Four former PetSmart employees are being charged in connection with the death of a CBS Sports reporter’s dog that was allegedly strangled during a grooming visit in November 2020.
Court records show that Julie Miller, Shaphan Stonge, Elizabeth Doty, and Heather Rowe have been charged with several offenses, including at least one count each of felony animal cruelty.
Back on November 17th, an 11-year-old toy poodle named Kobe was sent to the PetSmart in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a nail trim.
“When I brought him in, I asked if I could stay because he was just the type of dog that he liked to see where I was at all times,” Kobe’s owner and NFL sideline reporter AJ Ross told PEOPLE.
“They told me because of COVID I couldn’t stay in the grooming area,” she said.
Ross said she decided to walk to a nearby drugstore to make a purchase before going back to PetSmart a few minutes later.
When she returned, she heard an employee on the intercom asking for a manager to come to the grooming area.
Ross said minutes later, the manager escorted her to the salon, where Kobe was laying “motionless on the grooming table,” she recalled. “He looked lifeless. He didn’t even look like he was breathing.”
Ross rushed her poodle to a local animal hospital, but the veterinarians were unable to save him. The PetSmart manager initially told her Kobe had fainted during his nail trimming.
However, Ross was able to view the surveillance footage from the incident and saw what really happened.
“They used two separate leashes,” she explains. “One is directly above the grooming table at a vertical angle, and the other leash was horizontal. So he’s tethered in two different directions. They begin to clip his nails, and there’s two of them, and they’re lifting him up in a way that he can’t put his paws down on the table at all.”
Ross explained that her beloved dog had no stability while he was hanging by his neck, causing him to writhe and twist and struggle to get air, all while employees continued cutting his nails.
Ross contacted the Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh, and they launched an immediate investigation.