A Benton business owner is fighting back after a customer made allegations of animal abuse against a dog groomer.
After an incident at the Malvern location of Shampoochies, a disgruntled customer wrote a post on Facebook blaming the business for her dog's injury. Laura Pritchard, owner of Shampoochies, said the customer has lied about the incident and the post — which was shared more than 300 times — has negatively affected her business.
"This is so detrimental to a business. We have worked hard on establishing ourselves not only in Benton but coming into Malvern as well. Shampoochies is a great company. We have great groomers … for this to happen is just awful," Pritchard said in a video statement.
Pritchard, through her attorney, Ethan Nobles of Benton, filed a civil suit in Hot Spring County Circuit Court on Tuesday against the customer and others.
According to the suit, Bayleah Leighann King brought her dog to the business on Oct. 16. While giving the dog a bath, the groomer, Pritchard's employee, noticed that the dog's harness had been imbedded in the neck of animal causing injury. After bathing the dog, the employee notified the owner and met her with the dog at a nearby veterinarian's office for treatment.
According to notes from Nall Animal Clinic obtained from Pritchard, the animal's injury included "neck cut open 4 inches. Open wound under neck, cut is through the skin into 1/2 of muscle, scar tissue 1 1/2 on either side of wound."
Following the incident, Bayleah Leighann King, as well as Misty Dawn King and Haley Alexis Robbins, who are all named in the suit, published posts on Facebook blaming the business for the injury, according to the suit.
"Such post were widely circulated on Facebook, and, as such, caused people to cancel appointments with Shampoochies Dog Grooming number 4 (Malvern) and other grooming facilities owned by the plaintiff. Furthermore, the allegations in the aforementioned posts caused established customers of grooming facilities owned by the Plaintiffs to pledge they would take their dogs to be groomed elsewhere," according to the suit.
On Oct. 19, the groomer only had one dog appointment even though Saturdays are usually the busiest day for the business, Pritchard told The Saline Courier.
The Malvern Police Department, in a statement online, supported the business owner's recollection of the incident.
"After consultations with a local vet, they believed the injury was preexisting and caused from an imbedded harness," according to the department.
In the suit, the business claims the statements made about the company are "libelous" and "defamatory in nature." In response, the owners have requested compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney's fees.
When ask about the suit, Pritchard said she is fighting back for all groomers.
"For all groomers across the world, I will not back down from cyber bullying. I hope that y'all can continue to support Shampoochies," she said.
Pritchard has been a dog groomer for 15 years. She opened her business Benton in 2015. After having several clients mention driving from Malvern to the Benton location, she recently decided to open another location in Malvern.
Pritchard opened the Malvern location with co-owner Tonya Clark in early July. The owners have a grand opening celebration scheduled for Saturday at the business located 1418 Potts St. in Malvern.