A two-year-old Golden Retriever named Colby died at a Petco in Midlothian, Virginia on 29 May 2015 after he was left in a grooming cage and apparently suffered fatal heatstroke.

Allison Marks, 51, said she dropped Colby off at the Petco store early in the morning for a grooming appointment. Marks expected a phone call by noon the same day to notify her when could retrieve her pet, but when no call came she contacted the store and was advised to instead to go a local animal hospital.

Marks told ABC that she didn’t know why Colby was at the animal hospital, and she was stunned and heartbroken to learn he’d died:

“They didn’t even tell me why I had to go there, just that one of the managers would meet me there,” said Marks, 51, a food operations manager at the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center. “I walked into it blind.”

She said she walked in and saw Colby on the vet’s table with “glazed over” eyes. Marks said the Petco assistant manager told her they had given Colby a bath and he was in the drying unit when they found him.

“I just started screaming. Colby was my everything,” she said, noting that the vet said Colby had been dead for at least 45 minutes “and his temperature was still above 105 degrees.”

The circumstances under which Colby died did not seem to be in dispute. ABC said the groomer who placed the dog in the dryer left work early to attend a party, apparently neglecting to retrieve Colby before departing.

On 1 June 2015, Petco responded to a number of queries about the dog’s death. In a post titled “In Response to the Midlothian, VA, Grooming Incident,” a user on the Petco website named PetcoBlogger wrote:

All of us at Petco remain deeply upset by Colby’s passing. We have strict protocols in place to ensure the well-being of pets in our grooming salons, and we take it very seriously when those protocols are not followed. The groomers involved have been suspended while we complete a thorough investigation, and we are in contact with the pet parents and coordinating with local Animal Services to understand what happened in this terrible situation. It’s important to know we do not use heated dryers in any Petco grooming salons, and we can confirm there was no heat used in the drying process during Colby’s groom, but other details are still being investigated.

Our thoughts continue to be with Colby’s family at this difficult time.

In an earlier tweet, Petco said:

All of us at Petco are heartbroken by Colby’s passing. The health and safety of pets is always our top priority and we take full responsibility for all animals under our care. We are taking immediate action to investigate and understand the situation. Our thoughts are with Colby’s family at this very difficult time.

Petco pledged to investigate the incident and post updates to their website. Marks, who adopted Colby to cope with her husband’s passing, told ABC that she was considering legal action against Petco over Colby’s death.