The employees at the PetSmart in Evanston are not talking, nor are they taking in dogs for boarding or day care. “We are still waiting for pet parents to pick up their dogs,” said a manager at the store today. He then refused to answer any questions, stating that only the PetSmart media line could give out information. He refused to say whether shoppers should leave their dogs at home, so those who live in the Evanston area might want to call the store to ask that question before shopping with their pets.
Two dogs with canine flu virus has caused the Evanston PetSmart to close their pet hotel. According to ABC7, two dogs became sick after staying there. One pet owner says he asked about the possibility of his dog being exposed to the virus before dropping off his dog there. He claims that the employees told him not to worry. But when he picked up his dog two days later, his dog was sick.
PetSmart took Lucky to the vet to be treated for the virus; the owner is sure that the dog got sick from exposure at PetSmart. His dog is never around other dogs, so that was the only way his dog could have come in contact with the disease. To add insult to injury, the owner of the other sick dog, Susan Blanas of Evanston, said she believes that PetSmart billed Lucky’s owner for the cost of the $400 lab test to confirm that Lucky had the virus.
Blanas says that her dog, Baily, also became sick after staying at the Evanston PetSmart. While at PetSmart, she said, they made no effort to quarantine her dog, instead taking him to the grooming room and the PetSmart kennel and day camp. She explained that all the other dogs in those areas might have been exposed to the disease by being around her dog. She said, “My dog was in three areas of the store, and then we walked out through the store. My dog then had diarrhea outside the store. All those areas are contaminated.” She then stated that PetSmart “should refuse any dog that walks in the front door. They should shut down everything: grooming, boarding, daycare.” Blanas is looking for another groomer.
Blanas has not received an apology from PetSmart. She is faced with paying for the veterinarian bills on her own. In addition to their written statement to the press, PetSmart responded to specific questions today while also stating that “We are aware of one confirmed case of canine influenza which we learned of yesterday, August 13.” The questions and responses by PetSmart corporate are as follows:
Will those two pet owners be reimbursed for veterinary bills? PetSmart response: We are not reimbursing pet parents for their veterinary bills. As you know, there have been multiple reports of canine influenza and respiratory illness throughout the Chicago area since April. There are many ways that dogs can be exposed to the illness, and it’s impossible to determine how or where they’ve contracted it. PetSmart is focused on minimizing spread of the illness and has strict guidelines on isolation of sick pets, immediate veterinary care, discontinuation of new reservations and complete facility disinfection upon notice of influenza. PetSmart is also communicating individually with pet parents whose dogs may have become sick after being in the hotel.
Why were owners of dogs who were coughing not told that when they went to pick up their dogs? PetSmart response: ·The hotel has been notifying pet parents at both check-in and check-out that we have seen an increase of upper respiratory illness. The associates describe the symptoms to pet parents and evaluate all pets for these symptoms at check-in. If pets show signs of illness at check-in, the associate explains that these pets cannot be boarded at this time. While being boarded, if a pet in our care shows symptoms, it is immediately isolated from the rest of the pets and receives veterinary care. In addition, the pet parent is contacted immediately. (Note: Blanas was not notified that her dog was sick. It wasn’t until she called the next day that employees told her that her dog had diarrhea.)
How many dogs are still in boarding at the Evanston store? PetSmart response: Due to confidentiality reasons, we will not disclose the number of dogs in our care.
Is the store still open for grooming? (One of the sick dogs was groomed during his stay.) PetSmart response: Yes, the salon is open for grooming. We have strong disinfection practices in place throughout the store, including in the salon. In addition, we do not have any known cases of influenza in the salon.
Are shoppers being advised not to bring their dogs to the store because of the virus? If so, how are they being advised of that? By the employees? A sign? PetSmart response: ·The health and well-being of pets is our top priority, and we are doing everything we can to help contain the spread of this virus. That being said, because respiratory illnesses are highly contagious, associates are cautioning pet parents to monitor their dogs and keep them away from places where dogs congregate. We also have a sign in the store to communicate this to pet parents.
Susan Blanas doesn’t think that’s enough. She also disputes that PetSmart is communicating individually with pet parents whose dogs may have become sick during their stay at the store. As of today, no one from PetSmart corporate has contacted her. She advises shoppers to leave their dogs at home.