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Venice dog groomer accused of injuring dogs

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VENICE, FL (WWSB) - A pet groomer with more than five decades of experience is now being accused of injuring several dogs. The owner of Happy Puppy Pet Spa says she's at the center of multiple investigations by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office after a recent video surfaced on social media.

The video, taken on Friday, November 10, has been seen by nearly 200-thousand people in 48 hours on Facebook.

"I wasn't surprised. I was out of my mind," said Cynthia Crowe of when she saw the video on Saturday.

Crowe said the video is a very small piece of a larger puzzle. Just two weeks prior, she picked up her dog Pumpkin from the Happy Puppy Pet Spa, to learn he suffered a broken jaw, abdominal bruising, and damage to his ears while at the groomers.

"I'm suffering thinking of what she could've been doing to my dog and what she did to my dog," said Crowe, of her dog Pumpkin.

"I do not hurt animals. I love them," said Phyllis Lucca, owner of the Happy Puppy Pet Spa in Venice.

Lucca said she has never intentionally hurt her dog in her 54 years as a groomer. She said Pumpkin was fine when she finished his grooming. She came back ten minutes later to find the injured Yorkie-poo. According to Lucca, the dog in the video, Bridget, passed out because she was stressed while getting groomed.

"I'm not choking the dog. I'm just holding her head. I just do a fast snap and she comes right back," said Lucca of Bridget when she passed out, which she said happens regularly.

The pet spa's phone was ringing off the hook with messages from animal rights activists from across the country.

Lucca said she is now the subject of two investigations by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office: one after Crowe made a statement about Pumpkin's condition, and another against a former employee, who took the video.

"I can't stand to see that again because I can't stand to see her choking the dog," said Crowe of the video.

Crowe said Pumpkin will have to keep his mouth closed by a muzzle for the next eight to twelve weeks, and he can't open his mouth to eat, bark, or yawn. She wants this to be a lesson for other pet owners: do extensive research before choosing a groomer.

"He's never, ever going to a groomer. I'm going to learn how to groom him now," explained Crowe.

A local veterinarian, Dr. Alan Glassman, said it's okay for professionals to moderately shake a dog while performing CPR, but vigorous shaking can hurt the animal.

We reached out to the sheriff's office to get more information on the case, but it could not be reached for comment since it's the weekend.