Another Dog Gone Missing And Hit By Car During PetSmart Grooming Appointment


First, it was the Anayas’ dog, Athena. Now, it is the Cohn’s dog, Max. Both of these dogs escaped from two separate PetSmarts during a grooming appointment. Both went missing, and both were later found hit by a car.

The Cohn family brought Max to a PetSmart in the Houston, Texas area. Somehow Max escaped from the front doors and went missing.

PetSmart employees searched the area, but were unable to find the 60 pound dog. Later that afternoon, it was discovered that Max had been hit by a car.

A PetSmart spokesperson said that Max got away after he slipped off a leash and then ran through the store’s open doors as people were entering and exiting.

She added, “Incidents of this kind are extremely rare” and “we believe every policy and procedure to keep animals safe when they are in a grooming salon was followed.”

The Cohn family said that PetSmart told them that they had looked up the value of Max on the Internet and offered to give the family $600.

The family said nothing or no one can ever replace Max, who was a much loved part of their family. They said that PetSmart should step up to the plate and take some moral and financial responsibility for what happened.

Angeline, who is sister to Mary Cohn, Max’s owner, emailed Itchmo about this incident and sent us a timeline of what happened with Max while he was at PetSmart:

Max is dropped off at the grooming salon at the Houston PetSmart on 610 Feeder Road in front of Home Depot at 8:00 am. His collar and tags are removed and he is put in the choke collar used by all grooming facilities and taken to the back room.

Max escapes from the grooming salon with no collar of any kind. This door opens outward and we do not understand how this could happen, but we are willing to accept that this was an accident. It is from this point forward that PetSmart failed our gentle pet.

The groomer who allowed Max to get loose does not follow him out of the grooming salon to retrieve him. OPPORTUNITY #1 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE.

The groomer does not alert the store employees that there is a dog loose in the store. OPPORTUNITY #2 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE.

At 8:45 AM a customer sees Max sitting inside the store by the front door, which automatically opens when approached. She alerts the store personnel immediately and loudly, imploring “there’s a dog here, do not let that front door open” but PetSmart staffers do nothing. According to the customer, they “freeze.” We have been asked if Max was trained and the answer is yes. He was trained in one on one training sessions with Jim Burwell. Anyone who is familiar with dogs understands that the training is as much, if not more, about teaching humans how to communicate with the animal. Max was already sitting and would have obeyed the simple verbal command to “stay”. He also works from hand signals and would have stayed with the hand signal of raised palm facing forward. No one executes a verbal command or hand signal of any kind to indicate to Max that he should stay put. Not even a “bad plan” of spooking the dog away from the front door is attempted. OPPORTUNITY #3 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE.

PetSmart staffers do nothing as a customer approaches the door from the outside and the automatic doors open. Max leaves the building. OPPORTUNITY #4 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE.

The customer immediately follows Max out the door and tries to retrieve him. PetSmart staffers congregate outside the building and seem confused. It takes PetSmart personnel minutes to join up with the customer who is shadowing Max. She asks what the dog’s name is and no one knows. They have brought no treats to entice the dog. Max will respond to a properly executed “come” command but you have to include his name. He is also food motivated and will come for a treat. When being chased by several people, he does what any dog would do. He runs in the opposite direction. Max eludes his pursuers. OPPORTUNITY #5 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE.

Max is sighted by PetSmart staffers in an open field near Mulberry and Bissonnet. Max has traveled more than a mile through the back neighborhoods and he is now six blocks from home. PetSmart employees “corner” Max . Their words. Once again, no treats and to our knowledge no simple commands are executed. Max turns and runs back the way he came. He is no longer heading for home. OPPORTUNITY #6 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE.

After more than an hour of participating in the search for Max, the CUSTOMER returns to the store and asks about the dog’s owner. She is shocked to learn we have not been contacted and DEMANDS that PetSmart call us immediately. I received a call at 10:10 AM; almost an hour and a half after Max left the store. Our house is three minutes away. OPPORTUNITY #7 TO SAVE MAX IS GONE. THE FIRST THING THAT PETSMART SHOULD HAVE DONE WAS TO PLACE A CALL TO ME. This is the most inexcusable behavior on the part of PetSmart.

