“I just took my dog to get groomed and as I was walking out, this lady comes up to me and said she’s been waiting for an hour to see who’s dog this was. She told me how mean the dog groomer was to my dog,” said Brooke Vowers.
When a college student from Katy, Texas, dropped her dog off at PetSmart for a routine trim and shampoo, she expected everything to be “smooth sailing.”
“I’ve used that dog grooming salon for a couple of years now,” said Vowers. “But I had never seen that particular groomer before. I was in a hurry that morning and didn’t take the time to really introduce myself and speak with the groomer. I really regret not doing that now.”
Brooke went on her way and ran some errands. As a busy college student, she doesn’t have much free time, so she tries to do all her “running around” on the same day.
“I have two jobs and I go to school full-time, so that doesn’t leave a whole bunch of spare hours lying around,” she said.
After picking up a few things at the grocery store and paying her water bill, Brooke returned to PetSmart to pick up her one-year-old Shih Tzu, Luna.
“When I walked in the store, I just had a strange feeling, like something bad was going to happen,” Brooke remembered.
And something bad had happened, but it was going to get a whole lot worse…
“When I picked up Luna, I didn’t speak with the groomer, but I could see her through a glass partition. We made eye contact for just a second and I can remember thinking that she seemed nervous,” Brooke said.
Luna, for her part, seemed a little subdued. The canine was obviously happy to see her momma and take a car ride, but that’s normal for the rescue pup.
“I got Luna from an accidental litter at a shelter. She was the runt and the last to get adopted. We’ve been best friends ever since,” said Brooke.
As she was exiting the store, an animated young woman stopped her outside in the parking lot.
Tara Lieder, who is also a college student, told Brooke that she “had been waiting for over an hour” to speak with her. “I’ve got something bad to tell you,” she said.
“I couldn’t believe what she was telling me,” said Brooke. “I just stood there and listened, but I was in a daze. I wasn’t really hearing what she was saying.”
Tara explained that she was in the store shopping for a new leash for her Great Dane.
“As you can imagine, you need an extra large and PetSmart has the best selection, by far,” said Tara. “But I had bought a bottled water and was just kinda relaxing and watching the dogs get their shampoos and haircuts. That’s when I saw it. I was literally beside myself.”
Tara Lieder, and another woman, both witnessed something horrible…
“It made my blood boil,” recalled Tara.
“We could see into the back through a glass window,” said Tara. “It was partly covered by a curtain, but you could clearly see what was going on.”
The dog groomer was jerking a Shih Tzu’s head and neck around violently while she cut his hair.
“The dog wasn’t even resisting or being difficult. That woman was in a bad mood and she was taking it out on the poor, defenseless dog. She just jerked and pulled and you could tell she was cursing the dog, but we couldn’t hear what she was saying,” said the finance major.
That’s when the woman standing next to Tara had an idea…
“She told me to pull out my phone,” said Tara. “So I just started filming the groomer hurt this dog. What’s crazy is how long it went on for. I actually ended up making several videos because my phone limits their length to two minutes.”
But after awhile, Tara just couldn’t stand to watch the innocent Shih Tzu take any more abuse.
“I’ll admit it. I lost it,” she recalled. “I’ve had dogs all my life and eventually, I’d seen enough.”
So what, exactly, did she do?
“I started banging on the glass and yelling at the dog groomer,” Tara recalled. “I told her, ‘You’re gonna loose your job, you stupid [expletive]. I’ve been recording you.'”
The dog groomer quickly came over to the window and closed the curtain.
“She looked at me like, ‘I’m in charge here and I’ll do what I want to do,'” said Tara. “So, although I was mad, I knew that I had to think clearly. If I kept on causing a scene, they would probably ask me to leave or call the police.”
So Tara Lieder paid for her leash, went outside, and smoked a cigarette.
There, sitting on the curb by her car, she formulated a plan…
“I waited for Brooke to come out of the store with Luna and I stopped her,” said Tara. “I explained who I was, that I wasn’t crazy, and that I had seen something terrible happen to her dog.”
When the straight-A student showed Brooke the video on her iPhone, it all became “too real for her.”
“Like I said, I really couldn’t believe what she was telling me at first,” said Brooke. “But when I saw the video, I immediately started crying and just hugged Tara. I kept telling her, ‘Thank you, thank you for doing this.'”
After Brooke calmed down and Tara smoked another cigarette, the two girls decided on their next course of action…
“We knew we wouldn’t stop until we got that woman arrested,” said Tara.
The girls didn’t waste any time uploading the videos to their social media accounts and enthusiastically sharing the posts. As the video traveled from one user’s page to another, it quickly ballooned into a firestorm of controversy.
“It happened pretty fast,” remembered Brooke. “We were literally on the news like two days later.”
The girls became something like local celebrities and were even asked to appear at an SPCA fundraiser and tell their story.
“One woman stopped me on the street and thanked me for what we had done,” said Brooke. “She had tears in her eyes.”
But what happened to the dog groomer?
For their part in the ordeal, PetSmart took swift and decisive action, firing the groomer immediately.
“This treatment is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the company said in a statement. “The associate is no longer with PetSmart.”
After the video went viral on social media websites, a host of concerned citizens voiced their opinions on the matter.
“This isn’t the first time that this has happened at PetSmart,” one user posted. “This is a pattern of theirs. They will literally hire anyone to groom dogs up there.”
Another user commented, “They should take that woman and do that to her and see how she likes it. I have no sympathy for people who abuse animals. Pathetic.”
But many of the posters wanted to know how little Luna was doing…
According to Vowers, her dog is resting comfortably and doing well. She says that she doesn’t have plans to bring a civil suit against PetSmart.
“I just don’t want this to ever happen to another dog,” she said. “The fact that they fired her makes me happy. She shouldn’t be working with animals if she’s going to act like that. I still shop at that PetSmart and after the manager personally apologized to me, I feel good about it.”
It’s unclear at this time if the dog groomer has been charged with a crime.
What do you think her punishment should be?