A groomer charged with felony animal cruelty in the case of Henry, a 1-year-old Dachshund who died last year after going to a PetSmart for a nail trim has been found not guilty by a jury in San Mateo County.
Last year, the dog was taken to the PetSmart by chance by his owner after his regular groomer was unavailable that day. Just minutes after he was dropped off, Juan Zarate came out of the grooming office holding Henry, who was bleeding from his mouth and struggling to breath. The vet on-site was unable to save him.
A necropsy revealed Henry had died of “thoracic compression leading to asphyxia,” according to prosecutors. The necropsy’s x-rays also revealed Henry suffered two broken ribs and a punctured lung. San Mateo police responded quickly to the news and arrested Zarate and booked him on suspicion of felony animal cruelty.
At the time, police released a statement writing, “This is a tragic case of animal cruelty and thus, led to decisive action in the arrest of the alleged offender. The pets in our community can’t speak for themselves, so its inherent on all of us to be alert to the signs and symptoms of animal cruelty and neglect.”
However, a jury acquitted Zarate on one count of felony animal abuse on Friday June 16, 2017 after hearing the evidence against him, the Mercury News reported. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said of the outcome, “We presented the evidence of an expert veterinarian who testified that this was not an accident, but obviously, the jury did not find her persuasive. I accept that.”
Last year, Henry’s owners, Terrie Peacock and Stefan Zier, filed a lawsuit against PetSmart alleging the company had received several complaints of pet injuries during grooming appointments before but failed to take action to correct the problem. They want PetSmart and other groomers to better regulate and manage their grooming facilities so that no other dog suffers like Henry did.
“The goal is to change the systems, either internally or to have some sort of larger oversight and regulation of the industry. It really isn’t about the money,” their lawyer said.