MOUNT LAUREL, NJ (CBS) – It was an agonizing situation for a local mother.
Lisa Bethune says her six-year-old daughter, Gracie, was forced to get rabies shots after she was bitten by a dog inside a PetSmart.
“If they were forthright with the information from the beginning, it would have prevented her from having to get the rabies shots,” Bethune said.
Bethune is referring to the Petsmart store in Mount Laurel’s Centerton Square Shopping Center. That’s where Gracie told her mother she was bitten by a dog.
Gracie explained, “There was a lady, I asked if I could pet the dog and she said ok and then it growled at me and then it bit me.”
“I look up and she’s running to me and she was hysterical,” Bethune added.
Bethune maintains it happened the minute she looked away from Gracie and just as quickly, she says the dog and its owner were gone. Bethune says the store manager provided her with a first-aid kit along with an explanation.
“If the dog is not in there for training or grooming, then they’re not liable,” Bethune said.
Gracie added, “It hurt worse.”
Gracie is talking about the rabies shots. She has since recovered, but her mother is still angry. She’s angry because she says the store manager initially refused to help her find the dog owner even when police were called.
Bethune said, “I told him, when police come here we can just look at the surveillance video. He tells me there isn’t. Well, I said, then how can we find out who this person is? And he says ‘well, I don’t know.’”
Bethune says she contacted the PetSmart corporate office and even the property owner for answers to no avail. But days after Gracie had gotten the rabies shots, Bethune says PetSmart gave up the dog owner’s information. Bethune believes that happened because she returned to the store with a camera and found no signs indicating how shoppers are protected.
“So by the time I got home, not even 10 minutes from PetSmart, the store manager called asking me if I was in the store. I said yes, I was taking pictures of the front of the store to see where this disclosure was posted and he goes, well we found the dog owner and so he subsequently gave me the information. I gave it to the police officer and I have the information to my pediatrician and she said, ok, the dog was vaccinated that day,” Bethune said.
In response, PetSmart released the following statement:
“We continue to investigate the incident and are cooperating with the pet parent as well as the police who are conducting their own investigation. The investigation began immediately after store management provided first aid to the child’s thumb. Unfortunately, there were no witnesses to the incident making it difficult to identify the dog. However, information that may assist the police in identifying the dog has been provided to the police.”
Bethune says she is now exploring her legal options.
Reported By Elizabeth Hur, CBS Philly