Former Petco workers fined $150 after dog dies in Chesterfield store's dryer cage

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Two former Petco workers were found guilty of a class misdemeanor for the death of a dog back in June at its Chesterfield store.

According to the judge, Suzanne Jensen and Rebecca Witherspoon will be charged a $250 fine with $100 suspended. The dog's owner, Alison Marks, said it gave her a little bit of closure. However, she said she still misses her buddy, and it's been tough hearing about his final hours.

"I don't think they intentionally did it, but I just think they didn't pay attention," Marks said. A judge agreed, saying Colby's death was "preventable" had Jensen and Witherspoon used "better judgment." Throughout the case, the women claimed the store's AC was on the fritz and contributed to the death. "The blame is leaving my dog in that kennel for that time," Marks said when talking about that defense.

Witherspoon, who was the groomer, testified Colby was anxious, so she put him in a drying kennel close to the door. The kennel was surrounded by plexi-glass and had an grated front. That day, Witherspoon left just before noon, leaving Colby in Jensen's care. Witherspoon said at that point, the dog was alive. However, we learned in court Tuesday that Colby was dead by 12:46.

A veterinarian testified when he saw Colby more than an hour later, the dog's temperature was more than 111 degrees and he had died of heat stroke. Witherspoon's lawyer said the changing of the guard and the store's condition makes it hard to assign blame. "It's hard to determine exactly what happened to Colby during that whole time. You're talking about a four or five hour span of time where he was in the care of different groomers," Witherspoon's attorney Jesse Baez explained.

Back in June, Petco said it has taken "full responsibility" in the death of Colby, and that the national chain is taking added measures to prevent such a tragedy from happening again by removing "the type of kennel dryer Colby was housed in" from all of its stores. The chain also said it fired employees involved with the situation, and their former managers said things have changed since they left.

"We did do away with that dryer. It was taken out. Dogs are no longer left for four hours at a time. When they're groomed, they go home," Petco inventory manager James Grisom said.

For Marks, it's a little consolation. "This is just the start. I'm not done yet," Marks said.

Both Marks' and Witherspoon's attorney said they're weighing their options.

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