Connect with us

When a Valuable Employee is Caught in a Small, Petty Theft, Is It Time to Fire Him?




SAMANTHA HAD ALWAYS DREAMED of opening a pet boutique and grooming salon. She had opened her boutique with business partner Paul two years before, and they both felt lucky to have found a wonderful groomer named Henry after a long search.


Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual pet businesses and people.


NANCY E. HASSEL is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at

One evening when closing out the cash register, though, she began to sense something was amiss.

“Hmm, that can’t be right,” Sam thought to herself. “How can this be off again by such a small amount?” After recounting and going through receipts, she came to the same outcome.

“Hey, so the draw is off again,” Sam told Paul over the phone.


“Was Henry ringing up regular customers again today?” Paul asked.

“Yes, but only for a little bit while when I went on a delivery,” Sam said. “I don’t know … it’s such a small amount, I can’t figure it out. I also noticed our inventory on those small treat bags was down.”

“I think we have to confront Henry,” Paul said. “At least ask him, even if it was a mistake.”

“I don’t want to confront Henry yet,” Sam said. “We don’t have any proof, and I don’t want him to leave. It was so hard to find someone to work here. He is always on time, and is great with the customers and their dogs. I can’t imagine he would take a few dollars here or there.”

“Yes, but a few dollars here and there add up.”

“I know, I know — OK, let me finish up,” Sam said, hanging up.


“Ugh! This is so frustrating. Henry better not be stealing from us!” Sam said aloud to herself in the closed store.

The next morning, Sam was opening up the store, and Henry came in.

“Good morning Sam! How are you today? It’s a beautiful day out! Should be busy today.”

“Henry …,” Sam began, “our draw was off again last night. It was off a few days ago a similar amount. I am not …”


Before she could finish, Henry interrupted: “What? That is so bizarre! I don’t understand. Maybe something is not input into the system correctly.”

“Maybe, but I doubt it. That system is pretty much foolproof,” Sam said. “Please just be careful when you are ringing up costumers.”

“I thought I was …,” Henry said and walked to the back of the store, set down his bag down and hung up his coat near his grooming station.

A few hours later, Sam went to the back by the grooming area to help Henry lift a big dog onto the grooming table. She noticed in Henry’s open bag on the floor a couple of small bags of treats — the same brand that had gone missing. He didn’t see her notice.

Her face went hot. She finished helping with the dog and went to the front of the store to call Paul.

“I am so beyond mad right now!” she said and told Paul what she had seen.

“We need to fire him, right now,” Paul said.

“But Paul, where are we going to find another groomer that our customers love so much? You know we have tried for the past two years to hire another groomer!”

The Big Questions

  • What can Sam and Paul do to solve their immediate problem without firing Henry?
  • How can Sam best speak with Henry about this topic?
  • How can Sam and Paul protect their inventory and bottom line and stop this from happening in the future?

Real Deal Responses

Karen W. Denver, CO

Sam needs to speak with Henry while she knows the treats are in his possession. A policy of an employee purchase needing to be rung up by someone other than the employee is hopefully in place so Sam would know whether Henry paid for the treats. We have our employees set up as ‘customers’ so we can track their purchases for just such scenarios. Henry needs to be let go right away. The longer he gets away with stealing, the more he will steal.

Terri E. Salem, OR

Tough spot to be in. Obviously theft is cause for immediate firing, and I probably would. I’d wonder what else is being taken from them. First, I’d set up cameras. If they can’t or won’t fire him, I’d sit down with the groomer, tell the truth and ask questions. Document the incident in writing immediately and keep good notes on all discrepancies, so you can take action on specific issues later.

Ramie G. Evanston, IL

Remember, you need proof before you accuse someone, but there are ways to prevent shrinkage: 1) Have staff keep bags and personal items in a locked area. It’s better for everyone. 2) Enforce rules about ringing up sales and staff discounts. We sell food and treats at cost to our staff to keep it affordable for them. 3) Establish procedures and train the staff to open/close the register and proper cash handling. Pull cash from the drawer throughout the day. 4) If it’s a groomer, consider that cash-handling is not in their skill set. Have someone else run the register. It could be honest mistakes. 5) If you still haven’t solved the problem, consider a camera system.

Nancy G. Fredericksburg, VA

Everyone is replaceable. Groomers are extremely hard to find, but a thief isn’t going to change his ways. If I were in the same situation, I would let Henry finish his grooms for the day. When all the dogs were finished, I would sit him down and let him know that I saw several bags of treats in his bag and they were the same treats missing from our inventory. I’d ask him to show me proof that he purchased them, and if he didn’t have proof, I would fire him immediately. The bottom line is, employees work for you, and if you have a thief as an employee, they may not just steal from you, they could also steal your customer’s credit card info, etc.

Sallie W. Conway, SC

I don’t know that I could ever trust that person again, so I would probably have to let him go, even if it left me stranded.

Linda K. Rapid City, SD

Fire him, or if that’s not financially viable, tell him you’ve noticed some treats have gone missing and realized that he may be needing some for when he works with the grooming clients. Offer a treat jar with some treats and let him know that if he needs anymore to let you know so that the inventory numbers stay on track. Let him know that you are streamlining so he can focus more on his grooming.



P.L.A.Y. Media Spotlight

At P.L.A.Y. — Pet Lifestyle & You — toy design is definitely a team effort! Watch PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita and P.L.A.Y.’s Director of Sales Lisa Hisamune as they talk about the toy design process, the fine-tuning that makes each toy so special and why every P.L.A.Y. collection is made with independent retailers top of mind.

Promoted Headlines






Get the most important news
and business ideas from PETS+.


Most Popular