Laurie Crouch is devastated. Her 3 year old pit bull, Gooch, was killed right before her eyes. This was not a savage murder like you hear about pit bulls where the dog was shot, stabbed, tortured or set on fire.
Gooch was Laurie’s service dog. Laurie is a 23 year old disabled Michigan woman suffering from multiple sclerosis who depends on a wheelchair for mobility. While Gooch had no formal training as a service dog, he did have a very special bond with Laurie.
She rescued him as a puppy from someone who was going to sell him to a dog fighter. He rewarded her with the love and loyalty only a rescued pup can demonstrate. He happily retrieved things for her and made her everyday life easier.
How Gooch Was Killed
On October 14, 2010, Laurie had a groomer come to her home to trim Gooch’s nails. It was not the first time she had hired this groomer. “Something was different that night” said Laurie. “The groomer had a male assistant with her and both acted strangely.”
“I had a bad feeling.”
Laurie told me the groomer’s assistant — whom Laurie had never met before — refused to give her his name. As the first nail clipped was below the dog’s quick, Gooch started to struggle. The groomer and her assistant put a prong collar on Gooch and wrapped a leash around his muzzle. They lifted up the 65 pound dog by the prong collar in an attempt to make him stop struggling.
At this point Laurie told them to stop; she did not want them to finish the nail clip service. The groomer refused, telling Laurie she came all this way and she intended to finish the job and get paid. At this point both the groomer and assistant were literally sitting on Gooch to make him stop squirming. As they finished clipping his nails, he went limp and died.
By this time, Laurie had thrown herself off the sofa and dragged herself to Gooch. The groomers took the $15 fee which Laurie had placed on a nearby table and left. Not even an “I’m sorry” was muttered by either of them.
The necropsy report cited cause of death as suffocation and noted multiple organ hemorrhages, including the brain and liver. Laurie informed me in a telephone conversation that Gooch had bloody foam in his throat when the groomers left her home.
What Happened Next
Laurie’s parents were able to write down the license plate number of the vehicle the couple had driven. Once police were called and a report filed, Laurie was informed the license plate number was registered to a different vehicle than the one it was affixed to.
Laurie and her family were initially told there were no charges to be filed and if she wanted restitution, she needed to file a civil suit. An outpouring of love in the form of telephone calls, emails and an offer of a new puppy were given to Laurie.
Rebecca Arnett and Gail Landon run Giggles N’ Wiggles, a local puppy rescue organization, and have donated a black lab puppy to Laurie. They will also be paying for the neuter surgery, vaccinations, puppy training and a month’s worth of food. Laurie has named the pup Junior in honor of Gooch. Once the little guy is weaned, he will get to live with Laurie.
A call put into the Waterford (Michigan) Police Department got me connected to Lawrence Novak, the detective investigating this case. Novak informed me that the case is still under investigation. He has been in touch with Jessica R. Cooper’s office — the prosecuting attorney for Oakland County, Michigan. More information was requested by Cooper’s office and Novak reports he expects to have a decision sometime next week whether or not the office will prosecute the groomer. The groomer remains unnamed to date because no charges have yet been filed.
Take Action: Sign the Care2 petition asking for formal charges of the groomer who killed Gooch.
Photo of Laurie and Gooch courtesy of Laurie Crouch