CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Two former Chesterfield Petco employees face animal neglect charges after a dog was found dead in a drying cage at the store in May.
Suzanne C. Jensen and Rebecca L. Witherspoon were employed by Petco at the time of the incident and now face a class 4 misdemeanor charge of animal neglect.
Allison Marks dropped off Colby, a 2-year-old golden retriever, at the store to be groomed only to later find it dead in a drying cage at the Westchester Commons location. Marks, from Powhatan, said Petco employees told her that they found her dog dead in a drying cage and said a vet then told her he believed Colby died of a heat stroke.
Petco initially suspended the groomer who was caring for Colby. After an investigation, they say the "individuals directly involved" are no longer working for the company. Petco said it was taking "full responsibility" in the death of Colby and taking added measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. The national chain removed the type of kennel dryer that Colby was kept in at all Petco stores, and is giving additional training sessions at all of its grooming salons.
Both Jensen and Witherspoon have been served with a summons to appear in court on the charge. NBC12 went to their homes Friday to get a comment. A friend of Jensen's told us she didn't want to talk, while two 'no trespassing' signs and a car blocked the driveway to Witherspoon's home.
"I am glad to see there will be justice for Colby's death," Marks said upon hearing the news of the charges. "I am still extremely thankful for all the continuous support and prayers during this difficult time!"
Petco has declined to give specifics on exactly what happened to Colby. However, the chain says the type of dryer used on Colby, did not have heat or hot air.
Friday, the company issued, this statement saying, "We take full responsibility for what happened in Midlothian, and remain heartbroken over Colby's untimely passing. After a thorough investigation, it was clear our animal care protocols were not followed when it came to Colby. As a result, the individuals directly involved are no longer part of our company."
Meanwhile, Jensen and Witherspoon are due in court on September 23rd.
Each woman faces a class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a $250 fine.
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