Police: Grooming store owner accused of choking, kicking, and dragging dog, leading to its death

- The Cumming Police Department said they have their first case of felony animal cruelty. The woman charged with the crime, Michelle Root, owns a popular dog grooming business.

Last Saturday, Eric Francis said he went to pick up his son's dog, Meko, from Paw'sh Paws where he was getting groomed. Francis said when he walked in, Meko wasn't moving. He was told his dog had had a seizure.

"He wasn't moving at all. I walked over and put my hand near his mouth and noticed his lips and tongue were blue," said Francis.

Francis took Meko to Crestview Animal Hospital where a veterinarian said Meko was dead. Two employees of Paw'sh Paws went to police saying Meko did not have a seizure, they told police the owner of Paw'sh Paws, Michelle Root, had abused the animal.

"Allegedly the owner had the dog by a leash and was kicked multiple times in the side of the head and the dog was drug across the pet salon and was hit up against the table and washtub and was hung by the leash very gruesomely," said Deputy Chief Barrett.

Root was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty. After bonding out of jail, Root's grooming business was back open the next day.

"She's saying the dog had a seizure, so she's going to continue to proclaim her innocence," said Deputy Chief Barrett.

No one in the shop would comment, but customer Jody Engel who was picking up her dog, Opus, was surprised by the charges.

"I like her and he likes her so that's what's important to me, so I don't know, I'm stunned," said Engel.

Francis said his family is devastated by the loss of Meko. He said even their other dog, Max, is physically hurting.

"I've never seen another dog cry but that's all he does now, he walks around the house crying. I've never seen tears come from a dog but that's what's going on," said Francis.

Meko was taken to the University of Georgia’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for a necropsy.

Cumming Police said they've already been contacted by another dog owner who said her animal has physical problems after she took him to Paw'sh Paws for grooming. They are investigating that report and want any other dog owners who may have information to call them right away.

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