A Dog Died At Petco During A Routine Grooming & Both Petco And Its Owner Are Trying To Figure Out Exactly What Happened

It's every pet owner's absolute worst nightmare. In a heartbreaking ABC News report, a Virginia woman says that her dog, Colby, died after being left in a Petco grooming dryer. After Colby was taken to a local animal clinic, Allison Marks says, a vet explained to her that her golden retriever, Colby, had most likely died of heat stroke as a result of being left in the unit for too long. (Petco has denied that it uses heated dryers.) Though Petco has issued a statement saying it takes "full responsibility" for animals under its care and will launch an investigation into what happened to Colby, Marks is now considering legal action against the retailer.

The full statement from Petco said:

All of us at Petco remain deeply upset by Colby's passing. We have strict protocols in place to ensure the well-being of pets in our grooming salons, and we take it very seriously when those protocols are not followed. The groomers involved have been suspended while we complete a thorough investigation, and we are in contact with the pet parents and coordinating with local Animal Services to understand what happened in this terrible situation.
It's important to know we do not use heated dryers in any Petco grooming salons, and we can confirm there was no heat used in the drying process during Colby's groom, but other details are still being investigated. Our thoughts continue to be with Colby's family at this difficult time.

On Friday morning, Marks dropped 2-year-old Colby off at a local Petco in Midlothian, Virginia, to be groomed. She was told by the staff that Colby would be ready for pickup around noon, but when she hadn't heard from the store by 1 p.m., Marks called to check in. According to Marks, a staff member instructed her to go to a local animal clinic without any further details. She told ABC News:

They didn't even tell me why I had to go there, just that one of the managers would meet me there. I walked into it blind.

She says her beloved pet was lifeless on the vet's table, with his eyes "glazed over," she told ABC News. According to Marks, the Petco assistant manager told her that they had found Colby in one of their dryer units after the groomer who had been working on him left to attend a graduation. Marks added that Colby had always been anxious when visiting the groomers, but was otherwise a healthy and happy dog.

Marks said the vet concluded that Colby had died of a heat stroke and had been dead for at least 45 minutes when staff found him. His temperature was still above 105 degrees when she arrived at the clinic, Marks said.

A devastated Marks told ABC News:

I just started screaming. Colby was my everything.

Now Marks is considering pressing charges against Petco. On Sunday afternoon, Petco released an initial statement in response to Colby's death:

All of us at Petco are heartbroken by Colby’s passing. The health and safety of pets is always our top priority and we take full responsibility for all animals under our care. We are taking immediate action to investigate and understand the situation. Our thoughts are with Colby’s family at this difficult time.

However, after Marks questioned Petco's protocol, telling Virginia's WTVR, "It's not an accident," Petco released its second statement on Monday, insisting that no heat was used in its drying process:

It’s important to know we do not use heated dryers in any Petco grooming salons, and we can confirm there was no heat used in the drying process during Colby’s groom, but other details are still being investigated. Our thoughts continue to be with Colby’s family at this difficult time.

Despite Petco's reassurance, Marks remains adamant in wanting to get "justice" for Colby. Speaking to ABC News, she said she considered Colby her "soul mate" and had welcomed him into her life after her husband passed away in 2011. She told the website:

I feel like I should've done better by him.