Novato, California

To summarize the past few months please see the email below that I wrote to Petco in March. I have yet to receive a response from them. My mom has been writing back and forth to the insurance agent that Petco assigned and I feel that I’m just getting the run around. How does a $50 grooming bill turn into an almost $7,000 bill?

March 20, 2014

Dear Petco,

I am the proud owner and mother of a 7 year-old Shih Tzu named Joey. I’m writing to you today because I am deeply saddened, shocked and outraged over my dog’s poor treatment at your Petco Grooming Department located in Novato, California, on Tuesday, January 28, 2014, and the negligence by one of your groomer’s and Petco’s failure to report the incident to my mother (and I the owner).

I’m writing to you today as the voice of Joey; and since he cannot talk, I will.

Who is Joey? Let me tell you all about him. Joey was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 2006. I fell in love with him the minute we first met, and I’ve been in love with him every day of his life ever since. He’s a rare dog, one who wags his tail more often than not, and brings joy to the many people and animals he meets. My family, friends and neighbors all adore Joey because his heart is larger than life and because of his unconditional love for all, which in result, is infectious. The past 7 years of Joey’s life have been nothing but happy, healthy, and full of love. Joey is my best-friend. The entire staff at _ Veterinary Hospital loves Joey (almost as much as I do) as he has been under their excellent care for the past 7 years for his yearly check-ups and immunizations. Joey has been in perfect health all his life, with an occasional ear infection here and there. For the past 7 years, Joey enjoyed long walks and loves running around the backyard at parents’ house. Joey can’t imagine life without physical activity as he’s been an active dog his entire life.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, my mother dropped off Joey to be groomed at the Petco located in Novato, California. I asked my retired mother to take him to the appointment for me since I’m an elementary school teacher and couldn’t leave in the middle of a school day to bring him. Joey has been groomed numerous times by this Petco Grooming Department and I have had no problem taking him there in the past. That was until his last grooming.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, she received a voicemail stating that Joey was done being groomed and could be picked up. There was no mention of any injury. When my mother arrived shortly after to pickup Joey, she was in utter shock when an employee handed Joey to her and stated, “Joey’s groomer is at lunch.” As my mother put Joey down on the floor in that room, she quickly observed that Joey was not putting any weight on his back right paw, and she exclaimed, “He can’t walk! He can’t walk!” The employee looked at my mother dumbfounded because she didn’t groom Joey. She then proceeded to call the Assistant Manager on duty. My mom said to the Assistant Manager, “He can’t walk.” The Assistant Manager pulled my mom out to another room to talk to her. He proceeded to tell my mother that “Joey never cried” and “I’ve investigated and we don’t know what happened.” She stated that she brought in a healthy active dog who was “running in circles” when she left him off. And now he is unable to walk. My mom asked, “I can’t understand, what happened?” The Assistant Manager went into a back room to speak to Amanda. When Amanda came out of the back room, my mom asked Amanda what happened. Amanda stated, “Nothing.” My mom stated, “Something must have happened.” Amanda stated, “Joey didn’t want to stand up when I was grooming him. I had to pull his legs out,” as Amanda was speaking she attempted to demonstrate this as she was lifting Joey’s dangling leg, while my mother intercepted and shouted for Amanda to “Stop! That’s already injured!” Amanda was attempting to manipulate the same leg that was visibly inured. My mom filed the incident with the Novato Petco Assistant Manager on duty that day. He claimed that he filed an incident report with the company. My mother told him that Joey needs to be seen by our Veterinarian immediately and the Assistant Manager wrote on paper that Petco will take care of the vet visit.

