SARASOTA, Fla. -- The State Attorney’s Office is considering animal cruelty charges against a Venice groomer shown in a minute-long video allegedly showing the groomer mishandling and injuring a dog.
"The video speaks for itself. You can hear her yell -- stop it stop it … calling the dog a swear word, slamming the dog's head on the table after choking it out and shaking it,” said Briana Brady, an employee who worked at The Happy Puppy Pet Spa on Shamrock Road.
Brady worked at the grooming shop for four weeks and at first thought groomer and shop owner Phyllis Lucca’s behavior wasn’t alarming.
“At first I thought it was not abuse and dismissed it, but I thought she was roughly handling the dogs,” said Brady.
But two weeks ago, Cynthia Crowe’s poodle Pumpkin had her jaw broken, abdomen bruised and ear cut. Lucca was the groomer.
"I’m suffering for what she did to my dog,” Crowe said.
Lucca denies hurting the animals.
“I do not hurt animals, I love them,” responded Phyllis Lucca, .
After learning about Pumpkin’s injuries Brady grew suspicious and on Friday shot video of Lucca working on another dog. The video has been viewed more than 200-thousand times and shared nearly 24-thousand times.
Brady said, “It broke my heart I think it broke the heart of every groomer.”
Lucca says the dog had passed out from stress and she was trying to revive it. I’m not choking the dog holding her neck so she snaps back,” she said.
Brady was so appalled she put the video on her Facebook page marked it public and has asked everyone who sees it to share it. Brady said. “I would like to see justice done for those animals not let her harm any animal in the US.”
Lucca has been bombarded with hate calls from across the country. As for Crowe, she will be keeping her Pumpkin close by her side.
Crowe said, “He’s never going to a groomer. I will learn how to groom him.
We did some checking and learned Sarasota County does not certify pet groomers. it just gives them a tax i-d number. According to the Humane Society there's no government agency or professional association that regulates pet groomers in the country.
So how can you protect your pet? The Humane Society recommends you start with a groomer that's referred to you. But still-- check references and the facility.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the facility well-lit?
- Does it look and smell clean?
- Does the staff appear knowledgeable and caring?
- Does the staff handle pets gently?
- Are cages the appropriate size? (Do the animals have enough room to stand and turn around comfortably?)
- Are dogs and cats caged in separate areas?
- Are pets monitored regularly to prevent overheating during blow-drying?
- Does the groomer keep complete pet records (including grooming, medical, vaccination and emergency contact information)?
Know ahead of time what a grooming will cost. Ease your pet’s fears by getting them used to it at home. Daily massages and brushings would help.
Communicate with the groomer about your pet’s needs, temperament and health.
Keep goodbyes short and sweet because emotional departures will only stress out your pets.