Justice for Dog That Died During Grooming Session

dachshund by Raven Underwood

Target: Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo District Attorney

Goal: Punish man who allegedly killed a dog during its grooming session.

The owner of Henry, a small dachshund, never expected that his dog would not survive a grooming session at PetSmart. A few minutes into the grooming, the dog started bleeding from the mouth and quickly died, with x-rays showing significant and unnatural injuries. The groomer is under suspicion of intentionally killing the dog. Even if the death was not intentional, the dog died under the groomer’s supervision, and the groomer should face the consequences.

When Henry was dropped off at PetSmart, Juan Zarate was put in charge of grooming him. However, three minutes into the grooming session, Zarate came out holding the dog and said that he was suffering a medical emergency. The small dog was bleeding from the mouth and had trouble breathing. An on-site veterinarian tried to provide emergency measures, but the life quickly drained from the tiny dachshund.

The police determined that Zarate had deliberately harmed the dog, for an x-ray showed that the dog had two broken ribs and a punctured lung. Henry was only a year old, and had shown no sign of medical problems before the grooming session.

Whether or not Zarate intentionally killed the dog does not matter, for he did not take care to prevent the dog from dying while in his custody. This man needs to be appropriately punished for the death of the innocent dachshund.


Dear Attorney Wagstaffe,

Henry, a small, one year-old dachshund, died while in the care or Juan Zarate, a groomer at PetSmart. Only three minutes into the grooming session, Zarate said that the dog was experiencing a medical emergency. The dog was bleeding from its mouth and having trouble breathing, and even though there was a veterinarian available to perform emergency procedures, Henry quickly died.

X-rays showed that the dog had two broken ribs and a punctured lung, which is not something that often occurs naturally. The dog also displayed no health problems before the grooming session, and did not suffer from old age. Police determined that Zarate had deliberately harmed the dog; however, even if it was all an accident, Zarate did not take care to prevent the dog from getting hurt.

Pet owners should not have to fear that their pets will not survive a supposedly harmless grooming session. Punish Juan Zarate for his negligence and failure to keep a dog safe while in his care.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Raven Underwood

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  1. Benedetta Machado says:

    My only concern with this is knowing his side of the story. Isn’t it possible that the owner hurt the dog and tried to blame Petsmart for the injuries? It’s kind of odd that a groomer would do this so soon into the session. And aren’t there others around? I just think I’d have to know what actually happened first. And was there ever trouble with Juan in the past.

    • Terri Marcovecchio says:

      News reports stated that the dog had no existing medical conditions or injuries when he was put in the groomer’s care. It’s highly unlikely the groomer is innocent in this incident. If it had been my dog that died, Zarate wouldn’t have made it to the safety of a jail cell.

  2. Attorney Wagstaffe: Juan Zarate deserves prosecution for his mishandling of Henry. The dog had no injuries when he was dropped off at Petsmart for grooming, but had broken ribs and a punctured lung when he died? One does not incur these types of injuries from a dog grooming session. Please do your job and prosecute this guy!


  4. This is just one of many times I have heard stories about Pet Smart Groomers. I will never take my dogs there ever again as they will only groom them AFTER they have bathed them. I repeatedly ask they not bathe one of mine as he was prone to ear infections. Did they listen? NO. Not only did he get an ear infection but both my little dogs became so frightened they would cry & shake horribly whenever we even came near a Pet Smart.

  5. Terri Marcovecchio says:

    This is so tragic and incomprehensible. There must be some strict laws put into place to screen anyone who handles another person’s animal – particularly when the pet parent is not their to monitor what’s going on. PetSmart and other chain pet retail stores also need to pay better wages. Maybe they would have more reputable people applying for these positions. This isn’t to say a person being paid well won’t be irresponsible or cruel; however, when you pay people minimum wage to do a job, some don’t care about doing it with care.

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