Owner forced to put puppy to sleep after collapsing in ‘death trap drying cage’

A Scottish dog owner was left heartbroken after her eight-month-old cockapoo had to be put to sleep following a visit to a dog salon.

Mum-of-one Lisa O’Neill, 37, is still mourning the death of her puppy Harry, who suffered a collapsed intestine shortly after being put in a 'drying cage' at an award-winning grooming salon on May 6, 2021.

Harry was bought in October 2020 for £2,350, and had previously visited the salon in in January, just months before the incident.

However, when during his second visit, Harry was washed and then put in a 'drying cage' where he collapsed.

Lisa rushed to pick him up and took him to her local vets but the next day he was sent to Vets Now Hospital, in Glasgow, before being put to sleep on May 8.

Police officer Lisa, from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, is now campaigning for dog groomers to be regulated, which animal welfare chiefs agree needs to happen.

Lisa said: “I did do a bit of research and the groomer I took him to had 30 years of experience, had won awards, so I had absolutely no qualms about taking him there.

“Being a novice and not knowing about cage dryers I didn’t know to ask the question.

“When I got him back he looked good, he smelled lovely, he was desperate for a drink but I thought that was quite natural after being dried.

“So away we went and I was quite happy to trust them. In May, it was the same scenario – a girl came and took him off me outside. About an hour later, I got a phone call saying Harry had collapsed while being dried.

“At this point, I still had no idea about a drying cage. It wasn’t until she told the vet what had happened they came back to me saying 'he had heatstroke and that these drying boxes are death traps'.

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“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.

“He was taken to Vets Now in Glasgow to try and treat him but unfortunately, the complication that arose from the heatstroke meant his blood wasn’t clotting.

“This was two days after it happened and we were going to get an operation to save him but it couldn’t go ahead because his blood wasn’t clotting due to how severe his heatstroke was.

“I had to go and sit with him while they put him to sleep."

The mum said her pet "suffered horrendously" from heatstroke, "stress and trauma" of the incident before he died.

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She has now launched a petition to get the Scottish Government to act on regulating dog groomers which has gained nearly 3,000 signatures.

Her campaign has now been backed by the SSPCA who have said Harry's death was not clinically attributable to the groomers but backed calls for regulations.

SPCA chief inspector Laura McIntyre said: “In May 2021 we investigated the heart-breaking death of a dog when he fell ill at a groomers shortly after being in a drying cage.

"The dog was taken to a private vet where his condition sadly deteriorated and he was ultimately put to sleep.

"We arranged for a post-mortem to take place, by an external organisation, in order to fully investigate the circumstances.

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"This post-mortem found the dog had not died from heatstroke. A follow-up check was also undertaken by a Scottish SPCA vet.

"Given the clinical view from veterinary experts was that the cause of death was not heatstroke or any other issue attributable to the treatment in the groomers, the investigation was closed.

"Expert opinion from veterinary professionals is crucial to any investigation the Scottish SPCA carries out.

“Dogs should be under constant supervision whilst at a groomers. It can be a stressful situation for some dogs and every step should be taken to ensure they are safe and comfortable at all times.

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"The rapid increase of dog ownership in Scotland has led to a boom in businesses such as groomers.

"Whilst many are reliable, well-trained and care about the welfare of the dogs they groom, the Scottish SPCA backs greater regulation of the industry.

"Owners should do their research, check reviews and try to use a reputable groomer at all times.”

The Scottish government have said introduced a new framework for the licensing of some activities involving animals but are debating on whether to extend this to additional activities, including dog grooming businesses.

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