dead inside a dryer cage at the Westchester Commons Petco store in Chesterfield last May.

The two women will not serve any time. The judge sentenced them to pay a $250 fine, with $100 suspended. They will each pay $150.

Judge Pam O'Berry called the case "preventable" and likened it to "leaving a dog in a car."

Dr. Timothy Withers, a veterinarian, testified that Colby died from being overheated.

Jensen testified that there appeared to be no working AC in the building and that she was overworked.

"It was a Friday, I was by myself," Jensen said.

Colby Petco

"I called in an extra groomer for help," Jensen said.

"We were calling corporate everyday, we were hot in here," Jensen continued.

A Chesterfield Animal Control officer said the cage Colby was placed in was no place for an animal of that size.

"All of that heat is trapped," the officer said.

petco

Colby's body temperature was more than 111 degrees nearly an hour after he died, according to court testimony. He was brought to the veterinarian's office in the back of a pickup truck because Petco's corporate policy is to not tell owners their animal is dead but rather have doctors do it.

Both women were fired from their jobs shortly after Colby's death and California-based Petco took "full responsibility." As a result of Colby's death, Petco promised to retrain all groomers nationwide.

"This is just the start, I'm not done yet," Allison Marks said after court.

When asked if she was considering a lawsuit against Petco she replied; "I don't know yet, but I think it needs to be done."

"I guess the judge had to do something but I really don't think it was criminal on their part them being fired and having a bad name as a groomer for the rest of their life is probably punishment enough," said James Grissom, a current Petco manager.

Grissom said customers are "starting to come back" to the Westchester Commons location adding that "it was just a one-time tragedy."

"While we've confirmed that no heat was used, and is not used in any of our grooming salon dryers, as an additional measure, the type of kennel dryer Colby was housed in has been removed from service in all Petco stores," a Petco spokesman said following the dog's death.

Little remorse

Colby's owner said her family wanted justice for what happened to Colby, who she described as a member of her family. Marks said she "saw little remorse" from Witherspoon and Jensen during previous court hearings. During their last hearing, neither woman wanted to comment on the case.