PAINESVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Gracie, a six-year-old Newfoundland dog, was a bona fide part of the Tousel family, where furry members with four feet outnumber the ones with two.
"Everybody loved Gracie," said Cindi Tousel, Gracie's owner. "She ran this backyard. Played with the deer, the bunnies, the squirrels. This was her life."
On Saturday, Tousel walked a happy, healthy Gracie into the Mentor PetSmart for her usual grooming. But when she picked her up, Gracie was very sick. The first clue was her excessive drooling.
"Her gait was off. Hard to put one foot in front of the other. She took 15 steps and collapsed on the floor," Tousel said.
She rushed Gracie to the Emergency vet clinic in Mentor. Her body temperature was 109 degrees.
"I don't understand. I don't know what goes on back there. I assumed because the store where you shop is comfortable, that in the back where the animals are it's the same way," Tousel said.
Newfoundlands are especially sensitive to heat. For Gracie, it was fatal.
"Internal organ failure. Brain swelling. Internal bleeding," said Tousel.
The veterinarian's analysis said it was a heat-related death.
"The vet a month ago gave her a clean bill of health. There was nothing wrong with my gentle giant," Tousel explained.
We contacted PetSmart who said they are investigating. They sent us the following statement:
"The safety and well-being of the pets in our care is our top priority. We are conducting a full investigation into this incident and will take appropriate action based on our findings."
The Tousel family hopes that the death of their beloved Gracie will lead to changes that will keep dogs safe when they are taken in to be groomed.
"Only thing that's going to help is if it doesn't happen to anyone else who loves their dog the way we loved our Gracie," Tousel pleads. "Because this was a senseless tragedy that didn't need to happen."
19 Action News will follow up on this story and the investigation conducted by PetSmart.