A New Jersey family said they took their healthy dog to the groomer where he fell sick — and by the end of the day, their beloved pet was dead. Now they're desperate to find out what could have happened.
The 5-year-old pup named Samson was dropped off at Glamour paws in Mahwah by Jennifer Laddy on Thursday. The family had questioned the owner beforehand, asking him if he would be able to handle the 180-pound Newfoundland.
Laddy said the owner assured her it wouldn't be a problem. But when she went to pick up Samson, as well as their other dog, the large canine was lying behind a desk, barely moving.
"I saw he had red eyes and red gums," Laddy said. "He tried to get up and his legs collapsed beneath him. The owner said 'Oh, the floors are slippery here,' and then he said (Samson) is just hot anyway, he's fine. And I said no, something's not right."
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She and her husband, Stephen, immediately took Samson to the veterinarian, who told them the dog had heat stroke and his temperature was over 109 degrees.
The devastating news came later.
"The gave us a five percent chance of Samson making it and even then they didn't know what kind of brain function he would have," Stephen said. " So we ultimately made the decision to let him go."
The Laddy family said they have yet to hear from Glamour Paws, and it's their belief that the groomer may have dried him under excessive heat.
"Evidently there are these cages with dyers attached. We suspect they had him in one of these cages. He's a big dog, we suspect they overheated him," said Jennifer.
VCA Ho-Ho-Kus Animal Hospital said it can't comment about its patients, but referred NBC New York to their online article on heat stroke in pets — which states that body temperatures above 106 degrees for animals are most commonly associated with exposure to excessive external or environment heat.
Repeated efforts by NBC New York to contact the groomer in person and by phone when unanswered, even though the business appeared to still remain open.
Rosemary Marchetto — the sponsor behind Bijou's law, which she crafted eight years ago after her dog never came home from a routine grooming — said that Laddy's are the second family who has lost a dog at a New Jersey grooming business over the last week.
"This is a story I hear all the time. I get calls from all over the country," Marchetto said.
She said it's her goal to allow pet groomers to become state licensed, something that doesn't exist in any state currently.
"There's nothing, no oversight on the state level," Marchetto said. "Your dog dies, I'm sorry — if you get that."
The bill would also outlaw heating cages, but it has sat in limbo in the state legislature for nearly a decade. Marchetto and families like the Laddy's are hoping something will change before another family suffers a loss like theirs.
"They could have done something, they should have called the vet car immediately because if they did, perhaps our own dog would still be with us," said Laddy.