When Hanna Pellissier stopped by an Atlanta Petco to pick up some toys for her two cats on Sunday, she was expecting a routine visit. But when the 22-year-old with a history of caring for abused animals peered into the store window, she was shocked by what she saw.

“It seemed to escalate,” Pellissier told The Washington Post. “At first, he was hitting the table and then I saw him getting more and more rough. Pretty quickly it became infuriating to watch.”

What she was watching was a Petco groomer become increasingly physical with a large black dog in plain view of the public.

Unsure of what to do, Pellissier whipped out her smart phone and began filming the employee through her car window. The groomer never seemed to notice that anyone was watching, she said, not even when he began aggressively tugging on the dog’s leg while the animal yelped in pain, prompting Pellissier to stop filming and rush inside to intervene.

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“I went inside, cut several people in line and told a cashier, ‘He’s going to pull the leg off that dog if you don’t stop him,'” she told The Post. “I have two rescue animals that have experienced abuse and it was difficult to see something like this right in front of my eyes.”

A store manager eventually told Pellissier that he would talk to the groomer. He didn’t seem particularly apologetic or upset, she said. She went home and posted the video on Facebook, with the following description:

Today I witnessed a Petco employee attempting to groom a dog. He was trying to cut his nails and the dog pulled his paw away. The employee then started smacking the table and then pulling hard on the dogs leg. The poor dog was panicking and trying to get away. The employee just kept pulling on him. I told the manager and he said “I’ll try to say something to him”. I’ve spoken with the customer service line and hope that they will do something about this employee. He should NOT be anywhere near the animals at that store. This video was taken on 3/1/15 at approximately 5:20pm at the Petco on Roswell Road in Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia.

The video quickly received more than 1,300 shares, and Pellissier was contacted by Petco’s corporate office, whom she described as “very helpful.”

On Tuesday, Petco released the following statement on its Web site:

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At Petco, the health and safety of pets and people is always our top priority, and we take full responsibility for all animals under our care. There are strict grooming protocols in place to ensure the safety and well-being of pets, and we are very concerned by the conduct of the groomer in this video. As such, after a thorough investigation, this employee is no longer at Petco. We are in contact with both the concerned individual who took the video and the pet parent and can confirm that the dog is home and in good health.
We appreciate the outreach from the pet community, and look forward to continuing to serve you. Please continue to reach out to us if you have any additional questions or concerns.
Warm regards,
The Petco Family

Pellissier said she has mixed emotions about the incident. She’s pleased the video was widely shared, but she doesn’t want to demonize Petco — only to make pet owners more aware of their pets’ well-being.

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“It’s good for people who own pets to think about where you’re dropping them off,” she told The Post. “On the other hand, there’s a lot of people who have jumped on the ‘Let’s boycott Petco’ bandwagon. Something needed to be done with this one guy, but it’s important to remember that it can happen anywhere.”

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