Lets help this sweet lady.  I bring my dogs there and can tell you they do a GREAT job. I cannot believe people would hold it against her for helping these poor pets who need to eat. What could be wrong with that?

A Tracy pet grooming shop is going through financial trouble, claiming that some customers want to distance themselves from its nonprofit organization that gives away pet food.

Decadent Pets, which runs the nonprofit Lucky Paws, might not be able to pay rent next month for the first time since it opened five years ago, said owner Jeannie Duckworth.  The shop is at 2302 East St.

In additon to giving pet food to animal owners who are unemployed or have falled on hard times, Duckworth also grooms pets at the Tracy Animal Shelter to make them more appealing to potential adopters.

"We want to make sure every pet can find a home," she said.  "two weeks ago, we found ourselves grooming more free animals than paying customers."

Duckworth said she has seen a drop in paid customers recently, some of whom she claimed don't want to be affiliated with some of the people who take part in Lucky Paws.  Those who have complained, she said, have turned their noses up at some of the people who ask for donations.

When times were good, Decadent Pets groomed 200 paid dogs a week.  Now, the numbers have fallen to the double digits.

"I can't say no to the pet," said Duckworth, who said she is a third-generation pet groomer.  "I can say no to the person, but when you look at the pet and they need help, you can't say no, ever."

Lucky Paws gained exposure in July, when the TV program "Good Day Sacramento" did a segment about the nonprofit.  Since then, Duckworth said, a few former clients have told her they won't return.  She also noticed negative reviews on Yelp.com and YP.com, whch have been deleted.

Jeannie's mother, Carol Bellicetti, who works at the shop, said that last year, in addition to her daughter, there were seven employees at Decadent Pets.  Now, the shop has just two.  She added that the decline in paying cusotmers isn't solely due to the association with giving away food.  Other people take their pets in less often because they can't afford frequent grooming, given the state of the economy. 

Usually, the shop, which operates Lucky Paws from 2 to 4 pm Saturdays, tries to give animal owners a month's worth of food, much of which has been donated by others in the community.  Bellicetti said that while some people head to the liquor store nearby after picking up their food, most are good people who have just recently lost their jobs and want to make sure their pets don't suffer as a result.

Those who stop by Decadent Pets for the food are grateful for the donations.

"It helps a lot," said Ralph Williamson, an unemployed Tracy resident with a cat and a dog.  "I don't want to see a dog suffer."

Lafferty, Justin. "Pet Groomer, charity face hard times." The Tracy Press 30 Sept. 2009, News sec. Tracypress.com. 30 Sept. 2009. Web. 30 Sept. 2009. <www.tracypress.com>.