Pet grooming business shut down after dog's death - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah pet groomer cited after dog's death

Becky Bailey walked Tondee. Becky Bailey walked Tondee.

A Savannah pet groomer is shut down after a dog dies. The owner has been cited for animal cruelty, among other violations - including operating without a license from the state of Georgia for nine years.

On Wednesday afternoon, Savannah-Chatham County Animal Control officers, the Georgia Department of Agriculture inspectors and police were at Loving Touch Pet Groomers on Habersham Street, where they conducted a surprise inspection.

The Levy family told WTOC they brought their 9-year-old Spinger Spaniel named Tondee in to be groomed. They said Tondee went in healthy and without any help, and that later that day, they got a call from the groomers saying Tondee was in bad shape.

"Tondee was in a kennel with no water. He was panting, his tongue was hanging out of his mouth and Tondee could not get up," Becky Bailey told WTOC.

Bailey is Tondee's dog walker and a close friend of Tondee's owner, Joan Levy. Bailey said the dog was rushed to a veterinarian with heat stroke symptoms, but the doctors couldn't save him. The family blames Loving Touch, and says Tondee's body temperature was 108 degrees when they came to pick him up. A dog's normal body temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees.

Two days later, a state agriculture officer and animal control officers inspected the business, trying to determine whether the groomers had anything to do with Tondee's death.

Animal control officers said: "the conditions were deplorable. The first thing was the heat, and the smell, there was and overwhelming smell of urine which can cause breathing problems for animals and humans," according to a Savannah-Chatham Metro Police news release. Animal control officers saw overcrowding and hair everywhere, which is housekeeping issue when dealing with dogs, according to the news release.

Police said the business owner, Sallie Bond, admitted that she did not keep water readily available for the animals.

Bond is expected in court May 11. She faces one count of keeping of animals, a sanitation issue, one count of animal cruelty, 12 counts of animal neglect, one count of operating without a license and 12 counts of no proof of vaccinations.   

Loving Touch was immediately shut down.

If Bond is found guilty of animal cruelty, she will never be able to hold a license to work with animals again, according to SCMPD Public Information Officer Gena Moore.

People wanting to drop their pets off to be groomed found out Loving Touch has been shut down. 

"It was really hot and stuffy - very stuffy. They just told us they couldn't take any more pets and there was nothing they could do for us," Briana Robinson told WTOC.

"I would like to see them penalized; pay a fine. I don't want to see any business in this economy nowadays shut down," Bailey said.

WTOC spoke with Bond. She was visibly shaken and upset. She said she is "embarrassed" by this whole situation. She told WTOC that there was nothing she could have done to save Tondee, who she described as being overweight and having health problems for years. She admits the front reception area is hot, but that the air conditioning is set to 74 degrees in the back where the grooming takes place.

Bond claims Tondee would not drink water and had to be lifted into the groomer to begin with, a claim Tondee's owners call untrue.

Loving Touch is now closed, and Bond is expected in court on May 11.

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