01/31/2014 09:49 EST | Updated 04/02/2014 05:59 EDT

NDG family dog may lose paw after grooming mishap

A couple from NDG say a simple visit to the groomer could now cost their puppy its front paw — and thousands of dollars in veterinary bills.

Christine Laird and her husband wanted to have their 11-month-old puppy Jacques shaved, so they turned to the internet to find a groomer.

“I looked online on Craig's List and found a groomer,” said Laird, who brought her dog to a private groomer who works out of an apartment complex in Verdun.

Laird was not worried, saying the place was clean and the groomer was very friendly.

But when she went to pick up her dog, there was a problem.

“When I got there, he was just sitting on the table with his leg limp. He said [Jacques] fell off the table,” Laird said.

Jacques’ front paw was broken in two places.

Now Laird and her husband must choose between having the paw amputated — or  major surgery which would cost the couple more than $4,000.

“It's stressful. It's just not a good time,” said Laird, who is eight months pregnant with her first child. “I don't want to give up on him. I don't want him to lose a leg.”

The groomer did not return CBC’s calls.

Tips when hiring a groomer

Animal experts say stories like Laird’s are becoming more common, and owners should vet pet groomers before taking their animal in for a shave or trim.

“Finding somebody online and trusting them with your animal is not the way to go,” said Alanna Devine, executive director of the SPCA in Montreal.

Devine says the SPCA is hearing more and more horror stories about grooming gone wrong.

She says owners should speak to previous clients and research the business.

“Go to the premises and visit. Make sure you can be there when other animals are being groomed.”

Laird says she and Jacques' veterinarian both believe it was an accident.

The couple is considering suing the groomer for damages.

Meanwhile, Laird says she has learned her lesson.

“I should have asked more questions,” she said.