A concerned viewer contacted ABC11 about the image, and sister station WWAY reports that the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit has already spoken with the owner of the business, Olga Littleton, who appears in the photo.
Littleton told WWAY the photo was taken several years ago and the dog was tied up (while wearing a harness) by a worker who was immediately reprimanded. She says that same employee was fired a few days ago and posted the photo as revenge. All parties insist the dog is fine.
On Facebook, where the image has been shared hundreds of times, outraged commenters say regardless of the circumstances, the photo shows an alarming lack of concern for the dog's welfare. An online petition to shut down the dog spa had received more than 5,000 signatures by Wednesday afternoon. The New Hanover sheriff's office has launched an investigation.