The rest of Tuesday, January 28, 2014, was filled with numerous emergency Veterinarian appointments, as this was no laughing matter. Although my mother is a Registered Nurse, when I arrived to meet my mom at Joey’s appointment (that followed immediately after the injury at Petco) it was apparent to any visible eye that something traumatic had occurred during Joey’s grooming at Petco as I witnessed and watched in horror Joey’s right leg just dangling. He couldn’t walk. He wouldn’t wag his tail. I could see the pain in his eyes as he would barely look at me. I knew something went terribly wrong at Petco. Our beloved Veterinarian at our local Veterinary Hospital referred us to the Emergency Clinic where Joey had to be sedated and undergo a Closed Hip Reduction. The weeks that followed were heartbreaking as Joey had to be carried everywhere, he couldn’t walk, and he was on strict closed cage restriction. Joey had to take medicine around the clock. None of us could predict the future. Joey’s personality had completely disappeared. His energy was gone. All I kept thinking was, “This can’t be the same dog.” Words cannot describe how I felt during all of the countless hours I spent curled up next to Joey’s cage, unable to pick him up, watching his heavy breathing from all of the medicine and all the while wondering how someone could do this to my dog. I cried next to and with Joey and prayed to God that Joey would heal.

Joey’s Closed Hip Reduction was not successful, and our trusted Veterinarian referred Joey to a specialist. Per the owner of the clinic's recommendation, and under Dr.'s care he performed the FHO, Femoral Head Ostectomy. After examining Joey throughout his surgery and reviewing Joey’s X-rays, Dr. stated Joey’s traumatic injury had to be more than pulling the leg at the groomers. Joey showed no signs of Osteoporosis and he said that his hip sockets looked fine. After Joey’s FHO, Dr. was very explicit, when he stated that Joey had a traumatic injury at the groomers and he believes Joey fell off of the table. It’s now been several weeks since the surgery, and Joey is still recovering from this painful ordeal and has not yet made a full recovery. Joey is not yet able to run and he needs to do physical therapy exercises daily so that the false joint can form.

Joey wants to know, how can Petco allow this to happen? Joey put his love and his trust in Petco, and in the people that were supposed to take good care of him.

“Something extraordinary happens when pets and people connect. A unique bond is formed that results in something powerful, not only between pets and people, but in a way that makes the world a better place. Our promise is to nurture that relationship completely–mind and body” (Petco website). Joey and I agree with this statement 100% because we have that bond and it’s an unbreakable promise.

“At Petco, we are committed to best helping pet parents give their pets the quality of life they deserve. This can only be achieved through the honest and ethical efforts of our associates. The Petco Code of Ethics serves as an important guide to inform all Petco associates of their moral, ethical and legal obligations” (Petco Code of Ethics). On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, your company and employers did not honor or follow the Petco Code of Ethics because of the negligence by one of your groomer’s and Petco’s failure to report the incident to my mother (and I the owner). Joey and I put our trust in Petco. Joey thought he was just getting a haircut, and he wants to know, why did he leave with a haircut and a dislocated hip and the loss of many of his favorite activities?

Now, I’ve read aloud Petco’s “Code of Ethics” to Joey several times and we realized that we have similar visions. A statement to Petco Associates reads, “As we pursue our Vision—Healthier Pets. Happier People. Better World.®—we foster a culture in which our behaviors are guided by seven core values: Integrity, Teamwork, Learning, Fun, Continuous Improvement, Recognition and Results. Integrity is first on the list for a reason: Taking the right actions and making good decisions are paramount for us to accomplish our goals” (Petco Code of Ethics). I share the same code of ethics! I have the same morals, and instill these values in my classroom. My students know to do the right thing even when nobody is watching, and to always tell the truth, even if it means you may get in trouble. Even seven year olds understand that there are consequences in school and in life for breaking the rules, being dishonest and hurting others. I teach my students that everyone makes mistakes (even teachers) and that nobody is perfect.

Quite frankly, I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough visits to Veterinarians the past few months, enough sleepless nights and tears shed because of Joey’s injury at Petco Grooming; I’ve had enough. The bills for the care of Joey have mounted. Since Joey’s grooming incident at Petco on January 28, 2014, the medical costs for Joey’s care have totaled to $6,932.61. Joey would like to know how a $50.00 grooming fee ended up being a $6,932.61 fee?