So what do we want from PetSmart? We want them to remember Max’s death. We want them to design plans and procedures that will help to insure that this does not happen to another dog. We want them to implement a policy that owners are called immediately when a pet escapes or is in distress. The second call should be to the local animal control. We want proper employee training in basic animal behavior so that they will know that “chasing” an animal is not a retrieval plan. We want doors that do not open automatically or a double set of automatic doors. PetSmart is a billion dollar corporation with an eye to the bottom line and the only way that they will make any changes is when it affects their stock price.

Angeline has also set up a website called

Source: ABC13

33 Responses to “Another Dog Gone Missing And Hit By Car During PetSmart Grooming Appointment”

  1. Nora and Rufus says:

    This incredibly beautiful Aussie’s life snuffed out by another Pet Smart and their idiot employees! I feel very sad for the owners and poor Max. NEVER TAKE YOUR PET TO PETSMART OR PETCO TO BE GROOMED.

  2. stefani says:

    Good for Angeline.

    PetSmart doesn’t get it. Instead of admitting that something is systemically wrong, they call this “rare.” Well, there are an awful lot of these “rare” incidences happening.

    All PetSmart customers should be made aware of these incidents.

    As for the Cohns, they will be needing a lawyer. I applaud the “Petsmartkilledmydog” website, and I think she should stand by it. However, PetSmart is a huge corporation, and they aren’t going to sit around with that site up there without trying to completely smoosh and crush the Cohns through a defamation suit. Veterinarians all over the country do this when websites go up about them — and they don’t even have as many resources as PetSmart.

    See for information on lawsuits vets have filed against their very own clients!

    Also, see the story of Kodi Maleki for a very sad Banfield story:


    You should figure out how to get in touch with Jennifer Maleki — I am sure she can speak to Banfield/PetSmart’s hardball tactics in dealing with those who dare to speak out.

    Also, go to RipOff Report,, and type in PetSmart, and/or Banfield, see the litany of complaints that come up.

    I applaud the Cohns and want them to stand strong, and remember: Truth is an absolute defense. They should also be prepared. These types — bad vets, irresponsible corporations — victimize you once by destroying your pets. Then, when you have the nerve to speak out about it, they victimize you again, trying to stifle your freedom of speech and render you not merely brokenhearted, but BROKE and BROKEN as well.

    There is strength in numbers, though. And perhaps the Cohn’s are just the kind of people who have the guts to file a class action suit against this company.

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  3. Nell Liquorman says:

    A look at the state of the economy should tell you that corporations no longer have your best interest at heart. Otherwise, you would see made in the USA on most goods. There is not a corporation in the world that I would trust with the safety of my pets. Having very little faith in products, I sure don’t want their services. Try grooming your own pet. Go here for info:

  4. Larry Sheldon says:

    I am puzzled.

    The rate of thse reports has to be down in the statistical noise, although I do confess that I have tried to check that out.

    Is there a an anti-big business bias here? Anti-Petsmart?

    I am reaching the conclusion that this is the wrong blog for me.

  5. llp says:

    I have remained silent but at this point I must speak. I have taken my dog to several expensive and private groomers. She has been nicked, razor burned and cut by most of them. Several “good” groomers will not take on any more dogs. She is a bichon and I’m sorry, I fear I will hurt her myself even if I learned how to groom her, it is not my talent! I finally found a woman recommended by a “good” groomer who will not take on any more dogs. Yes, she works at Petco. She is the best yet. I pay extra to have the express groom so she will not be in there any longer than necessary. I also come back early and hide behind the racks to check on things. I am as careful and responsible as I can be, and I refuse to be on the verge of a breakdown every month when I leave her there. I pray she will be safe and well taken care of. I am disturbed by these situations where pets are hurt and employees are incompetent or negligent, but not every groomer in Petco or Petsmart is bad. Like I said, there are terrible groomers everywhere! Peace.

  6. KarlaSanDiego says:

    You know what? I own two kitties and they keep themselves immaculate….thank goodness.
    But I think people may want to start grooming their own dogs. This is a tragedy! Petsmart is completely negligent…twice now!

  7. Katie says:

    I feel so sorry for the Cohn family.

    Petsmart has had these problems before - they obviously don’t care or they would have taken steps to prevent further problems.


