A 38-year-old San Francisco man has been arrested on charges of felony animal cruelty after a 1-year-old Dachshund died in his care at a California PetSmart. Juan Zarate was working as a groomer at the retailer’s San Mateo location where he was supposed to groom a tiny dog named Henry.
According to Henry’s owner, an as-yet-unidentified 47-year-old man, just three minutes after turning Henry over to Zarate, the groomer walked out of his office, claiming that the dog was suffering from a medical emergency. Henry was bleeding from his mouth and struggling to breathe. Despite the efforts of PetSmart’s on-site veterinarian, the dog died within a few minutes.
The San Mateo Police Department launched an investigation, and determined that Zarate’s “deliberate actions” likely contributed to the dog’s death. Although a necropsy has not yet been completed — and the dog’s cause of death has not been determined — Henry did suffer two broken ribs and a punctured lung during his brief time with the now-suspended PetSmart groomer.
“This is a tragic case of animal cruelty and thus, led to decisive action in the arrest of the alleged offender,” the San Mateo Police Department said in a statement. “As you know the pets in our community can’t speak for themselves, so its inherent on all of us to be alert to the signs and symptoms of animal cruelty and neglect.”
— San Mateo News (@sanmateo_news) May 17, 2016
PetSmart, which recently came under fire for its dog boarding practices after a small dog was attacked and killed by larger dogs, also expressed its concern and sympathy in a statement.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of Henry,” PetSmart spokesperson Michelle Friedman told the Los Angeles Times. “Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pets, and we take full responsibility for the pets in our care […] No words can express our deep sorrow for the family, and we will continue to work with the pet parent during this difficult time.”
According to the Times, Zarate has posted bail and will be in court on June 23.