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”

― John Grogan, Marley & Me

These past few months since Joey’s injury, I’ve continually read this quote. Joey makes me feel extraordinary. He is my best-friend and I’m taking the stand for Joey because when he looks at me, and stares me in the eye, he trusts that I will remain loyal and true to him, through thick and thin, because I am the person my pet thinks I am, Petco. And if you are the company that loves and respects animals, and sticks to their Code of Ethics, than I trust you will do the right thing, live with integrity, and stand up with Joey.

I’m writing this to you as the voice of Joey; and since he cannot talk, I did and I will continue to. I want answers so that I can honestly look Joey in the eye and assure him that this had to have been a tragic accident at the Petco Grooming Department, tell him that it was not intentional and assure him that this will not ever happen again. We want to believe that Petco employees will not only preach the Code of Ethics, but to live by them every single day. Joey doesn’t want other pets to go through the pain and suffering that he has, or the prospect of never fully recovering. The recovery road ahead for him is going to be long, and I know he may never ever be the same dog again, and run like he used to, but I’m blessed to be his owner, and I believe he’s got many more wonderful years ahead of him.

Yes, Petco, at the end of the day, I can look proudly in the mirror and go to sleep at night feeling confident and assured that I am the person my pet thinks I am. The same values that I teach my students are the values that I live by, both inside and outside of my classroom.

Joey believes Petco will do the right thing. It’s heartbreaking to know that Petco, a company that claims to love animals, has not offered any sort of formal apology to Joey or I. I’ve documented this journey to Joey’s recovery with pictures and videos, all beginning on January 28th, 2014 immediately after Joey’s grooming incident at Petco in Novato, CA.

Joey wants to be reimbursed immediately for his Veterinarian bills. This incident has not only been an unexpected financial hardship caused by the traumatic injury while being groomed at Petco, but it’s been emotionally draining and has required a tremendous amount of time and around the clock care from Joey’s surgeries to his current rehabilitation. Joey does not want this to ever happen to other dogs. And he is no longer a loyal customer to Petco. Friends don’t hurt each other.

Product or Service Mentioned: Petco Customer Care.

Monetary Loss: $7000.

Do You Have Something To Say ?
Write a review


You will be automatically registered on our site. Username and password will be sent to you via email.
Post Comment

I take my 11yr+ rescue pitt mix to Petco in Lebanon TN once a month to get bathed, teeth clean and nails done, usually painted pink. They are excellent and since moving to Nasville I still take her back to Danielle in Lebanon. Sorry for others that had bad experiences for their babies

@Teresa karotko

Why do people give themselves a pat on the back by always including the word "rescue"?


I am heartbroken yo hear what joey had and still has to endure. I am disgusted with petco and petsmart i have a rule of thumb that i now follow.

If my dov is going to get groomed i stay right their and watch the whole haircutting process. Always!!!


Too long, too dramatic for what it simply was, and too many unnecessary details. Getting to the point would have been better. Hope your dog is better by now.




I am so very sorry for Joey's horrific petco experience and resulting long term medical intervention. I wish both you and Joey a positive outcome and a return to a happy life for both of you...


I was going to make an appointment with them today but after reading this I'll never go back there again


My dog was groomed yesterday at petco. Grooming was perfect as I have a Cocker Spaniel and I like his hair to be a certain way.

Once we got home, I noticed his right eye was red and that pink part was swollen. Now today it's both eyes.

Here's the even worse part, I'm unemployed. I don't know if I'll receive unemployment assistance.

And I know the seriousness of an eye injury on a pet. My dog is my child. So basically now I'm trying to hustle up funds to take him in to a vet. Everybody wants money, I even called the humane society to see if they knew of any places in the area that would provide free vet care.

I'm assuming he will probably need antibiotics and some form of eye drops.

How in the *** did a grooming session turn into another issue is beyond me. This is the last thing I need right now.

Sidenote. I called that petco and told them what happened.

They said it's nothing they can do. Folks, stay away from the grooming at petco.

I will never take my dog there again.... Ever


Sometimes if the shampoo gets in the eyes, it can cause a corneal ulcer. They obviously don't do this on purpose.