  8. Velvet's Dad says:

    To Larry Sheldon: If you can’t comment on the specifics of a post, but would rather generalize, yes, you don’t belong here. It is not a question of “anti-business or anti-PetSmart.” It’s a question of an incident of negligence on the part of some PetSmart employees. If you can’t see that, please do go elsewhere.

    Re Angeline, what a sad and tragic posting. Look at the smile in that girl’s photo as she hugs her dog.

    I join others here in wishing her and her family courage in standing up to PetSmart. One, her suggestions are truly positive ones. And two, they should not be intimidated by PetSmart should that corporation attempt in any way to close her website. There are records of veterinarians, for example, of going to court to try to close websites of former customers who reported wrongdoing on the part of these vets.

    The web must remain free: of government or corporate interference.

  9. Stefani says:


    Please remember the crisis that led most of us to Itchmo: The poisoning of our pets by corporate America in the person of the Pet Food Industry.

    I recommend you watch the movie, “The Corporation.” While it is nearly unbearably long, it really explains how The Corporation, as an individual under the law, is A SOCIOPATH by definition of the DSM.

    In other words: Yes, a lot of us here are going to have strong anti-corporate feelings for good reason.


  10. Highnote says:

    You would have thought after the last problem that all Pet Smarts would be more careful when grooming pets. Maybe they should have kept them in an inclosed area then to only put them on a leash. A lot of pets can get out of a leash and they should have known that. I feel for this family for their loss and Pet Smart best do something to improve their grooming before no one brings a pet into them again.

  11. Lynn says:

    Re comment by Larry Sheldon on December 27th, 2007 at 10:43 am:

    If there seems to be bias against PetSmart, it’s well-deserved. Too many negative events have occurred at their stores recently. Enough to cause many of us to stop patronizing them. Add them all together and they do get on the radar screen.

    One of the reasons I like the website is because it informs me of these adverse events WITHOUT bias. If you don’t want to know about things that may affect your own pet’s welfare, then perhaps it is the wrong website for you.

    That is, you do have pets, don’t you? You wouldn’t be a PetSmart employee, would you?

  12. Lynn says:

    Oh yes, as I mentioned on PetConnection this AM, I just got an email from a friend whose dog I gifted with a new PetSmart bed. The pillow is shredded and stuffing is coming out. Fabric doesn’t hold up. And this is a dog that is not a digger. Manufactured under PetSmart’s label.

    Of course a poorly made dog bed doesn’t concern me as much as dogs being maimed or lost or killed as a result of their “groomers’” lack of skills or care.

    But it all adds up. Don’t shop there. They are cutting corners all the way around.

  13. Chaoslillith says:

    At the Petsmart where I work this would have been handled completely differently. Our groomers are very attentive and aware and the employees are very dedicated to all the animals we house.

    Petsmart is a large chain, made up of a lot of people. Some good, some bad. I think the groomer that allowed this to happen should be fired for sure because for the dog to get out of the grooming salon which the doors open in, not out is the result of the groomer’s negligence, not the company’s per se.

    Bad people are everywhere. I am not an advocate of corporations by any means but try not to generalize that all people who work at Petsmart are bad people.

  14. stefani says:

    ChaosLillith –

    These things are so RARELY about “bad people.” What they are about is BAD SYSTEMS. While there are probably several employees whose errors in judgement contributed to the horrific outcome in this case, the truly culpable persons are those persons and the corporate management who have FAILED TO PUT IN PLACE redundant systems, protocols, and supervision adequate to make sure this does not happen. It sounds like no one knew what to do when the dog was sitting by the door. This is ridiculous.

    Yes, errors happen. But when they happen repeatedly in the same business AND/OR are clearly a result of irresponsibility on the part of management, whatever responsibility the “little guy” (i.e., individual groomer) bears pales in comparison to the culpability of those who failed to take preventive measures.

    The corporation shows no intention of taking these repeated incidents seriously.

    The managment of that store clearly DID NOT have procedures in place that were known by the employees for dealing with such incidents.

    As a result of managements irresponsibility and lack of care and concern for potential loss or harm of pets in their care, this happened.

    It’s not about bad people at the lowest levels. It’s about SYSTEMS that are irresponsible and MANAGEMENT is responsible for that.

