Debate Magazine

Every Pet-owner’s Nightmare: Cat Brought in for Grooming; Dies; Cremated Without Telling Owner

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Sandy the cat

Kurtis Ming reports for CBS Sacramento, May 15, 2015, that just hours after Vanessa Rodriguez-McQuade had dropped off her cat Sandy at VIP Pets in Marysville, CA, the groomer told her Sandy had died.

Even worse, VIP Pets already had Sandy cremated, which means there’ll be no necropsy (autopsy for an animal), which means Vanessa will never know what caused her cat’s death.

The groomer Emma Chen told Vanessa her cat simply became unresponsive and died. But Vanessa is dubious because Sandy “was a perfectly healthy two-year old cat” –“so hyper, so happy.”

To top it off, VIP Pets would not give her Sandy’s ashes. So Vanessa asked for CBS Sacramento’s help.

The TV station learned the State of California does not license groomers. It is up to each business to decide what kind of certifications and experience they require from their employees.

Emma Chen, owner of VIP Pets, insists “I feel like I do my best.” She said Sandy was taken to a vet, who told VIP Pets the cat had died of a heart attack, stroke or blood clot. But the vet’s office told CBS Sacramento they never saw the cat.

Chen also said her staff had asked Vanessa if she wanted the necropsy, but “They did not want it.” However, Vanessa said she and her husband specifically told them they did want one. After CBS Sacramento’s intervention, Chen did inform Vanessa where her cat was taken for cremation. Now, Sandy’s ashes are home, with VIP Pets paying for the cremation and urn.

CBS Sacramento also took the case to vet Dr. Jyl Rubin, who has cared for exotic and domestic animals for decades. Dr. Rubin said, “How would we ever know the cause of death [when] they just cremate them without any evidence?”

The vet says grooming can be stressful for pets and could lead to potentially deadly health conditions. She recommends staying with your pet throughout the process. If you can’t stay to see your pet being groomed, ask for a tour and have them explain how they are groomed and where they’ll be keeping your pet.

Vanessa said still misses Sandy and is not sure why she died, but at least she has her beloved cat’s ashes: “I’m sure she’s probably happy to be home.”

VIP Pets

Given Emma Chen had lied just about everything, if I were Vanessa Rodriguez, I wouldn’t be so sure that the urn actually contains Sandy’s ashes. I would also sue Emma Chen and VIP Pets.

VIP Pets is located in Marysville, Yuba City, and Lincoln City, California.

Emma Chen’s grooming service is available only at the Marysville store. Avoid “the service” at all cost.


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