Austin resident Shane Todd and his 2-year-old dog, Piper, were in for an unwelcomed surprise on a recent visit to PetSmart in Bee Cave.
While he was shopping for a collar and treats, Piper was attacked by a pitbull mix, Shelly, who a PetSmart employee was training in the store, Todd said.
“[Piper] was on a retractable leash that was only 4 feet,” he recalled. “The dog that was being trained was on a 20-foot leash. The dog just took after my dog, bit her neck and flipped her around three or four times.”
Piper suffered multiple wounds and has been traumatized by the incident, he said.
“She almost tried to break my dog’s neck,” he said. “She’s got puncture wounds with all these scabs. She’s hiding under the bed all day. She’s shaking her [paws] all the time. She wouldn’t go outside to go to the bathroom – we had to pick her up and take her outside.”
As restitution, PetSmart offered Todd a $50 gift certificate.
“Basically, my dog almost got killed because PetSmart was doing a training exercise with a 20-foot leash inside PetSmart, where customers are,” Todd said. “ ‘Your dog almost got killed and mangled – here’s a $50 gift card.’ That showed me that PetSmart did not take this seriously at all.”
Todd said he wants PetSmart to change its policy, prohibiting training exercises from being conducted inside the store.
“It’s not about how far leashes go – they should not be doing exercises inside the store,” he said.
Toni Eberhardt, PetSmart senior manager of public affairs, said she is unsure if a policy change will be enacted, but the store’s pet safety team is in contact with Todd.
“The pet safety team is the one that works directly with the pet parent and also evaluates the situation to understand, to make sure that all of our policy and procedures were followed by our associates, and if there’s any lessons to be learned by an incident, the pet safety team takes that in consideration, as well,” Eberhardt explained.
Training is done inside to store to teach pets to follow instructions despite distractions, she said.
“The entire incident is being reviewed so that if there are any lessons to be learned that can help mitigate the risk of a similar situation in the future, we do that,” she said.
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