    For example:

    My cat was given a massive insulin overdose by the son of his vet. The son was not a full time veterinary employee, in fact he had no formal training and was not licensed. He was being allowed (unbeknownst to me) to live in the basement under the animal hospital in return for going upstairs and taking “care” of patients. He took care of my cat alright — he destroyed his brain with a massive insulin OD by using the wrong syringe. Seems he didn’t know what the right size syringe was.

    Who is responsible for that? Him?

    Not primarily.

    His father, the owner and operator of the hospital, and the medical director as well, who sets the policies of that hospital is who I hold responsible. HE is the one who decided it was OK to leave patients who required careful dosing of dangerous drugs in the care of his unqualified, unlicensed, unsupervised son.

    It is so rarely the little guy on the ground that is to blame. It is irresponsible management that shirks accountability and refuses to acknowledge when they have a problem.

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  15. hazel says:

    There is no excuse for this…there were many chances to save this dog and all were lost due to either uncaring or simply stupid people. The groomer who did nothing should be firred.

    I was with an adoption group at Petsmart one time….and a dog got lose. The Petsamrt people not only had not a clue on what to do but made the situation much worse. I was calling to the dog and almost had her….when an idiot store employee literally came running at us …jumped off the curb with a load noise and scared the dog into very heavy four lane traffic.

    God was watching over this dog….because by some miracle she was not hit….and I enticed her to come to be with a snack.

    All of us need to write Petsmart and demand they have training for employees on what to do in such situations.

  16. Dawn says:

    This incident is bad on so many levels. For not one employee to make any attempt to get the dog is unbelievable. I personally have spent days looking for a dog, time in the woods during a rainstorm trying to get a cat and trying not to get hit going after a dog running through 4 lanes of traffic and none of these were the fault of where I worked but the fault of the onwers who did not have their dogs on leashes or their cat in a carrier. I would hope someone would do the same for me. I guess I shouldn’t count on that.
    I do think people should not count on the fact that a dog has been trained to obey commands. Training is as much about the relationship that develops and many dogs won’t obey a stranger especially if they are in frightening circumstances.

  17. The Lioness says:

    Two thoughts, one of which I have voiced before:

    1. Perhaps all PetSmart employees–as a condition of being hired–should be required to have a background in animal care, whether that means vet tech, kennel help, shelter worker, whatever–perhaps a condition of being hired at PetSmart in any capacity needs to be that you must have had some sort of experience handling animals. That would get rid of the “slack-jawed-employee-who-does-nothing-in-a-crisis.” They probably don’t do anything, because they have no animal handling experience. Perhaps PetSmart could even have an animal handling course they require for employees.

    2. Perhaps–I have said this before here in Itchmo–PetSmart should just get out of the grooming and boarding (ie, animal handling) business altogether.

    ~The Lioness

  18. G in INdiana says:

    Lioness, if they did all you ask, the cost of the crap they sell would have to increase (less profit if they didn’t raise prices) as they’d actually have to pay their new hired employees more money for their experience.
    It is cheaper for them in the long run to pay off the dog owners and just keep on doing what they are doing.
    That said, the smartest fish people I’ve ever met are or were at the Springdale, Ohio PetSmart store. They helped me tremendously with filtration and how to set up a big fish tank for the fishes best interests.

  19. Sharon says:

    The moral of this story is don’t take your pets to Petsmart or Petco to be groomed. If you do, stand outside the door and watch what is going on. I tried to buy a Christmas toy at both stores that was not made in China. There was not a single one in either chain. I only shop for pet food there because of lack of options elsewhere where I live and even then I can only use about 5% of what they sell. The rest is crap. That little girl lost her dog and Max lost his life because her parents were stupid. Petsmart made a mess of it but they are ones that chose to take him there and leave him there while they shopped at Home Depot?

  20. Larry Sheldon says:


  21. Carol says:

    Larry Sheldon says:

    December 27th, 2007 at 10:43 am

    To answer your questions—

    And if you’ve got the time, I’ll explain.

  22. Lynn says:

    I am clueless as to what this message means. Can someone interpret?

