A DEVASTATED couple are claiming their dog died after overheating during a grooming session at Pets at Home in Falmouth.
Laura and Stephen Bell, from Sithney near Helston, took three-year-old bulldog Fatty to the Groom Room at the Ponsharden store in June as a treat, after she had recently delivered a litter of puppies.
But when Laura, who runs a beauty business in Penryn, returned to collect Fatty and two other dogs, she claims she found her pet “obviously struggling to breath... gasping for breath and it was clear something was very wrong.”
She claimed this week that: “She had overheated and it had gone unnoticed. 
“A practically empty and hair ridden bowl of water was offered. The girls in the groomers were completely unaware that she could not breathe and I am unsure of how long she had been in this state. To get as bad as she was when I arrived, she had to have been like that for a long time.”
Fatty was taken to the vet's surgery in the same building, while Laura called Stephen who rushed from his Penzance barbershop.
He told the Packet: “They were just fighting for her life on the table.
“By the time I got there she was still alive but it was obvious what was going to happen.
“When I got there I was in hysterics. I sat on the steps, bawling my eyes out."
Laura said: “This could have been so easily prevented and was so easily spotted. She was 44 degrees."
The couple say they want to know what happened to make Fatty overheat, and how long she was in the state without staff noticing.
After months of legal correspondence, Pets at Home offered the Bells £2,000 compensation for Fatty’s death plus £500 towards a charity of their choice, but with the proviso that they did not tell any third party or share the matter on social media.
While in monetary terms this was the most they could have expected, Stephen said he told the company to “stick the money,” as he wanted to warn others about the store.
In the letter to the couple, Pets at Home had said said that Fatty - who’s registered name was Dolly - had “a combination of conditions that would have been significant factors in her collapse.” 
The company later expanded on this by saying bulldogs are susceptible to having breathing difficulties due to being bred for short noses, which can be exacerbated by being overweight, and this coupled with a period of very hot weather can make them unwell.
However Stephen said that Fatty was in good health, as had been shown in recent tests taken during her pregnancy.
He added: “When it happened I went through all the emotions, blaming myself for taking her there, and all the guilt and anger. It was absolutely awful.
“I’ve got two young children and I couldn’t tell them for four days, I was too upset to talk about it.”
The company said in a statement: “We were all upset to hear of Fatty’s untimely death.”
It said the company had initiated a thorough investigation and provided the couple a detailed report of Fatty’s time in the Groom Room and, “at no point were the dogs left unattended in the groom room, which is air-conditioned,” while staff “acted responsibly and professionally throughout.”
“Colleagues in our Groom Room salons are all highly trained and able to recognise signs of distress when they occur.
“The care we provided in the groom room would not, in itself, be responsible for her death. Unfortunately without a post mortem, which was refused by the owners, the cause of Fatty’s death cannot be definitively stated.
“Being pet lovers ourselves, we do recognise the distress that the Bell family would have experienced which is why we made this goodwill gesture in July. We advised Fatty’s owners to seek independent legal advice and having done so they recently indicated that they wished to accept this offer, only changing their position upon receipt of the final settlement letter." 
“We are obviously disappointed that Fatty’s owners have chosen to portray our correspondence in the manner they have, and intimate that this is the only correspondence between us.”