Fourth case of dogs being badly burned leads RSPCA to call for grooming industry to be licensed

Dog groomers guilty of causing suffering

Fourth case of dogs being badly burned leads RSPCA to call for industry to be licensed

Jaqueline Ward (12/05/68) of Little Bentley, Basildon and Victoria Ellis (16/07/74) of Scott Road, Chadwell St Mary were found guilty on Friday (11 January) of causing unnecessary suffering to a Lhasa Apso dog named Dusty who died after being badly burned by a dog dryer at Ward’s grooming parlour.

This is the fourth case in less than two years of a dog suffering terrible burns at a grooming salon and the RSPCA is calling for licensing of the dog grooming industry.

Ward and Ellis appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court for sentencing after being found guilty in their absence of causing unnecessary suffering under the Animal Welfare Act, after they failed to attend court on previous occasions.  They were both ordered to do 120 hours of community service and fined £1,000 each.  Compensation of £250 was ordered to be paid to the dog’s owner.

The court heard how 12-year-old Dusty was taken to Ward’s former business in Towers Road, Grays, in July 2012 and, after he was bathed and clipped, Ellis left him in a metal dog crate with an industrial dog hairdryer pointing at him.  She went away to answer the phone before returning to find Dusty suffering from burns.

Dusty’s owner was told that he had received a small burn from the dryer and was advised by Ward to put cream on it.  He was taken to the vets, but deteriorated over the next few days and the owner had to make the heartbreaking decision to put him to sleep.

The vet said Dusty was in a state of shock and that most of his sides and body were red, swollen and very warm.  An expert vet said Dusty would have suffered and that the environment was made even more unsuitable as he could not escape from the heat.

Neither Ward nor her employee were qualified dog groomers at the time of the incident.

RSPCA inspector Lewis Taylor said:  “This was a horrific case which could so easily have been prevented had Dusty not been left unattended. Although such cases aren’t deliberate, owners entrust the care of their beloved animals to dog groomers and deserve to know that they are leaving their pet in safe hands.

“Although Ward was not there at the time of the incident, business owners have a duty to ensure that animals do not suffer whilst in the care of their staff.”

This is the fourth case of a dog being burned in a dryer at a grooming parlour.  In October 2011, a seven-year-old cocker spaniel named Trudie suffered burns and internal injuries after being left in a cage fixed to a heater and covered with tarpaulin at a grooming parlour in Leicestershire.  The groomer was conditionally discharged and ordered to pay costs.

In July 2010, two people were given conditional discharges and were ordered to pay costs after two Yorkshire Terriers were left unattended under dryers at a boarding kennel in the Cardiff area and died from burns.

In March 2010, a Hungarian Vizsla was placed in a purpose-built dog-drying cabinet at a dog boarding and training facility in Surrey.  The device had no timer and the dog was found whimpering and collapsed after being left too long.  The dog suffered heat stroke and horrendous burns to the abdomen but amazingly survived his ordeal.  The company was fined and ordered to pay costs.

David Bowles, head of public affairs at the RSPCA, said:  “These cases are all very sad – owners are taking their pets to groomers without the security of knowing how safe their animals are.

“We are calling for the licensing of dog grooming.  Without this, pet owners simply cannot be sure that they are leaving their dog in safety.

“Until we have regulation, it is important that owners thoroughly research their choice of groomer to ensure they can meet their animal’s needs.  Owners should consider visiting the facility first and ensuring that staff are qualified and competent.”

If you would like to help the RSPCA, you can give £3 now by texting HELP to 78866 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).



Notes to editors

In another grooming-related case in 2009, a six-month old Shih-tzu was strangled after being restrained by two dog groomers in Shropshire.  The puppy died after being held up under the chin and having harnesses fixed around its neck and stomach.  The groomers were given conditional discharges and the court said the case was a serious one.

Photographs of Dusty and Trudie are available from the RSPCA press office – please call 0300 123 0244/0288.

Please note that we cannot provide further information on the cases involving the Vizsla and the Yorkshire terriers.