Love Unleashed

December 12, 2012 by Tails Magazine in Featured, Home, Lifestyle, Pets 101 with 7 Comments

Why You Should Never Leave a Restrained Dog Unattended

By Meghan Heeter


When going to the groomers, many dogs get scared and nervous. Low whining, non-stop pulling at the leash, and darting toward front-door-freedom are all part of the routine. No stranger to this kind of behavior, my three year-old Brussels Griffon, Pi, was extra jumpy when I dropped her off for a haircut with a new groomer on June 15, 2012.

I got Pi as a 10-week-old puppy and the moment I looked at her I knew life wouldn’t be the same. It was Halloween 2008 and there must’ve been a full moon because I somehow convinced my husband to get a second dog. At first, he was against bringing a new puppy into our home, but once I mentioned that I wanted to name her “Pi,” his inner math geek started to warm up to the idea. I think he pictured a studious and demure dog with glasses and a tweed jacket sitting quietly by the fire. Miss Pi, however, was more like a tornado in a tank top.

She was a scraggly, mischievous, and loud little thing that pooped on my arm during our first day together. She resembled a deranged Ewok with her crooked teeth, scruffy beard, and buggy eyes. Full-grown at 11 pounds, she began to rule our 1,200-square-foot brick bungalow home. She discovered joy in shredding paper, barking at bare walls, and terrorizing our Wheaten Terrier, Badger.

Yet, with all her mania and self-assurance, she was just a “love bug” and depended on me completely. She never left my side and wouldn’t even let me take a shower without nudging open the bathroom door and taking her place on the bath mat. She liked to snuggle while we watched movies on the couch. She would fall asleep on my chest, and I loved feeling our hearts beat together.

I was Pi’s protector. When frightened, she would use my legs as her fortress, hiding behind them until I picked her up and held her tight. After suffering a fall from our bed, we spent several thousand dollars with a surgeon to mend her broken leg. I was there to nurse her back to health and our bond grew even stronger.

Pi was everything to me.

But even with all my motherly caution, I wasn’t able to protect Pi in the end. She died alone, hanging by a neck restraint over the side of a cold bath tub at the groomers.

Meghan Heeter with Pi and Badger

The groomer had secured Pi with the restraint in an empty bath tub and then left to attend to another dog. When the groomer returned, she found Pi’s lifeless body hanging outside of the tub. It was too late to do anything. Pi had jumped out of the tub and strangled herself to death in the restraint.

It’s true what Marley & Me author, John Grogan, says about dogs –“owning a dog always ends with this sadness because dogs just don’t live as long as people do.” Sadly, at three years old Pi should have had many more years ahead of her.

As I tried to make sense of this accident, I learned that we were not alone in our pain. Countless dogs throughout the country have died from accidental strangulation while left unattended. Many cases have occurred at groomers, in backyards, in the beds of pickup trucks, and even in dog crates, as leashes get caught and dogs will struggle to get loose.

Please remember Pi, and never leave a restrained dog unattended. She lost her life within a matter of minutes because of a human’s carelessness. Don’t let this happen to a dog in your care.

If you are a groomer, please talk with your employees and colleagues today to remind them about the dangers of leaving restrained dogs unattended.

If you are a dog parent, never leave your dog alone while on a leash or chain. Even if you don’t have a dog but you’re an animal lover, please pass this story along to others. No one ever intends to put their dog in danger, but it happens every day.

Through this heartbreak, I’ve learned that the saddest tragedies are the ones that could have easily been prevented.

With your help, let’s make sure this never happens again.

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  1. meagan sammonsDecember 14, 2012 at 11:26 amReply

    I have been a groomer and never once since 2005 have I let a single dog out of my sight. I know the dangers of what can happen and this was a mistake and tragedy that should have never occurred.

  2. JoanneDecember 12, 2012 at 8:13 pmReply

    I worked as a bather in a groom shop and we NEVER left a dog unattended in a tub! If we had to step away even for a few seconds we would tell the other bathers to stand watch. God I couldn’t imagine losing one of my dogs to such neglect.

  3. Meghan HeeterDecember 12, 2012 at 2:33 pmReply

    Thank you all for your thoughtful and comforting comments. We appreciate you helping us get the word out. Bonnie- most groomers that I’ve spoken with appreciate our efforts and are open to talking about this important pet safety issue. I would suggest talking to your groomer about our story and reminding them of the dangers of leaving a restrained dog unattended. But also keep in mind it can happen anywhere. So we as pet owners must be diligent as well.
    Thanks again!!

  4. Leslie GlassmannDecember 12, 2012 at 1:59 pmReply

    Meghan; my heart breaks for you!! I am going to forward this to my groomers; Until last year, I always used a mobile groomer where my dogs were her only clients. I very sadly lost my groomer (who also became my closest friend) to cancer. this story is forcing me to go find a new mobile groomer; i cannot trust to have my girls left unattended. You are a very strong person for sharing your story; God Bless you and your dear Pi.

  5. lindaDecember 12, 2012 at 1:53 pmReply

    That’s why I do Mobil grooming, one on one, never out it site of Groomer. Never should have happened, restraint should have been shorter. My dogs aren’t even allowed to hang head close to edge of tub.

  6. CatherineDecember 12, 2012 at 1:36 pmReply

    I am so sorry this happened to your sweet baby girl! I started crying when I read your story. I really don’t know what else to say, because nothing can really help ease the pain of losing a beloved pet. My heart goes out to you, and my best wishes to you and your family. May Pi be happy and running free over the Rainbow Bridge. God Bless.

  7. BonnieDecember 12, 2012 at 12:52 pmReply

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Meghan. Pi was a beautiful lady. Do you have any suggestions on how to broach this subject with the groomer? Thank you for sharing Pi’s story.

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