WSVN — When Russ Neilson returns home these days, it's to an empty house. The collars by the door are the only reminders of his beloved yorkies.

Russ Nelson: “There will never be another Daisy and another Trooper. It's a void that will always be there.”

Last spring, the two dogs were dropped off to be groomed at a local pet salon. Russ says they were left in a drying cage too long, and the hot air literally burned them to death.

Russ Nelson: “To walk in and see an animal that burned — I mean, it's something you will obviously never forget.”

Injuries and fatalities at dog groomers are on the rise, with complaints to the Better Business Bureau up 50 percent in the last five years.

Andrea Burns: “It's just a shame and the state really has to do something about it.”

The stories are tragic:

A Connecticut pekingese was strangled to death after falling off a groomer's table.

In Georgia, a groomer broke this shitzu's tail. It had to be amputated.

In West Virginia, this poodle mix was left alone with larger dogs and was mauled to death.

And in Londonderry, N.H., Lucky injured his paw when a groomer dropped him. After $4,000 in surgery he still may never walk on four paws again.

Kathleen Costello: “It's heartbreaking. I bring the other two dogs for a walk, and I can't bring him.”

The problem is, unlike barbers and hairdressers, dog groomers are not required to be licensed or even trained before going into business.

Kathleen Costello: “You can just buy a pair of clippers and open up your own shop and start doing it. And that's a shame.”

And there's no one to inspect them.

Brad Mitchell: “Unless there's a complaint, or we just happen to drive by and notice a problem, we wouldn't go in there.”

The Humane Society is hoping that states will enact new rules to govern groomers — but, until then, they say it's up to the dog owner.

Stephanie Hagopian: “It's important that people ensure they're doing that, policing on their own, because regulations are so loose.”

Before dropping off your dog, inspect the facilities, ask about safety measures they have in place, and find out if the groomer has gone to school.

Kathleen Costello: “You really want to make sure the groomer has proper training.”

Russ now believes he should have checked out his groomer more carefully before dropping off his dogs and urges others to not make the same mistake.

Russ Nelson: “I would never ever have a dog groomed again if I couldn't see what's behind that closed door.”


National Dog Groomer's Association

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