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Springfield groomer is fired after she throws dog into wall, killing it

couple is devastated

The owners of an 8-pound, 3-and-a-half-year-old Maltese call her death murder.

September 06, 2013|by Joanna Small, KSPR News | Reporter and Photographer

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A couple is devastated after their dog died during a grooming session at a local veterinary clinic.  They call it murder.

It was supposed to be just a standard grooming.  This dog had seen this groomer twice before.  Now the groomer is out of a job and the dog is dead.
At 4:30 Thursday at the Calhouns' house, it was dinner time for the early birds but nobody was hungry.  That's because of an empty place under the table.  That's where Darby used to sit.

"I know she was a little dog, I know she's not a child, but to us she was a child," said Barbara Calhoun as she sat beside her husband, Bill.

They say what happened to their 3-and-a-half-year-old Maltese is child abuse.

"She was murdered.  It's hard, very hard.  He's not slept, we've not slept," she said.

They took Darby to the groomer on Wednesday morning but she never got groomed.

"Got a call about 9 o'clock from the vet and he said Darby had been hurt, she wasn't in good condition.  He told me she was on oxygen full, pulmonary contusions, and there was bruising and bleeding on the lungs," Barbara said, reading from a notepad where she jotted it down during the phone call.

It wasn't until Barbara and Bill got to Spring Valley Veterinary Hospital that they learned why.

"I said, 'What happened?  What happened?' and the doctor said, 'Well, she was thrown against the wall.'"

The groomer said Darby attacked her when she reached into the dog's cage.

"I don't know exactly what happened but she tossed the dog away, evidentally with enough force to cause some pretty severe injuries," said Dr. Ted Betzen.

The Calhouns made it in time to see Darby die.

"I laid down on the floor and I just screamed," Barbara said with tears running down her face as she relived it.

Clinic owner Dr. Betzen says everyone at Spring Valley, including the groomer who was let go on Thursday morning, is just as devastated.

"I know she felt horrible immediately.  She regretted it tremendously," he said. 


He also says what she did was wrong.

"I'm not going to condone what she did; she did overreact.  You can understand it but you can't excuse it.  It's inexcusable what she did."

Barbara and Bill aren't ready to forgive.  At 4:30, when they were supposed to be having dinner, they instead were visiting Darby's grave.

"Why, why?" they asked.  "She said she feared for her life so [she] threw her, and I don't know, feared for a life from a little eight-pound dog?"
The Calhouns say Darby had never bitten anyone before, and they didn't see any bite marks on the groomer, but Betzen says he did.  He says she was bleeding, so much so that it got on the dog.
The Springfield-Greene County Health Department, not Springfield police, handles cases like this one, but neither the Calhouns nor the clinic called them.

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