Last July, Sherrilyn Miller dropped her two-year-old emotional support Maltese-shih tzu mix, Winter, off at the PetSmart in San Leandro, California, to be bathed and groomed.

But when she picked Winter up, she had no idea that she would end up having to rush her to the vet for emergency surgery.

Miller paid extra to have bows put in Winter’s hair, and at first glance, thought they looked great after Winter’s grooming appointment.

But the following morning, Winter was acting strange and was very lethargic. Upon further examination, Miller noticed a liquid coming from Winter’s ears, which had began turning black. She was shocked to discover that the bows had been attached by tight lying winding rubber bands around Winter’s ears.

Unfortunately, Miller hadn’t noticed that the day before, since Winter’s fur was long and covered the rubber bands.

Miller rushed Winter to the vet, where she underwent emergency surgery to save her life and her ears. The rubber bands were so tight that they had stopped blood flow to her ears, which caused swelling and blood blisters.

The vet drained the blisters with a needle to ensure proper healing. He told Miller that Winter could have lost her ears if she waited another four hours to bring her in, and that Winter would have died within 24 hours.

The whole incident has left Winter completely traumatized and she gets anxiety if she’s left alone. She is also now very timid and afraid of people.

“Now I have an emotional support dog that needs more emotional support than I do,” Miller told Mercury News.

Miller is now suing PetSmart and is demanding that PetSmart change its policy and stop using bows.

PetSmart paid for Winter’s medical expenses and offered free grooming sessions.

PetSmart admitted wrongdoing and said the employee was new, but Miller nor her attorney, Alison Cordova, doesn’t think this justifies what happened to her beloved dog.

“PetSmart knows how important dogs and animals are to their owners,” Cordova said in a statement. “Yet we keep seeing animals get hurt and/or killed while in PetSmart’s care. And this groomer’s actions, in particular, were so far below the standard of care in the industry that it is shocking.”

“Imagine if a day care center sent your child home with rubber bands so tightly wound around their little ears that their ears had turned black and hard and were dripping liquid,” she continued. “That is what happened here, but with Sherrilyn’s dog.”

H/T to Mercury News.