CEDAR HILL, TX (KTVT/CNN) - The heartbroken family of a Yorkshire terrier from Texas is warning people about taking their pets to PetSmart after their dog died hours after a grooming.
Tim Daffin picked up his 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier Teddy after what should have been a routine Monday evening grooming at a Cedar Hill, TX, PetSmart.
"I'd say, 'Go get 'em, Teddy,' and he'd just start barking and run outside. And I'd laugh, and I would always tell my wife, 'That's my big dog. That's my guard dog.' She's like, 'Teddy ain't gonna guard nobody,'" he said.
Daffin says the family's beloved dog had been in good health, but when he got Teddy from PetSmart, the dog seemed unusually subdued and even weak.
"In the process of bringing him home, I could hear him kind of like [imitating heavy breathing], and I was like, 'Are you having trouble breathing?'" Daffin said.
A couple of hours later, Teddy was dead.
Daffin says the toughest part of the incident was telling his teenage daughter.
"Just to see her tear up caused me to tear up. Now, being here throughout the day sometimes and looking in that corner that he used to sit in, it's like, there's nothing there. It's empty," he said.
Daffin says PetSmart staffers who handled Teddy's grooming could provide no explanation for the sudden death, telling him the dog seemed fine. No medical or health concerns were noted on the grooming report.
Daffin and his wife later went online and learned other PetSmart customers around the country had reported similar unexplained deaths following groomings.
A 9-month investigation by NJ Advance Media, published Sept. 20, documented 47 cases across 14 states since 2008 in which families claim they took their dog to PetSmart for a grooming, only for the pet to die during or shortly after the visit.
"I would like to tell anybody that may be taking their dogs up there just to be mindful because I didn't know. Something is absolutely wrong," Daffin said.
Prior to the investigation's publication, PetSmart released a statement that said, in part, "nothing is more important than the safety of the pets in our care."
"Any assertion that there is a systemic problem is false and fabricated," the statement said.
The company announced changes to their grooming salons in February 2018 in order to "provide pets with an even safer and more enjoyable experience." It also commissioned an independent assessment of its grooming and training standards, which it said would be completed in the fall.