Breeder's Choice Grooming — Business Practices
I have never taken my dog to be groomed at Breeder's Choice, but are connected with them via my girlfriend, who works there. Hopefully if the owner comes across this complaint it will not affect my girlfriend's job, as she is sound asleep at the moment and has no idea that I am writing this...I just need to get these complaints off my chest.
The work that this grooming shop does is not of poor quality. I am under the impression that they have won some grooming competitions, and from the photos I have seen in the shop and the dogs of people I know who have them groomed there that I've seen, the end result of the service is good. Nothing that outshines other top-quality grooming shops, but the dogs look good. This is more of a complaint about the behind the scenes work rather than the product quality, as that seems just fine.
The first incident I'd like to cite is the first month or two my partner was working at this establishment. I went up to visit her at work one day and brought our [at the time--I can't remember the exact date] roughly 3-4 month old puppy, who is a golden retriever/rottweiler mix. As some background information, we found his mother [the golden in him] as a stray: covered in ticks and fleas, dehydrated, emaciated, and VERY pregnant. We took her home and nursed to her to as healthy as we could before she popped out eight puppies five days later. Only one pup didn't make it. We found loving homes for six of them, kept Mama and the 7th pup--he and the one who passed away being the only two who were black with rottie markings. Because of these circumstances, we have raised our little boy [Riley] since he was born, and made sure to start acclimating hime to all sorts of new things so he would be a wonderfully adjusted, healthy puppy. He was a dream for the vet, never cried during vaccinations, knew how to sit, stay, lay down, shake, roll over, and high-five by 10weeks old, and sat perfectly still and absolutely quiet for nail clipping and bathing from the time he was very young. The sweetest puppy you'd ever meet.
Back to the original topic. I came in that day to see my girlfriend with our pup, and we were a bit behind on his nail clipping, which was done at regular intervals, and done very well by our vets standards; my girlfriend is a pro at it, having spent a couple years as a veterinary assistant/kennel care attendant. Her boss at Breeder's Choice offered to do it for us, and I said sure, thinking it was nice of her to offer. I handed over my son [ :) ] and was looking through a brochoure, or something of the sort, as she started on his nails when I heard a rare sound--Riley yelping at the top of his lungs. This dog, who, during god knows how many nail clippings, has never made so much as a peep or moved a muscle, was now yelping and crying to beat the band, with the owner and another employee trying to hold him still. With each snap of the clippers, a new and louder yell came from my dog, and by the time it was over my eyes were nearly full of tears and I was beyond angry. She explained that with certain dogs nails you HAVE to quick them on purpose so the quicks don't get too long and keep the nails from being able to be cut short. I bid my girlfriend goodbye and took my dog and left without another word to her boss, Riley whimpering with his nails covered in flour [or cornstarch, or whatever it is--I forget--they use to stop the bleeding when quicked]. I don't know how other people feel about dogs and how their emotions are towards humans, or dog/human communication, but I believe he was very upset with me, and very confused--I had never let him be hurt before and I failed to protect him from being hurt not once, twice, or three times--but ten.
I later spoke to three separate vets and one vet tech, who all assured me of the same thing--sometimes quicking a dogs nails to keep the nail bed short enough is nessicary. But 75% of dogs that need that are old dogs with years of the quick growing longer, and with the young dogs that need it [or any dog that needs it for that matter], it is ALWAYS done when the dog is already under some kind of anesthesia for spaying/neutering, surgery, or something else; or with the foot under some local anesthetic, because it is very, very painful for a dog or puppy. They also all told me that most of the time vets do this and not grooming places because it is better to be done under a vets care due to there being major veins that run into a dogs paws and the danger if a nail is quicked 'too far'. To this day my dog cries when his feet are TOUCHED, much less his nails cut, and my once tolerant boy now gets angry, growls, and sometimes bites at anyone who gets near his paws. The same day before she pretty much traumatized him as far as nail clipping goes, she determined he had an 'ear infection' and gave me a bottle of 'the very expensive' ear solution they use at the shop to put in his ears. I was very thankful for this 'free' bottle of ear wash that had expired over a year ago...they're putting expiered medication on/in clients dogs?
