Family heartbroken after dog dies following trip to DC groomer

A family in Adams Morgan is grieving after a trip to the groomer left their dog dead. The incident is now under investigation, but the owner wants answers. 

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It happened at Life of Riley. Matthew Knopp tells FOX 5 he brought his dog, Stardust, to the business to have two nails clipped earlier this month, but 30 minutes later, a technician came out in panic, handing him Stardust’s body. 

"All of the sudden he comes running out of the room, ‘sir, sir, sir there’s something wrong with your dog. Sir, your dog is having a seizure,’" Knopp told FOX 5. "And at that point, I’m like, ‘what do you mean my dog is having a seizure? What? Like what’s wrong with my dog?’"

Knopp says Stardust was a little anxious when he brought her to get her two nails clipped, but that was not unusual.

"She’s a nervous dog," Knopp said. "I explained to them she’s really anxious. She’s been like that since she was a puppy."

He waited in the lobby just like he’s done in the past but knew something was odd when the tech came running out of the room towards the upstairs.

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"A gentlemen came running out of the grooming area running upstairs. As he ran by me he kind of said, ‘has your dog never had her nails trimmed before?’ and I said ‘yeah, she’s gotten them here’. it was just kind of in passing though."

Knopp still didn't think much of it until the man came back down, went into the room then came running out again.

"So I kind of run up to him, he puts her in my arms and I’m like, ‘Stardust, Stardust,’ and there’s nothing there," Knopp said. "Her tongue is blue and purple. It’s hanging out of her mouth. There’s no life in her. It’s like if someone put a wet rag in your arms." 

They ran down the street to the vet but it was too late. Stardust was dead. 

"I’m like, ‘what did you do to my dog?’ They were like, ‘we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything.’"

In a statement, Life of Riley told FOX 5 the dog died of a heat stroke.

"We are devastated this happened, and our hearts and condolences go out to the dog’s family. We at Life of Riley remain committed to the health and safety of every pet in our care, and this heartbreaking event is a reminder to us all about the impact this summer heat has on our furry friends. We take this event very seriously and will continue to investigate how this beloved pet passed away so unexpectedly."

But Knopp says that can't be true, especially since he only walked her half a block to get there. He also said he noticed after she died that every nail — but the two they wanted to be trimmed — were cut extremely short and uneven. 

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"We’re just kind of lost trying to figure out what happened. What went wrong in this room where she was there for two nails and now she’s not alive." 

He says the family, including Stardust’s sister Ziggy, is left with a huge void.

"It’s awful. I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. I don't want anybody to feel what I had to feel that morning. It's the worst. I can’t put it up with any other feeling I’ve ever felt." 

Knopp’s post on Nextdoor has dozens of comments from people who have also experienced issues here. The Humane Rescue Alliance is investigating the incident.