Maryville woman's dog loses ears after grooming mishap

MARYVILLE (WATE) - A Maryville dog owner didn't know what was wrong with her little Maltese until she looked at the dog's ears. A little more than a week after going to the groomer, the dog's ears were black. The vet had to amputate them because the circulation had stopped.

All dogs require some grooming to stay happy and healthy. For lower maintenance breeds, this can mean just a quick rubdown, checks of eyes and ears, a bath and nail trim now and then. While seven out of 10 pet owners report grooming their dog themselves, another 30 percent prefer to go to professional groomers.

That's what Patricia Self did. She also preferred the lustrous hair of her bouncy female dog to be adorned with bows. For the last several years, Meggie has worn bows attached by Self's groomer.

Until last month, Self was pleased with the service. But she noticed Meggie acting strangely a week after her last grooming appointment in early January. That's when Self checked Meggie's ears.

"One of her ears was all matted up and it was real hard. I started looking at her ear then. She clipped one bow off that was affected," she said.

By January 19, Meggie was at Countryside Small Animal Hospital. Dr. Monica Webb said when she examined Meggie's ears, it appeared that rubber bands had been put around her ears.

"Instead of just getting them in the hair, they actually got them around the pinna, or the ear flap, and basically caused her ears to die off and fall off," said Webb.

At the vet's office, dead tissue was removed from the ears. There was laser surgery to help heal the wounds and Meggie was given antibiotics. The vet says she'll be okay, but this could have been avoided.

"Making sure those rubber bands don't get around the ear itself. Making sure they're just in the hair alone," she said.

Meggie's male companion Rocky has flowing locks of luxurious hair covering his ears, just like all dogs of that breed. While Rocky never wore bows in his ears, there is a tuft of hair where the bows are normally tied.

"With Meggie's it got encased in the pink part of the ear and cut the circulation off," said Self.

Self had taken Meggie to Concord Pet Grooming and School, a state certified school for 20 years. Owner Susan Porterfield at first agreed to speak to WATE 6 On Your Side in person, but then changed her mind.

In an email, Porterfield said she "didn't know what happened" to Meggie, but said "the bows were attached to the hair on top of her head next to each ear." Porterfield says she "doesn't understand why Mrs. Self waited 11 days to seek help" for the dog.

Concord Pet Grooming says it "stands behind their student groomers" and "always checks their work before a dog leaves."  Self had been taking both dogs to Porterfield's school for nine years and says there had never been a problem with Meggie's bows before.

"I kind of, in my own way, regret I didn't check them. I just assumed they were okay which is the wrong thing to do," Self said.

In her message, Susan Porterfield wrote: "I know the student did not put the rubber bands around the dog's ears." Self says at first she wasn't sure that the groomer's shop would accept responsibility or pay for the vet bill, but Dr. Webb said she received full payment from the groomer the day that Meggie was released.

Self says she'll never put bows on her dogs' ears again.

"No, no way. No, leave the bows off, don't put them on there. It's not worth it. They're cute on the dogs, but it's a nightmare for me," she said.

Porterfield reiterated that Concord School of Grooming always stands behind it's work. The school has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Self says if you have bows put on your dog. check to make sure everything is okay.


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