    Larry Sheldon says: December 28th, 2007 at 10:56 am

  23. Carol says:

    Lynn says:

    December 28th, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    He said bye-bye!! I think!
    My guess is he did not like the fact this blog talks badly of big business—I think he must be new as if he were here for all the news Itchmo has uncovered and posted, he probably would understand the posts here! Nevermind all of us so adversely affected by the big businesses!

  24. Joan says:

    Doesn’t matter to me if it was Petco or Petsmart, local groomer, or some one’s backyard. Negligence is negligence. And they sound like a bunch of idiots. I would sue if possible.
    Poor dog and poor family. All those chances to get the dog, inexcusable.

  25. hazel says:

    Joan you are so right. I do not expect everyone at Petsmart to be a vet tech…but I do expect that Petsmart gives them training on what to do in an emergency such as a loose dog…and claims that that would raise prices too high are simply wrong.

    We should be able to expect that those who handle our fur kids know what to do when something goes wrong.

    Training to call….to get a treat…to shut the door is not rocket science and should not be financially prohibitve…..such traing might have save a life.

  26. stefani says:


    “Joan you are so right. I do not expect everyone at Petsmart to be a vet tech…”

    Not to digress, but did you know that PetSmart’s affiliated Banfield clinics require only a HS diploma for people to be hired as “pet nurses” — e.g., the equivalent of vet techs?

    Seriously, I am not kidding. No experience or training requirements. No licensure, certification, or prior veterinary experience. Just a bunch of platitudes about attitude and an HS diploma. To see for yourself, just browse career opportunities on the Banfield website.

    There are MANY reasons to be afraid of those places.

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  27. Bane says:

    Petsmart sells baby rabbits, I be fed live to snakes. Petsmart should be avoided at all costs. They couldn’t care less about pets.

  28. Bob says:

    which store sells baby rabbits??

    I though they had a policy not to sell live feeders?

    The PetSmart I go to here in Toronto has been great (but hey that is just one store)

  29. k9kiss says:

    1st off this is a rare incident when there are 100’s of petsmarts 3 or 4 incidents is rare, I’m sorry it happened to this girl and her famliy, but I’m also sorry for Petsmart and all it’s employees who are getting a bad wrap.
    2nd Petsmart does not sell live aniamls for feed, trust me I tryed to buy them there for a boa I had who would only eat live prey, and I don’t see how anyone can think this is wrong. Can you really say my snake should starve to death jsut because someone thinks it is cruel to feed live prey to another animal, this is the way of nature.

  30. Jocat says:

    Hello. I am a Petsmart groomer. And apparently the first one to comment on here. I read this entire article carefully, as well as the comments. I will not side in favour of the the employees of the petsmart store in Texas. That was an unnecessary death, that indeed could have been prevented.
    Do not be so inclined to think that all Petsmarts are full of idiots. That’s a very close-minded and biased generalization.
    At the store i work at we have very strict policies on leashing the pets. They are to remained leashed at all times, and Petsmart has just released a new safety policy that we are not to remove our hand from the pet for longer than 3 seconds the entire time the dog is out of it’s kennel, unless it is securely tethered to the designated hooks we have at the foot of our tables.
    Every year we must pass a safety certification test, and if we fail it, we are not to touch a dog until we have passed it 100%.
    Again, not all Petsmarts are bad. Just the same as the rule of thumb that not all of one race is bad, or creed is bad. There are bad apples in every bunch. But remember, the most popular word of mouth is complaints. People are more likely to discuss bad experiences than good. People love that drama, and so to your local media sources. That’s what keeps you listening and reading.
    At my store a dog would have to go through 2 doors to reach the front door. And i know for sure that our employees would jump in and help. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Someone (mind you, the owner themself) was be standing in line at Banfield, and set the flexi-lease on the floor next to her hand momentarily while she tried to look in her purse for something. The assumed obedient dog took that oppertunity to bolt to get out of dodge. One of our quick cashiers hopped out in front of the dog and stopped it from reaching the door. I myself have helped catch dogs in the parking lot for customers, as i do around my own neighborhood, and have since i was a child. I love animals dearly, and how about that - i am a petsmart groomer. I take pride in my job, as do my co-workers.
    If you don’t like your groomer, check out some of the other 5-6 groomers in that shop. Or some of the other stores in the area. Like someone suggested, just stand there and watch for a while. Take note when the groomers smile and laugh and hug the pets and swell with pride as the put on the finishing touch of a beautiful pair of bows. It does happen. Believe me.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this. God bless.

