CLEVELAND — A local groomer accused in the hanging death of a Cleveland family’s dog has changed her plea and will enter a diversion program for first time offenders.
Kalie Balestra, 21, of Rocky River pleaded no contest to a charge of animal neglect. She was on duty at the Pet Supplies Plus in Ridge Park Square last June when Paula Schoch brought her 2-year-old Schnoodle, Nana, in for a shampoo and clip.
Balestra told Brooklyn authorities she left Nana in a groomer’s noose and stepped away to help with another dog.
Parma Municipal Judge Kenneth Spanagel approved Balestra for the diversion program. He told Fox 8 the case against the 21-year-old will be dismissed if she completes 25 hours of work service and stays out of trouble.
At the time of the incident, Pet Supplies Plus CEO Dave Bolen released the following statement:
“We sincerely apologize for the heart-breaking accident that occurred on Thursday, June 21, 2012 with one of our customer’s pets in our Brooklyn, Ohio grooming facility. We understand how very devastated the family is and our hearts go out to them. The welfare of our customers and their pets is our top priority. We are thoroughly investigating the situation as we await the results of testing to understand what happened to Nannie, and we are fully cooperating with local authorities. Although our groomer training program is comprehensive and focused on pet safety, we are instituting new, recurring retraining procedures to ensure that our staff remains fully educated. The groomer in question has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Most importantly, we continue to work closely with the family to provide support in any way we can.”