My girlfriend bathes the dogs up there. She is the first one with each animal, washes them, and then either she dries the dog or the next person in the chain does. The last station for the dog is the grooming, which the owner does. I have been told by old customers, my partner, and old employees that on a regular basis that the other employees hit dogs in the face with brushes, smack them [face, body, rump, etc] with excessive force, and have even seen the employees [or owner, can't recall which] hit a dog with the force dryer that is used for blow drying. All because dogs won't stand still, or sit the way the person wants. They claim on the website to be sensitive to dogs special needs, but when one client brings their dog [who is deaf and blind] the poor scared animal is hit, put in head locks, and jerked around because it's frightened and won't sit still. I have heard about a dog or two being left alone in the noose on the groomers table and jumping off, with my girlfriend and another employee having to leave their stations to hold and lift up the poor dog so it wouldn't be choked/strangled to death.
There are other small things here and there about the treatment of dogs that I cannot recall, but if most owners knew what was going on when they drop their dog off, they would not bring them back. Beyond the obvious things clients would be unhappy about, employees are also treated unfairly. The shop is open two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The employees come in at 6am and sometimes don't leave til after 6pm. It does not matter if all of the days bookings are done by 3, all employees are required to stay until about that time. The shop is connected to the owners house, and after the animals are all done for the day, the employees are made to do the owners house work. Everything from doing her laundy, scrubbing her floors, cleaning her bathroom, vaccuming her living room, changing lightbulbs, sweeping her porches, even hauling her Christmas decorations down from the attic. They are made to bring her mail in pretty frequentlty, and sometimes on Wednesday, the owner will not go to the mailbox to pick up her mail, but will wait until Thursday when the employees are there to bring it in along with Thursday's. She has them make up her bed to almost military perfection each day, even though every day like clockwork she leaves the employees to run the shop while she takes a nice, long afternoon nap during the workday, while her employees barely get a rushed lunch break during which they are not even permitted to leave the store if they need to run out to get something [food, go to the bank, etc etc]. The tips that customers leave for her to share with her workers are not split at all. The other day a client left a hundred dollar tip...did she even keep 85 for herself and give her 'housekeepers' five dollars each? Of course not. Her employees are taking home 8$ an hour but can barely manage more than 25 hours a week because of her shop schedule, and she has a corvette and an escalade in her driveway and can't split even a small PERCENTAGE of the tips. Some of her clients left her Christmas cards/gifts this year...she kept the monetary ones and distributed the client's cards among the employees [I don't know if she thinks a Christmas card with a puppy on the front and a thank you inside pays the bills] ; one girl opened her card and it contained ten dollars, and upon finding out, the owner told the girl that since she didn't have any cards for herself that should would take that one back, and took the ten dollars and the card back. She cleans out her kitchen cupboards and leaves her tupperwear lying about, and then calls one of her bathers to put it away. My girlfriend was recently hospitalized after finding out she has type one diabetes, and her boss was only concerned about whether should would be at work the day after she was discharged after almost dying from insulin shock, and continually makes comments about how having to give herself insulin and checking her blood sugar [which takes all of 90seconds] 'too frequently' is 'causing problems with the business' and will jump on her case about everything from her diabetes to how often she has to go to the bathroom to how she didn't make her bed right to how she refuses to smack a dog forecefully when it moves or squirms or barks.
A lot of this has to do with employment practices, but the part about how she treats dogs would concern ANY client, were they to find out. My girlfriend doesn't want me to complain verbally, or write anything online for fear of losing her job, which she would love were her boss to not treat her like a slave, or use terms like '###' in front of her, or share tips, or not be a jerk, but I have to let people know...if someone were to consider taking their dog there or applying to work there and happened across this...it would be wrong not to say this. I certianly have not set foot in that shop with any of MY animals again. My girlfriend comes home and talks about how all her fellow employees hate their boss and only put up with it because they say 'believe it or not, she used to be worse...' and because everyone needs to pay bills [not that many are getting paid with the way she treats them financially] and that they all can't stand the way she is or the way she runs things. I feel awful because so many people are sending these cards like "Thanks for taking such good care of Fluffy!" not knowing when they leave that their poor fluffy is getting smacked around and hit with a force dryer and god only knows what else. It's also sad that these people also slave away for twelve hours straight with the most miniscule breaks, and half of the hours they work are spent doing jobs they didn't apply for--housekeeper/maid/lawncare/electrician/being someones bi*ch/slave. If her boss reads this, there's a possibility she may get fired...and I don't think she would be that dissapointed, as it isn't like she's making enough there to HALFWAY get by and pay bills anyway..
Beware this grooming shop if you're looking to have your pet taken care of in Wake Forest, NC. Do they groom well? Sure. Absolutely. Your dog will look awesome, but be traumatized, possibly beaten, or maybe left alone in a grooming noose to hang himself. You decide if it's worth it.