  31. Matthew says:

    i just have to say, first off, that any pet incident wether it’s at a private groomers or corportation run salon system is awful. my wife and i have plenty of pets of our own and they are like our children.
    next i’d like to say that my wife has been grooming for about 2 years, not a super seasoned employee, but very talented, she is very good at understanding people’s needs, as she won’t let anyone else, even me, groom our pets.
    Second, as we’re married, i hear, and thanks to her can recite, every single petsmart policy, and the blog before me is correct.
    Petsmart as a company enforces more safety policies in thier grooming salons than you will find in any private groomer or other corporation like petco. Groomers everywhere vary in thier talent, patience and skill, but Petco as a company doesnt have half the policies and training Petsmart does. I know this as one of my wifes friends was fired at petco for giving a poor woman a discount on removing painfull and harmfull matts on her dog because she was homeless and couldn’t afford it. That groomer now works at Petco. She went through a half-ass assesment before allowed to groom and the company doesn’t enfore much of anything.
    Any petsmart employee that will be in the salon for any reason (managers, bathers, groomers) have to pass the safety certification test every year with a 100% or they don’t work. And after three tries, they get reviewed by the head honchos and if they can’t get it together they’re gone. At petsmart safety is a big issue. To outright say petsmart as a company doesn’t care is wrong. i can’t tellyou how many stories my wife has come home with telling me about how she helped a neglected and matted dog, or how the store had to call animal control because dogs were left in a car in the 102 degree head without water. Associates are trained in every aspect of a dog incident or escape, but most people when faced with a crisis freeze. it’s sad but true, and most of these people that cause or add to problems by doing nothing, usually aren’t kept with the company. groomers get fired right and left for any little thing, do any of you notice that everytime you go to the groomers the employees have changed? it’s a tough job and even tougher to staff for!
    She and all her coworkers have heard stories like this and everyone feels for these families, and there is no excuse why the employees in texas should have froze. while my wife was in academy i went to visit her at her store and a dog got loose from a parent carrying to many items and it was bounding for the door, which was right near a major interstate. ja cashier that had to have been around 55 ran to the door, jumped up and turned off the sliding doors which led to the pets return.
    I guess what i’m trying to say is that, like the blog before, there are bad apples everywhere, and petsmart groomers have some of the highest turnover rates in the store, because when you make a mistake, or show any disregard for safety, you gone, thats it. I think the fact everyone on this blog is so quick to jump on the I-hate-petsmart bandwagon speaks not only to thier intellegence level, but thier common sense as well. nothing is 100% foolproof, and not everything always goes as planned. people are quick to obsess over the negative, but that margin is everywhere. Animals are animals, \most will never enjoy the grooming process and many are very smart and tricky to handle. People tend to forget what a difficult job grooming is and are so quick to crucify a groomer.
    All of you go to a groomer for the same reason; you can’t do it yourself, for whatever reason you can’t. the groomers deal with feces and urine on daily basis, i can’t tellyou how many times my wife has come home with these on her as well as bites and scratches. every groomer does. it is not an easy job, i wouldn’t do it, and i’m an infantry man in the U.S. Army, and that’s saying something. Accidents and bad apples happen in my job as well, but i am proud of the job my wife does, and the way petsmart polices thier own employees.

  32. Analicia r says:

    I am very very sorry about your dog he will always be in your hearts.

    ps: Iam sorry

  33. Anonymous says:

    Was working there when it happened….was a horrible accident….but u ppl where not there….no one says on here that the cohn family wanted 30,000 dollars not to contact the media….there was OPPORTUNITY #6 …no opportunities at all…the dog ran….there was no stopping it….how he got loose was neglgence…Yet u basically copied and pasted the cohn’s website…which they took down when they got their settlement….i see policies being broken a lot…which is why i am leaving. Their are some very talented and caring groomers at petsmart….jus sick of ppl talking about something that THEY DID NOT SEE…THE COHN’S WHERE NOT THERE….SO THESE SO CALLED OPPORTUNIES…ARE BULL!!!!!!!!!!!!

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