LYING on its side, fur shorn off, eyes wide open, tongue hanging out, with no signs of life.
This was how Mr Devarajan found his 3-year-old Maltese terrier, Junior, after he left it with a pet groomer.
Neither did the other pet owners who lost their pets on the grooming table.
The SPCA said it has received seven complaints of pets dying during grooming sessions in the past year.
Currently, only pet shops selling animals are required to be licensed by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority.
Should they be?
"Pet grooming is not the same as hairdressing. An animal can be abused with no visible injuries and it won't be able to tell you," said Mr Devarajan.
A post-mortem on his dog found bleeding, possibly the result of being hit on the head.
The 47-year-old general manager had taken Junior to Strawberry Pet Shop in Jurong West for grooming at 5pm on 13 Sep. He was told to pick the dog up an hour later.
Ten minutes later, he received a call from the groomer telling him that the dog had fainted. He rushed back to the shop.
"When I arrived, I saw my dog lying there motionless. His eyes were wide-opened and his face was frozen. I carried him and his body was still warm, but there was no pulse," recalled Mr Devarajan.
Confused, Mr Devarajan tried to question the groomer. He claimed that the groomer, a Chinese national, ignored him.
"Maybe he couldn't speak English, but he didn't seem remorseful. Nor did he show any emotion," Mr Devarajan alleged. "His boss, the pet shop owner, apologised and said he was sorry my dog was dead."
The owner of Strawberry Pet Shop, who identified himself only as Lawrence, said he felt bad about the death of Mr Devarajan's dog.
"I apologised to him, but it does not mean we are at fault," he said.
"I asked my groomer if he had abused the dog in any way, but he said no. I am confident he didn't, as I let him groom my own dogs," he said.
"He might be rough sometimes, but that is only when the dogs are naughty."
Mr Devarajan said he was told that his dog had been aggressive earlier, then it suddenly fainted.
"The owner told me the groomer had tried to resuscitate my dog when it fainted," said Mr Devarajan.
He later took the dog to a vet, who found it was dead. He then informed the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and sent the dog there for a post-mortem.
According to Dr Wong Hon Mun, a deputy director of AVA, the dog died from severe brain haemorrhages, probably as a result of trauma. The AVA said it is still investigating the case.
Under the Animals and Birds Act, any person found guilty of committing an act of animal cruelty can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed up to 12 months, or both.
Two other pet owners whose dogs suffered injuries after being sent for grooming are also calling for regulation of the pet grooming industry.
Ms Amy Lim, 42, a real estate agent, who sent her dog to Strawberry Pet Shop last November alleged that not only did the groomer insist on shaving her dog bald, she also found red marks around her dog's neck from being leashed too tightly.
"When I went to pick up my dog, I saw it had been left on its own on the table in the grooming room. If my dog had jumped off, it could have hung itself on the leash," she said.
The pet shop owner, Lawrence, claimed her dog had to be shaved as its fur was in bad condition.
"Her dog was not injured but she later came back to complain, so I gave her back her money," said Lawrence.
The owner added that his groomer, 24, was certified in China, had work experience and even some veterinary knowledge.
The groomer, who declined to reveal his name, said he has been working as a groomer for three years.
Ms Lim remains disturbed by the incident. She said there should be licensing and certification of pet groomers here.
"There is no way a pet owner can know for sure how trained or experienced a groomer is," she said.
Dog owner Jessica Tan, 28, shares the same concern. She had paid $30 for a grooming session for her dog at Pet's Club, a pet shop on Serangoon North Avenue 1, but had to fork out $300 later in veterinary fees after it was injured by the groomer.
"The pet shop owner gave me Burnol antiseptic cream to apply on my dog's cut and told me it would heal in no time," said Miss Tan.
Miss Tan added that she asked the pet shop owner if a product meant for humans could be used on dogs. The reply: Yes.
Five days later, the cut on her one-year-old Maltese terrier, Yuki, was infected and oozed pus. It required six stitches to sew up the cut.
When interviewed, the groomer of Pet's Club, Mr Herbert Lim, 42, admitted that he had accidentally cut Miss Tan's dog with clippers during grooming because it was moving around a lot.
"It's only a cut. These accidents happen every day. It's not a big deal. It wasn't intentional, it's not as if a whole piece of skin came out," he said, adding that he still felt bad about the incident.
Mr Lim, who said he was a certified dog trainer and groomer, claimed he had delayed compensating Miss Tan as he wanted to verify with his vet that the amount she wanted as compensation was justified.
This article was first published in The New Paper
Credit By: http://www.asiaone.com/News/The%2BNew%2BPaper/Story/A1Story20091020-174715.html
OS: Poor Maltese..May he R.I.P...