A PetSmart worker in San Mateo was arrested after a 1-year-old dachshund died following a grooming session, police said Monday.
Juan Zarate, 38, of San Francisco was working Sunday at the pet supply store in the 3500 block of South El Camino Real when the dog was dropped off to be groomed, according to the San Mateo Police Department.
Three minutes later, Zarate walked out of the grooming office holding the dog and told the 47-year-old owner that his dog was suffering a medical emergency.
"The dog was visibly bleeding from the mouth and having trouble breathing," police said in a statement.
An on-site veterinarian immediately noticed the dog was struggling to breathe and tried to provide emergency measures.
But it was too late.
The small dog with a reddish, brown coat died minutes later.
An X-ray performed later showed it had two broken ribs and a punctured lung, police said.
Officers determined Zarate's actions were deliberate and likely contributed to the dog's death, police said. He was taken into custody on suspicion of felony animal cruelty.
The Peninsula Humane Society will perform a necropsy on the dog to determine a cause of death.
"This is a tragic case of animal cruelty and thus, led to decisive action in the arrest of the alleged offender," police said. "As you know, the pets in our community can't speak for themselves, so it's inherent on all of us to be alert to the signs and symptoms of animal cruelty and neglect."
Zarate was suspended from work while PetSmart conducts an internal investigation into the dog's death.
"We are heartbroken by the loss of Henry," PetSmart spokeswoman Michelle Friedman said. "Nothing is more important than the health and safety of pets, and we take full responsibility for the pets in our care."
PetSmart said it is working with police and will take immediate action on any findings made.
"Any incident of animal cruelty goes against everything we believe as a company and as individual pet parents," she said. "No words can express our deep sorrow for the family, and we will continue to work with the pet parent during this difficult time."
Zarate posted bond and was released from custody Monday night. He is scheduled to return to court on June 23, San Mateo County District Atty. Steve Wagstaffe said.
Prosecutors are reviewing the case to determine whether charges will be filed against him.
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9:32 a.m.: This article has been updated with comments from PetSmart and the San Mateo County district attorney's office.