SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Surprise couple is warning pet owners their dog left the groomer Saturday evening with his eyes bloodshot and bulging.
"We never take our dogs to the groomer," said Brandon Nelson. "This is our biggest fear is having something happen. I take him for the first time, and my biggest fear came true. I just want people to know there is no way we would ever hurt anybody's animals."
Nelson said when they dropped the dog off at Dale's Grooming Saturday, Caillou's eyes were normal. It was when they picked him up, they noticed something was off.
"We were petting him and see his eyes didn't look right," said Nelson. "We showed the groomer."
Groomer Jill Hjelkrem said she had not noticed Caillou's eyes were red until the moment his owners showed her.
"They looked as if every blood vessel in the eye had ruptured, but I can't tell you how it happened," said Hjelkrem. "...I never at any point felt like there was anything that would have happened that would have caused that type of trauma, but when he did leave, we saw his eyes, and it did look like trauma."
Nelson and his wife took Caillou to two vets, hoping for answers.
"I said, 'Could it be allergies?'" said Nelson. "They said with that severity, no. He would be itching and doing other things if it were allergies. They said that's severe strangulation trauma."
Nelson showed Arizona's Family records from both vets listing strangulation as a possible cause.
The second vet record noted it could be an allergic reaction, but unlikely.
"I would not be abusive to anything or anyone, and if something had happened I definitely would have told them," said Hjelkrem.
Hjelkrem said Caillou was never on top of a table and did not fall out of the sink where she bathed him. She did put a lead on him while he was inside the kennel.
"So I don't have to reach in and get him because I don't want to reach in and get an animal that's never been groomed before, especially if he doesn't like people in his face," said Hjelkrem.
She said she brushed Caillou and clipped his nails while he was tied to a chain on the ground.
"Obviously, I failed at some point because when he left his eyes were more bloodshot than I've ever seen anybody's be, but at no point do I know where that mistake was made," said Hjelkrem.
She does not remember seeing anything out of the ordinary, saying she had her eyes on him at all times, except in the kennel.
"I can't see someone doing that maliciously," said Nelson. "She doesn't seem like that type of person. I think it was an accident... I'm just hoping this was a freak accident, and the only thing I want to come out of this is for other groomers and people to pay attention."
Hjelkrem has offered to pay for Caillou's vet bills.