NParks probing home-based pet groomer who lost client’s dog that later died in traffic accident, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

NParks probing home-based pet groomer who lost client’s dog that later died in traffic accident

A home-based pet grooming business that lost a client’s dog, which was later killed in a traffic accident on April 29, is under investigation.

The National Parks Board (NParks) is conducting a probe into the case, involving a three-year-old cavalier poodle called Emma under the charge of the pet groomer Awesome Pawsome.

Emma’s owner, Ms Janet Tan, 56, had sent her dog to Awesome Pawsome at Ghim Moh Link on the evening of April 29 after she found knots in her fur.

Awesome Pawsome was not Ms Tan’s usual groomer, but she decided to send Emma there anyway because it was a short distance from her home and had more than 200 positive reviews on Google.

When she turned up at the groomer’s premises for her 5.30pm appointment that day, she found it unusual that it was located in a HDB flat, she told The Straits Times.

Running a pet grooming service from a Housing Board residential unit is prohibited, but Ms Tan did not know that.

There was only a maid present in the flat, and Ms Tan said she was “concerned” about leaving Emma with her.

She relented only after she called the groomer and was told a female staff member would be arriving shortly. She added that the groomer agreed with her request to send over photos of Emma periodically during the session.

Ms Tan, who works at a digital payments company, also asked the groomer to send Emma back to her home via a private-hire vehicle after the session, and for someone to accompany her on the journey.

At about 7.30pm, the groomer sent Ms Tan a WhatsApp message that Emma was ready to be sent back home, and Ms Tan paid Awesome Pawsome $160.

But about 30 minutes later, she got another message that the groomer had lost Emma.

“Janet, your dog slipped the leash and escaped while we were loading up the car,” read the message, which was seen by ST.

Another message read: “Janet, why is your body harness so loose, it’s not even secured.”

Our beloved Emma was sent to this unscrupulous groomer for the very 1st time.

Posted by Ray Khoo on Wednesday, May 1, 2024

In panic, Ms Tan enlisted her neighbours’ help through a text message group chat to search for Emma, after the groomer sent over the last known location of the dog.

“Instead of taking a car down to the spot, I went there on foot, in case Emma was following the route back to my place,” she said.

An hour later, Emma was found by Ms Tan’s colleague, whom she was hosting to dinner that night.

But just then, the dog dashed onto the road and was hit by a car.

Motionless and bloody, Emma was rushed to the Beecroft Bird & Exotics Veterinary Clinic in Alexandra Road, where vets administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 10 minutes. She was pronounced dead after that.

“I sent Emma to the groomer expecting her to come home looking better... Little did I know that she would only come home in an urn,” said a bereft Ms Tan.

Ms Tan said she and her husband had decided to get Emma as a 20th anniversary gift to themselves, adding that she considers the dog to be her second child, after her 17-year-old son.

“I keep blaming myself. Why did I send her there? I keep asking myself, what if I picked her up myself instead?” she said.

Her husband, Mr Raymond Khoo, a 60-year-old restaurateur, took to Facebook to express his grief and anger at Emma’s passing and how the groomer had handled the situation.

“The whole family is devastated,” he wrote. “Emma sleeps with me nightly; the bed feels empty, including the big void in my heart.”

The couple later took a closer look at Awesome Pawsome’s Google reviews and said they seemed to be bogus because they did not come with images, and its reviewers often did not rate other businesses.

The family later decided to lodge complaints about the incident with National Parks Board’s Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) and the police, in a bid to get answers about how something like this could happen.

The police confirmed that a report was lodged.

The groomer declined to comment when contacted by ST.

It gave the family a refund, but Ms Tan said she sent the money back, as she was offended by an “insensitive” note that accompanied it, and also because she felt no amount could make up for losing Emma.

AVS’ group director for industry standards and regulation, Ms Jessica Kwok, said in response to queries from ST that it was investigating the case.

She added that NParks would investigate and take action against operators “for cases with evidence to suggest that a pet had suffered injuries or death” due to their negligence.

Pets Enterprises and Traders AssociationanimalsANIMAL WELFAREnational parks board