Dog Groomer Accused of Murdering Maltese

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dog Groomer Accused of Murdering Maltese

No one expects to pick up the phone and hear their veterinarian tell them that their healthy dog they dropped off to the clinic’s dog groomer is on oxygen and not “in good condition,” but that’s exactly what happened to Barbara Calhoun last week.

Barbara and her husband, Bill, of Springfield, Mo. took their 3 ½ year old Maltese, Darby, to a groomer at their veterinary clinic that Darby had seen twice before.

When they got to the vet’s office, they asked, "'What happened?  What happened?' and the doctor said, 'Well, she was thrown against the wall,'" Barbara told KSPR 33 News.  

The Calhoun’s arrived at Spring Valley Veterinary Hospital just before Darby slipped away.

The veterinarian claims that Darby, who had not had a history of aggression, bit the groomer as she reached into the cage. The groomer reacted; throwing the 8-pound dog against a wall, inflicting serious enough injuries that she could not be saved.

"I laid down on the floor and I just screamed," Barbara told reporters, crying as she relived the incident in her mind.

The groomer, who has not been named in media accounts, was fired Thursday morning.

"I know she felt horrible immediately.  She regretted it tremendously," said Dr. Ted Betzen, who owns the clinic. “I'm not going to condone what she did; she did overreact. You can understand it but you can't excuse it.  It's inexcusable what she did."

The Calhoun’s cannot understand it, forget it, or right now, forgive it. The couple is having trouble sleeping, Barbara says. They’re having trouble eating without their little furball under the table. And they’re calling their dog’s death ‘murder.’

“Why, why?" The Calhoun’s asked.  "She said she feared for her life so [she] threw her, and I don't know, feared for a life from a little eight-pound dog?"  

As of last week, the health department, which handles such cases, had not been called.

Maltese are not typically high strung dogs and many people are wondering on social media if Darby was afraid of the groomer for some reason and bit the groomer out of fear.  

What’s of concern is that this groomer could get another job working with animals, since Missouri does not require licensing of pet groomers.

Leaving your 4-legged furkid with a groomer is a risky proposition, you’re entrusting the care of your baby, in some cases, to people with very little experience or formal training and no license.

This past summer, we  reported on a dog named Bodie, who was lost from a grooming shop in California. According to Bodie’s Facebook page, it appears the dog was never located.

It’s of the utmost importance pet parents ask many questions of potential groomers. Pet360 has put together a comprehensive list of things you should ask a groomer before leaving your pet with them.

Editor’s Note: Photo of Darby from Bill and Barbara Calhoun.

Do you believe this groomer should be charged with animal cruelty, or at least identified so she cannot work with animals again?