An Otsego County pet grooming facility is under fire after an animal died during a routine bath and nail-trimming appointment over the weekend.

Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin confirmed Monday an ongoing investigation into complaints of the death of an animal that occurred in the custody of a vendor over the weekend.

He declined to identify the parties by name, but said the facility was cooperating with investigators and the animal’s owner was making arrangements to submit the body for a post-mortem examination.

Calling for justice for the animal, family members of its owner circulated an online petition that garnered nearly 1,500 signatures, and a Facebook post detailing the claims was shared more than 2,600 times in less than 48 hours.

Cambridge resident Renee Snell told The Daily Star on Monday a dog belonging to her son died in apparent accident during a Saturday grooming appointment at the Oneonta Petco in the Southside Mall.

Sarge, a neutered male less than a year old, served as an emotional support companion to Snell’s son, a college student in Oneonta who she said suffers from anxiety.

Snell said the family took in the dog as a foster rescue in September and her son formally adopted the dog in October. She claimed the dog did not display visible signs of illness or injury prior to the incident.

Petco store associates have been accommodating during the investigation, Snell said, but refused to release video footage of the incident.

A manager at the Oneonta Petco declined to comment, and corporate representatives issued the following statement Monday evening:

“All of us at Petco are heartbroken by Sarge’s untimely passing. The health and safety of pets is always our top priority and we take full responsibility for every animal that walks through our doors. We have strict protocols in place to ensure the well-being of all pets in our care, and after a thorough investigation of this situation, we’ve learned that some of those protocols were not followed. As pet parents and animal lovers ourselves, we understand there is no way to make up for the loss of a pet, but in an effort to help, we’re covering Sarge’s vet expenses and working closely with his pet parents to help find a new pet when they are ready. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Sarge’s family during this very difficult time.”

“We are just looking for answers on what happened to Sarge and to maybe keep this from happening to another dog owner,” Snell said. “I thank everyone for their expressions of condolence but also would ask anyone out there who’s making threatening phone calls to please stop and let this investigation take its natural course.”

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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