Death trap vet warning as puppy dies after groomers lock him in drying cage

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A cockapoo puppy was put down after collapsing at a grooming salon, where he had been put into a “drying cage”.

Now Harry’s devastated owner, mum-of-one Lisa O’Neill, is calling for more regulation of the grooming industry, even though the post-mortem investigation found that the puppy’s death was not clinically attributable to the salon.

The eight-month-old pooch suffered a collapsed intestine shortly after he was put into the cage, which is designed to dry dogs’ coats by working like a hairdryer.

Police officer Lisa, 37, bought Harry for £2,350 in October 2020, and had taken him to the Scottish salon once previously in February last year.

She said the first time he came out, he smelt lovely but was “desperate for a drink”, which she thought was normal for a dog that had just been dried.

But on May 6, after Harry returned to the salon, she got a call to say he had collapsed.

Lisa, from Kilmarnock, took him to a vets, and the following day he was taken to a Glasgow animal hospital. But he couldn’t be saved, and he was put down on May 8.

A post-mortem examination found that Harry did not have heatstroke and his death was not clinically attributable to the grooming salon. But the Scottish Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has backed Lisa’s calls for more regulation of the industry.

At the moment, groomers don’t have to be qualified, and there is no obligation to inform customers if their pets will be put into a drying cage. And although salons are subject to the general law around negligence, there is no law relating specifically to the sector.

‘‘It wasn’t until I told the vet what had happened they came back to me saying he had heatstroke and that these drying boxes are death traps,” said Lisa.

“It turns out he had been put in a heated drying box and the timer was set for 30 minutes.

“Being an excitable puppy, he didn’t like being locked in anywhere, so being locked in a drying box he would have jumped about the whole time.”

She claimed that Harry died due to a complication from stress and overheating which stopped his blood from clotting properly.

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“He had suffered horrendously before he was put to sleep,” Lisa said.

“He had intussusception due to the stress and trauma of being locked in the box. The specialist said everything he’d suffered from, the heatstroke and the stress had caused an intussusception – where intestines go into themselves.

“I can discuss it now without breaking down but it’s taken a while for that to happen.”

Lisa has launched a petition to get the Scottish government to act on regulating dog groomers, and it has gained nearly 3,000 signatures.

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