Four former employees from the East Liberty area of Pittsburg face felony animal cruelty charges in connection with the death of a toy poodle in November 2020.
According to Channel7News, Heather Rowe and Shaphan Stonge face two counts of neglect of animals and a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals. Julie Miller and Elizabeth Doty have been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals, animal neglect and two felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.
AJ Ross, the owner of the tiny poodle named Kobe, had taken her 12-year-old dog to PetSmart on November 17 to have his nails trimmed. Because of Covid-19 distancing restrictions, she was not allowed to stay in the grooming area while the groomers worked. While waiting for her dog, Ross went next door for a few minutes and returned to the store when she heard a manager being paged to go to the grooming area.
Moments later, Ross went to the back of the store and found her dog lifeless on the grooming table. The groomers told her Kobe had just collapsed, and Ross picked up Kobe and rushed him to a veterinarian hospital where they tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful.
Ross ordered a necropsy as well as the surveillance footage from inside of the grooming area where she was able to observe how Kobe’s neck had been tethered in two opposing positions and pulled in opposite directions. The helpless dog could be seen struggling to get loose, and at one point he was suspended in the air by the tethers.
According to court documents, Dr. Arielle Samson of Humane Animal Rescue, found the dog’s neck had been hyperextended along with his paws off the table resulting in his airway having been crushed.
PetSmart launched an internal investigation and unintended failure to adhere to the pet safety processes. The employees have since been fired.
Rest in peace Kobe.