The day got off to a great start for Jill and her staff. All the dogs had arrived on time and things at the salon were going smoothly. Unfortunately, it was about to become a day that none of them will ever forget…
Sweet little Corky the Yorkie was there for his monthly appointment. When his stylist, Emma, was finished with his groom, Jill called his owners.
“Great, I’ve been waiting for your call,” said his dad, Paul. “We’re only a few blocks away at my mother-in-laws. We will be right there.”
Jill stepped back into the salon and said, “Emma, Corky’s owners will be here in a few minutes. You can bring him out into the reception area.”
“Okay,” Emma replied. “I will put his collar and lead on him and bring him right out.”
Jill went out front to the reception desk. As Emma and Corky walked into the reception area, a mighty gust of wind blew open the entrance door to the salon, which apparently hadn’t shut tight when the last person went out. When the door flew open, it banged loudly and spooked Corky. He jumped backward and his collar slipped over his head. Then a frightened Corky bolted out the open door and headed toward the busy street.
Panicked, Jill and Emma ran after him. Corky’s owners had just pulled into the parking lot. They jumped out of their car and joined the chase. Ignoring their calls to him, Corky kept running. Several blocks later, they lost sight of him.
Search teams were immediately formed. The local radio station, newspaper, humane society and all the local veterinarians were called to get the word out. Jill quickly had posters made with Corky’s picture on them and began putting them up all around the area. The owners saturated social media with Corky’s picture and pleas for his return. A specialist in lost dogs was contacted and was soon there to spearhead the search. Humane traps baited with food were set up and cameras were placed in strategic locations.
Jill and the owners wanted to offer a large reward to anyone who could find Corky, but the specialist cautioned them against it. One of the reasons was that when money is involved, everyone and their uncle turns out to search for the pet. The overwhelming number of people shouting and tramping around often frightens the pet even more.
Corky’s owners and Jill and Emma continued to look for Corky day and night. Despite their best efforts, Corky eluded them all. After five torturous days, the hunt came to an end. Corky was hit by a car and killed instantly on a street just a few blocks from the salon. The owners were devastated, as were Jill and Emma. They had all done everything they could, but now precious little Corky was dead.
Jill thought the layout of her salon was safe and secure before “The Corky Incident.” She had been in business for eight years and never had anything like this happen before. She had double-door security—the entry door which opened into the reception area and a second door that separated the grooming salon from the reception area. Having two doors is highly recommended in pet care facilities to help prevent dogs from escaping. However, because someone did not close the main entry door completely, a tragic chain of events followed.
This freak accident sent Jill on a mission to make sure nothing like this would ever happen again. She immediately had automatic door-closers installed on all the doors. Her reception area was redesigned to create a secure check-in /release area. It is basically a small room that connects the reception area and the grooming salon. Now Jill essentially has a three-door system to keep all the dogs safe.
When a pet and their owner come into the business, they are greeted in the reception area and then immediately go through a second door into the check-in area. After the stylist and owner discuss the pet’s groom, the stylist takes the pet through door number three into the grooming room. When the pet is finished and ready to go home, the procedure is reversed, and the owner takes them out of the building.
Corky had been groomed at Jill’s salon his entire life, and his owners loved and trusted her and her staff. While they were heartbroken, they knew that what happened to their sweet Corky was an accident, and did not blame Jill. Although Corky was irreplaceable, Jill was able to lessen some of the pain that came with his passing.
When Jill opened her salon, she contacted an insurance company that specialized in the pet services industry. The agent explained what types of coverage she should have to protect herself, her employees and the pets she cares for. Because Jill had the specialized insurance, it covered the cost of a new pup for the family and also all the costs associated with the search for Corky.
We all know that bad news travels fast, and that was especially true in Corky’s case. Jill’s business took a real hit because of this incident. As soon as the lost dog flyers were put up, nasty posts began to appear on social media accusing Jill’s salon of negligence for “allowing” Corky to escape. Unfounded accusations and misinformation was rampant. Jill was devastated. Eventually her business recovered, but the pain of that day and what happened to Corky still haunts her.
Could a similar incident happen at your business? Having a dog escape while in your care and then get killed is one of the worst things that can happen to a groomer.
Here are two things you should do right now that can help prevent a similar incident in your business:
- Call your insurance agent and review your coverage. Oftentimes, general agents do not specialize in pet services insurance and may not fully understand your needs. Whatever company you choose to insure with, it is vital to have adequate coverage that protects your clients, the pets you groom, you and your employees, and your place of business.
- Take a look at your workplace. From the equipment and tools that you use to the building (or mobile unit) itself, are there things you can do to make it safer?
In this case, something as simple as an automatic door-closer could have prevented “The Corky Incident.” ✂️