Ladybird was a small, gray dog from Springfield, Missouri, who is now at the center of a big controversy after a strange series of events that ended with her death.
Julie Lawson and her mother found the abandoned dog years ago.
“We found her at the Norwood, Missouri, truck stop, where she had a fresh groom and she was left with a bag of food and a toy,” Lawson told KOLR-TV. “My mom fell in love with this little dog and she decided to keep her.”
Lawson’s mother passed away in 2021, leaving Ladybird to Lawson. It was during a routine grooming appointment that trouble began brewing.
Jamie Chance, who has been grooming dogs for nearly two decades and owns The Gentle Touch Grooming, had been seeing Ladybird twice a year since 2016 for grooming.
When Lawson arrived for the appointment on Nov. 23, Ladybird was her usual self.
“Her appointment’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and I walked in — you know, she does her little run-around thing like she does in the parking lot,” Lawson said. “She’s always happy to go in there. I had never seen so many people in the salon and so many dogs.”
When she’d completed the grooming, Chance messaged Lawson to let her know she was done and she could come pick her up — but she would quite literally need to pick her up.
“She is ready,” Chance wrote, according to screen shots she posted on Facebook. “Not necessarily her best haircut; she had a lot of trouble standing.”
Lawson was shocked by the change in her little dog.
“When I got her home, I got out her blanket; she still couldn’t get out of the car,” Lawson said. “I carried her in, I tried to stand her on the blanket, and she just collapsed.”
The screen shots of the text messages between Lawson and Chance show that Lawson asked the groomer when Ladybird began having trouble standing.
“I took her back and she fell when I put her in the tub,” Chance replied. “She never would stand back up for any length of time. I cannot think of anything that happened. She never cried or acted like anything was hurt or wrong.”
Ladybird’s state continued to deteriorate until she was only taking water out of an eyedropper and wearing diapers, unable to move. An MRI revealed that her spine had been injured and was compressing her vertebrae, causing her intense pain.
Lawson said doctors suggested medications and laser therapy, but she didn’t have the funds to cover treatment. Ultimately, vets recommended that, based on the level of Ladybird’s suffering, the kindest thing to do would be to euthanize her. Lawson made the tough call just a week after the grooming appointment.
Since then, the story has taken two very different directions.
Lawson maintains that something must have happened at the groomer’s that Chance isn’t admitting to.
Chance insists that nothing seemed unusual, Ladybird never showed any signs of pain, and that she would have immediately sought medical attention if she’d thought anything was wrong.
“Nothing occurred that I considered out of the ordinary at the time,” Chance said. “Slipping in the tub is fairly common. It’s a bathtub. Dogs slip in the tub.”
“I’m very sorry about Ladybird passing.”
She said she spoke with several vets who agreed that, based on the description of events, the dog likely had a pre-existing condition that was triggered at some point during the day.
Chance’s insurance refused to cover the incident, and Lawson has filed complaints with the Missouri attorney general, the Springfield Police Department and the Better Business Bureau. She’s also pushing for regulations for groomers.
“More than one Veterinarian as well as two long time licensed groomers said this sort of injury could not have happened by a slip in a tub the distance of her own body as I’m told happened,” Lawson wrote on Facebook. “It was a spinal injury that had to [have] happened in that hour she was at the groomer!”
As Lawson’s story started to circulate and accusations started flying, Chance posted screen shots of more messages between the two of them.
“These last eleven weeks have been a living hell for me, which I am sure was the intention,” Chance wrote in a long post outlining the series of events. “The owner of Ladybird made the determination that, since the veterinarian told her that the 10-inch slip in the tub would not have herniated a disc, something else must have happened.
“She made Facebook post after Facebook post accusing me of refusing to file with insurance, having no compassion, and doing something to Ladybird and refusing to accept responsibility for it. She allowed her Facebook friends to run rampant with speculation and hateful, divisive comments.”
Despite the negative pushback Chance has gotten, The Gentle Touch Grooming Facebook page is still active, and the comments are still full of supportive and happy customers.
If you regularly use a groomer, you can set your mind at east by asking what their emergency protocol is, whether or not they have liability insurance (and if they do, what it covers), how they document accidents, how many accidents they have and whether or not there are cameras.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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