Political Animal

Another PetSmart grooming death; rent increase forces out kitten rescue; dog dies with sitter from DogVacay; pit bull saves woman

Hero, a stray pit bull, was stabbed five times while saving a woman from an attacker. Photo:

I received an e-mail from a Pet Page reader regarding yet another grooming death at a chain pet store, this time a PetSmart in Mountain View. As with all of these stories, the dog — a rescue named Bogie — was brought by his owner for a routine grooming.

The vast majority of these cases arise at PetSmart and Petco, where most of the “groomers” are transitory kids working part-time or after-school jobs. The only current requirement in California to become a groomer is a business license. Petco and PetSmart, which operate the majority of “salons” in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry, claim to require minimal training (Petco a 12-week course and PetSmart 400 hours), but that’s a bit like the fox watching the henhouse because there’s no outside oversight. The sheer size of these companies tells me there’s little onsite or corporate supervision, and the alarming number of injuries and deaths corroborates my suspicions.

It boggles my mind that not a single legislator in Sacramento has shown an interest in reviving California Senate Bill 969, also known as Lucy’s Law, which would require vocational licenses for pet groomers (it was defeated in 2012 after fierce opposition from the grooming lobby). I realize Senator Mark Leno is a lame duck busy looking for his next political meal ticket after he’s termed out this November, but I hope his successor (Scott Wiener or Jane Kim) will consider reviving Lucy’s Law once he or she has settled in. …

Speaking of a need for regulation, an Oakland couple, Emily and Christian Pelipada, told NBC Bay Area that their 6-year-old dog, Pippen, died after being left with another dog in a hot car outside a dog park by pet sitters they found using the app DogVacay. The pet sitters, who may face charges, declined to comment to the reporter. DogVacay offered condolences and said the pet sitters have been banned from the app, but that’s little comfort for the Pelipadas. If you’re planning a trip, find your pet sitter through word of mouth, not on an app that, according to its website, allows applicants to complete their profile “in just a few minutes.” DogVacay also claims each host is “hand-approved” by their “specially trained Host Community team.” I have an e-mail in to their press contact to find out what that means. …

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Saving Grace cat rescue, which focuses on special needs felines, is being forced out due to another rent hike, this time to $3,500. Founder Amber Holly told the Chronicle that she doesn’t want to leave, but she doesn’t have a choice. The Bay Area is so expensive that Holly is looking as far away as Oregon.

For six years from a building in Balboa Park, Holly, who graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a degree in zoology, has helped find homes for over 3,000 cats and kittens — some blind, one-eyed, tripod, or abandoned at birth with the umbilical cord still attached. Most Bay Area shelters are aware of Saving Grace, and when they send photos of kittens soon to be put down, they know Holly will take them. If Holly leaves San Francisco, it will take away the safety net for cats and kittens that otherwise wouldn’t stand a chance. If you’d like to help Saving Grace or inquire about adopting, call Amber Holly at 415-407-8021 or e-mail [email protected]. For more information or to make a donation online, visit …

Another Pet Page reader sent me the story of Hero, a stray pit bull that saved a woman from a knife attack in Baldwin, Ga., on July 22. In an interview, police officer Timothy Clay told Tennessee news station WATE that, after separating the woman from her attacker, the dog lunged toward the male suspect, at which point the suspect stabbed the brave pit bull five times. “I couldn’t let that dog suffer and die,” Clay said. “We felt like we needed to get that dog some help after what it had been through.” The officer and his partner took the dog to a local veterinarian, who saved his life.

Carla Welch, who runs Fighting for the Bullys Pit Bull Rescue in Knoxville, Tenn., told WATE that Hero (named for his courageous act) has had a rough life. “He has a bum back leg and a bum front leg, but he gets around fine and he’s looking for a good friend,” she said. Welch’s rescue group raised money to pay for the veterinary treatment and is currently caring for Hero while they search for his forever home. If you’d like more information on Hero, visit

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