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Ex-employee arrested in puppy’s death at east El Paso dog groomers

Luca, a puppy that died at an east El Paso dog grooming business.

UPDATE: El Paso police on Saturday released a mugshot of dog groomer Leobardo Nava II, charged with animal cruelty in a puppy's death. He was being held in the downtown jail on $3,300 bond.

Leobardo Nava II's mugshot

Police on Saturday also released a report on the incident which offered some new details in the case. It said evidence showed the puppy "was handled roughly during his grooming, grabbed forcefully by the neck and went limp" as Nava "aggressively" groomed him.

The report said the puppy "demonstrated signs of pain and lethargy upon being picked up. He was unable to eat or drink and cried out in pain when he attempted to walk" and died a short time later.

Police confirmed a canine autopsy found the dog's lungs were full of blood and he died of "a pulmonary edema caused by the stress of the incident."

ORIGINAL REPORT: EL PASO, Texas -- An arrest was made Friday afternoon stemming from a puppy's recent death at an east El Paso dog grooming business, police said.

31-year-old Leobardo Nava II was taken into custody on one count of cruelty to animals.

He was an employee at Happy Paws where Luccas, a 16-week-old Shih Tzu died hours after being taken to the groomers.

A veterinarian hired by the family that owned Luccas said the dog died of "pulmonary edema," which allegedly happened while he was in Nava's care at Happy Paws.

Amarige Azzam, the manager of Happy Paws at 12370 Edgemere, said Nava was fired the moment they received word of the dog's death.

Azzam also said the business has been the target of vandalism and threats in the wake of the dog's death. Azzam hopes the community will realize that the business didn't condone or know about the actions of the former employee now charged in the incident.

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JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.



  1. Pulmonary edema is usually caused by heart conditions which dogs like this little fellow are notorious. The Shih Tzu has breathing problems including the environment and lifestyle or how the dog is raised. Shih Tzu dogs are considered brachycephalic breeds which means that they have short noses and flat faces. Because of this, they are very prone to having issues with their breathing. Build up of the fluid around the lungs can be caused by trauma, but rare. Interesting to find out what happens in this case.

  2. Mark, yes pretty much all dog breeds that have flat faces are prone to these types of breathing problems. Cats, such as Persians, are also affected and are more prone to catching kennel cough. Making sure they get their annual check-up and frequently cleaning the folds in their faces should minimize any major problems.

    1. Alberto in his transgender mode up ranting at 4:00 am. It’s obvious all your schizo personalities suffer from insomnia. Talking to yourself shows you are nut jobs.

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