A dog groomer who was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty last week following the death of a dog at her local pet grooming and bathing company is now facing additional felony charges stemming from a separate incident that resulted in a dog being euthanized due to “a ruptured spleen and eye trauma.”
Michelle Louise Root, 41, of Gainesville, who is the owner of Paw’sh Paws in Cumming, turned herself in to the Forsyth County Jail around 8:30 p.m. Oct. 18, hours after Cumming police officers executed two search warrants simultaneously on Root’s business and home, according to law enforcement officials.
Officers were “looking for documents and records to corroborate the stories” of other possible victims, according to Deputy Chief Aletha Barrett, spokeswoman for the department.
Root posted bond and was released from the jail shortly after midnight Oct. 19.According to documents obtained by the Forsyth County News, Root’s most recent charge was filed based on an incident in March 2016 in which she “did knowingly and maliciously cause the death or physical harm to an animal by rendering a part of such animal’s body useless or by seriously disfiguring such animal.”
Disturbing details add, “Michelle Root did, while having the victim’s dog in her care, cause a ruptured spleen and eye trauma leading to the dog being euthanized.”
More recently, Root is accused of choking, kicking in the head and “[bouncing] Meko [the dog] off the wall,” on Oct. 7 during its grooming session, Paw'sh Paws employee Heather Boyd told Cumming police officers.
Root was initially charged with felony animal cruelty to animals on Oct. 11 after several witnesses filed reports with the Cumming Police Department following the dog's death, according to law enforcement records.
Barrett said the new charge comes in response to other reports by potential victims.
“We have received multiple phone calls from other potential victims that reach all the way back to the early 2000s,” she said. “We are still waiting on veterinarian reports and a lot of different things in terms of the investigation, but the complaints [go back to] 2003 when she worked at PetSmart.
“We’re following up on other leads and are waiting on some other people to come in and make statements but a lot of the things we got [Wednesday] in the search warrants should help us.”
Witnesses, who work at the pet spa and did not want to be identified, told police last week they saw Root “kick Meko twice, knocking Meko into the door, [take] the lead and choke Meko to the point of unconsciousness” after the dog ran to the back of the store with the grooming lead still around its neck.
“[The witness] said Root then dragged Meko to the front of the store, banging Meko against the washer and other objects before throwing Meko on the table and attempting to finish Meko’s grooming,” an incident report said. “[The witness] said Meko was unresponsive at this point."
The report said when a friend of Meko’s owner, Eric Francis, came to pick up the dog, he was told that the dog, “must have had a seizure.”
One of the witnesses said when she questioned Root’s story, she was told, “to be quiet, that the dog had a seizure and that was it.”
Francis told FCN that when he went to retrieve Meko, Root and staff told him that the dog was “just really relaxed,” but that Root was, in fact, “grooming a dead dog on their table.”
Paw’sh Paws re-opened briefly after Root bonded out of jail after the first charges were filed, but closed once the incident became public. Demonstrators have been protesting in front of it almost daily.
Barrett said the Cumming Police Department is following up with other reported incidents and additional charges may be pending the result of further investigations.
Root’s attorney, Rafe Banks, of Banks, Stubbs and McFarland, LLP, told the FCN “we deny any guilt or criminal intent.”