PETCO Facing Questions after Golden Retriever Death

Sometimes, when an employee makes a mistake, that employee pays a price, and the world moves on. However, sometimes that mistake has ripples that create a PR crisis for the entire company. It seems that’s exactly what happened when some Petco employees were identified as having been involved in the death of a two-year-old golden retriever named Colby.

When it comes to dogs, there may not be another breed in America that elicits the universal love and affection of the honey-colored retrievers. Look around at pet products, and it’s almost a given that golden retriever puppies are somewhere on the packaging or in the commercials. When one is mistreated, the reaction is visceral and immediate.

Recently, Colby’s owner had taken the dog in for a grooming appointment. After the session, Colby was placed in a kennel with a “kennel dryer machine,” a relatively common practice. Unfortunately in this situation, Colby was later found dead, a victim of heat stroke caused by the dryer. Horrible…but it gets worse. Petco has chosen to place all the blame for the incident on the workers involved.

Initially, Petco insisted in media releases that “no heat was used and is not used in any of our grooming salons.” Further, the company said, “animal care protocols were not followed … Petco is using this incident to reinforce our standard of care and will be conducting nationwide training sessions.”

While the release also stated that Petco took “full responsibility for what happened and remained heartbroken over Colby’s untimely passing…” the response was received with little enthusiasm. Stating heaters were not used in an event where an animal suffered fatal heat stroke due to what many reports have said is the common practice of using heaters comes across as both incongruous and inconsistent.

Also, that bit about “training” falls flat. If a few rogue employees broke with protocol, why the sudden need to train everyone. Haven’t they already been properly trained NOT to use this equipment. And, if not, why? Whose fault is that?
Those are the questions the consumer public is already beginning to ask, and worse – and less polite – questions will likely follow.

Colby’s grieving owner already stated she has plans to file a lawsuit. So, if Petco’s “clear the decks” response was meant to make the situation go away quickly, it failed. Instead of dealing first and foremost with the aggrieved party while also reassuring a badly shaken consumer public, Petco threw a few employees under the bus, leaving horrified pet owners with much to bark about.