POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. – A Powhatan family blames human error by a groomer at Petco for their young dog's tragic death. Family members said Allison Marks dropped Colby, a two-year-old golden retriever, off at the Petco at Westchester Commons in Chesterfield County Friday. Relatives said Colby had no health problems and was scheduled for a routine grooming.
Melody Newman, whose mother's dog died, said the family is still in "complete shock" over what happened.
"My sister had called and she told me what had happened and I was like, 'Are you serious?'" Newman said. "Colby was a very playful puppy. He just turned two in February. He was so playful."
Marks called Friday the worst day of her life since her husband's death.
"He's been going there since he was a puppy," Marks said during an interview from her backyard Sunday evening not far from her beloved pet's doghouse.
That doghouse now sits empty, a lingering reminder of the loss of what she described as the "sweetest dog" who did not have "a mean bone in his body."
According to Marks, when she had not heard back from Petco after a couple of hours after she dropped off her dog, she called the store. That's when she was told to meet the store's assistant manager at an area animal hospital. When she arrived, she said Petco's assistant manager told her Colby was accidentally left in a heated drying cage for too long.
"This is her exact words: your groomer had to go because she had a graduation to go to," Marks said.
The veterinarian told her Colby likely died of heat stroke. In fact, she said she was told that more than an hour after Colby's death, the dog's internal temperature still registered more than 105 degrees.
"I said, Well, if they cut off after 15 minutes, how come his temperature is still so high?'" she said.
"You could clearly see he was dead. His eyes were glazed over and stuff. And I just said, 'Is he dead?' And they said, 'Yes, he's passed on.' And... that was the worst day ever."
Marks added that Petco's management team was very kind during the ordeal. In fact, she said the assistant manager was weeping along with her at the vet's office.