Puppy dies after grooming service at California Petco, owner demands answers, action

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- In the Chinese culture, "Dali" means strong, healthy and full of energy. It seemed like a fitting name for Mafang Yao's young Pomeranian pup, who was just six-months-old.

On Nov. 5, Yao took Dali to the Petco location in Santa Clara, California to be groomed.

"When I dropped off Dali, we met another dog and Dali just started chasing the dog," Yao told ABC7 News. "So, he was very active, healthy and hyper when I dropped off Dali."

What should've been a routine wash, dry and nail trim, ultimately turned tragic.

Yao said she returned about an hour later to learn Dali was rushed to Silicon Valley Pet Clinic because of breathing issues.

Medical records provided by Yao show Dali "Came in stressed with panting and lethargic after grooming."

According to Yao, a veterinarian explained x-rays showed fluid in Dali's lungs. The dog didn't survive.

"He was so young, you know," Yao said in a defeated manner. "Just six months, I feel, just the beginning of his life."

Yao explained she questioned Petco, but claimed the company refused to provide detail about what happened during his care.

Yao told ABC7 News in San Francisco that Petco eventually contacted her, telling her their independent investigation was complete and it found Petco did nothing wrong.

"I don't know how they treated him. Did they do something inappropriately," she questioned.

However, she said the company couldn't explain Dali's grooming process.

"What time you dried him, and how you brushed him, and when did you find he had the breathing issue," Yao questioned. "And when did you send him to the hospital? At least you should release that information to me."

In a statement to ABC7 News, Petco said:

"All of us at Petco are heartbroken by the untimely loss of Dali. We take full responsibility for every animal in our care and we have strict policies and standards in place designed to ensure the health and safety of pets.

After a thorough review of Dali's time in our grooming salon as well as his veterinary records, we strongly believe that our groomer acted appropriately throughout the grooming process, but regret that a veterinarian was unable to determine a definitive cause for his passing.

As pet parents ourselves, we understand there is no way to make up for the loss of a pet, but in an effort to help, we have paid for Dali's veterinary expenses and offered to help his family find a new pet when they are ready."


Yao maintains, "You cannot just tell me, 'I cannot release that information to you, but we can tell you we did nothing wrong.'"

She admits she didn't initially want an autopsy.

RELATED: https://abc7chicago.com/pets-animals/puppy-dies-after-grooming-service-at-california-petco/5712735/

"Since he's so small, and when I saw him the last time he was so beautiful. I didn't want to do that to him," Yao said.

Now, it's far too late. Dali has been cremated.

"I wish I did it," she added. "At least it can give me some answer."

So, she's searching for answers in other ways.

Yao reached out to Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (SVACA) and the Better Business Bureau.

ABC7 News has also reached out to SVACA but was told gathering details would take a day.

Yao is pushing for Petco to install more cameras in the grooming area.

She wants transparency for customers.
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