Accidents happen.

I would have called the manager and complained. They need to pay for a vet visit and any tests/medication needed.

However, of course there is no vet who will treat your pet for free. Of course they expect to get paid for services they provide.

Vet Offices are a business. If they treated every single pet for free they wouldn't be able to stay open. Do you know how many times a day people say they have no money and want/expect the vet to treat the pet for free? It happens Numerous Times a day, even more so at emergency hospitals.

You cant blame a veterinary office for not treating for free. They have a hospital to run (which is not cheap in the least.), staff to pay, a family & pets of their own to take care of. People want to talk *** about vets when they won't treat a pet for free, yet I bet if someone walked into their work demanding free services they wouldn't provide them. Pets are a luxury not a right.

They cost money. If people cannot financially afford a pet, they shouldn't get one. Now, it's different if you already have the pet and something happens like losing a job (which I'm assuming is your situation). But tons of people get new puppies and kitties because they are cute, but they can't afford basic vet care, let alone afford a vet if they get sick.

I hope you were able to get your dog to the vet and that he is okay now. I see your comment was months ago.


I SO AGREE! I get crazy when folks get puppies but can't afford their shots, worming, heartworm, flea/tick preventive!

Or can't afford to feed, groom etc.

These things are a normal part of canine ownership! Then when the dog gets heartworms or parasite-hookworms etc they have to put them down or they just live it out without treatment!


OMG! I'm sorry for you too!

We paid petco nearly $1k for canine training. (We have 2 dogs). We took them, purchased everything they required and then realized WE were expected to do the training while they instructed us.i have spinal cord damage & husband has sustained a traumatic brain injury. This is why we needed our rowdy puppy (1yr old) controlled!

Long story short, after trying to do it at their insistance, we got back only 1/3 of our money and we only got 3 classes!! NEVER AGAIN.


please , could you tell us the e mail address ?? I have a complaint as well


Find it yourself via searching on Google. It's not that hard and it's not rocket science.


I am so very sorry you and worst of all joey has to go through. I used to help fill in for a lady whom owned a local dog grooming place.

She had this guy working for her for 2 weeks and she was walking in from lunch as he was hitting a dog he was grooming with a hair bursh cuz the dog didnt liked being groomed. She fired him on the spot, called the cops, and then the parents of the dog, whom happened to be long time clients of his. Found out a few weeks later that he was working for local petco grooming, she called and went out there to speak with managers and they didnt care. Because she had cameras in her little shop, he thank goodness got charged with animal cruelty.

.but guess what??? Still working on grooming dogs at petco


Please for God's sake do not take your furry babies at petco or Petsmart, I have seen groomers been rough and mean to dogs. find a groomer by words of the mouth trough friend. this is horrible, I witness once this mistreatment and told the manager at the store and they refuse to admit what I saw with my own eyes as the groomer handling the dogs that was wimpering and crying...please if you love your dog do not take them at those places.


Petco should legally be responsible! I have a shiitzu myself, and I have seen things happen at Petsmart and Petco.

I think I am the pickiest when it comes to my little girl! They are our kids!

Petco should reimburse what they owe! They took away so much from joey and caused heartache and hardship!


Petco doesn't owe a dime. Vet visits are never free so of course you should pay for your vet visit?

Still complaining?

Get a lawyer then and figure it out yourself. If you can't understand how vet bills aren't free, then you don't deserve to have a pet.


If you haven't gotten monetary satisfaction & a heartfelt apology by now; it's time to sue petco. If you have documented the whole episode from injury to whatever level of recovery Joey has attained then you have nothing to worry about.

With all that evidence, & witnesses such as, the Veternarian you will win back all of your money. Don't forget to report this establishment to the BBB & your Attorney General's office.

Far too often people verbalized or write their complaints, but then fail to report their issues to the appropriate authorities. I hope poor little Joey has regained his health & joyful demeanor ; & I pray you will take further action if needed.


Your letter is honestly too long. Find the groomer and break their hip, or beat them with a baseball bat until they tell you what happened.


Love this