La Mesa

Dog Dies in Care of La Mesa Dog Grooming Business

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A La Mesa couple is angry and confused after their dog died while in the care of a local groomer.

Marco Maritano and husband Michael Meadows dropped their dog Sookie off at Andy’s Pet Salon in La Mesa, the same groomer they’ve used for years. But this time Sookie never came home.

To add their grief, they say can't get anyone to explain or even take responsibility. NBC 7 reached out to the business and did not hear back from anyone connected to it.

Sookie, a six year-old husky & lab mix, was a blessing for Marco and Michael.

“She looked like a wolf. She had these brown eyes, super expressive brown eyes,” said Maritano.

She also helped ease the grieving process when the couple had to say goodbye to their 14-year-old dog Mocha.

“She was a member of this family,” said Meadows.

On Saturday, they left Sookie with a groomer at 11 a.m., Maritano told NBC 7.

“I showed him a picture of the dog, of Sookie. 'This is the cut that I want,'” Maritano told the groomer.

A couple of hours went by, Then the groomer called and said he gave Sookie a break from her haircut.

“I told him that doesn’t sound right, but since she had long hair again, assuming in good faith that everything was going to be OK, we said maybe she had so much hair that he needed to take a break,” said Maritano.

When it neared 5 p.m. the couple hadn't received an update so they called the salon.

“At 4:54 p.m. I call him to ask for an ETA because it was taking a long time, and he told me, ‘Your dog got out and I’m searching for her now,’" Maritano recounted.

Maritano, Meadows and the groomer looked for hours, each one spread out around the area but had no luck, according to the couple. The next morning, they checked with police and was told CHP officers had spotted a deceased dog on the freeway.

“Said that she was deceased on Highway 8 near Fletcher Parkway,” said Meadows.

Maritano could overhear the conversation and became emotional.

"I can’t eat, can’t sleep. I’ve been two days straight," said Maritano.

It’s unclear how Sookie got out.

“The guy told us that she jumped the gate. The gate is so tall I don’t think a police dog trained would be able to jump,” said Maritano.

Other than the initial conversation about the discovery of Sookie's body, the couple said they haven’t gotten any explanation or even an apology.

“I was very blunt. I said you killed my dog. That’s what I told him because that’s exactly how I feel,” said Maritano. “And then he answered to me. 'Oh she’s dead? So sorry.'”

Now they prepare to say goodbye again to another furry family member.

“You’re expecting when you bring your dog to the groomer and the worst that can happen is that you get a bad haircut and you don’t like it. And the hair grows back. You don’t expect to get her back in a plastic bag,” said Maritano.

NBC 7 tried multiple times to reach the owner of the business, who lives out of state, but she declined to comment.

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