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.