A turf war between two rival dog beauticians has led to a £50,000 High Court battle and allegations of a ‘vicious’ online smear campaign.
Dog groomer Laura Thurgood is suing her former business partner Danielle Laight, 28, over rights to use the name ‘Wash Wiggle and Wag’ as well as claims she has been libelled in a series of texts and social media posts.
Ms Thurgood, of Warton, Tamworth, who runs her pooch-valeting service in the West Midlands, says she stopped working with Ms Laight in 2020 and claims the latter then smeared her on social media.
Ms Laight allegedly wrote that Ms Thurgood’s grooming had ‘resulted in a number of dogs being injured’ and owners ‘incurring large bills from vets’.
Now, Ms Thurgood is seeking an order banning Ms Laight from running her rival business in the same area under the ‘Wash Wiggle and Wag’ banner, plus libel damages of up to £50,000.
Dog groomer Laura Thurgood (pictured) claims she acquired the ‘Wash, Wiggle and Wag’ banner in 2018, while rival Danielle Laight insists she holds the rights to the name
Ms Thurgood says she worked with Danielle Laight (pictured), 28, from 2018 to 2020. After the two ended their business relationship, she claims Laight smeared her on social media
But Ms Laight is defending the case, insisting the rights to the name are hers and arguing her claims are ‘substantially true’.
In court documents lodged with London’s High Court, Ms Thurgood’s barrister Ian Silock says that she set up her business in 2018 and claims she acquired the ‘Wash Wiggle and Wag’ trademark.
She ran her mobile grooming salon from the back of a van, operating in a 30-mile radius covering south Birmingham, Solihull and Redditch.
In June 2018, she and other family members teamed up with pet groomer Ms Laight to help grow the enterprise, using her as a contractor.
Ms Thurgood claims her business began to take off over the next two years pulling in over 700 clients – with Ms Laight carrying out around 2,600 grooming sessions.
But in May 2020, the two women’s working relationship fell apart and Ms Laight left a letter terminating the partnership in Ms Thurgood’s van.
Mr Silock alleged Ms Laight has carried on her canine trade around Redditch while falsely implying that Ms Thurgood was the one using the name ‘Wash Wiggle & Wag’ under false pretences.
She had sent texts to some of Ms Thurgood’s customers blackening her reputation, alleged Mr Silock, with the texts stating: ‘After receiving calls from customers it seems the van I was previously using is back in action and covering Solihull areas with a “new groomer”.
‘The owners Robert, Jim and Laura Thurgood are pretending I am turning up for grooms, then leaving customers no choice with a new groomer on their doorstep.
Ms Laight (pictured) denies smearing Ms Thurgood and says her posts on social media are ‘substantially true’
Ms Laight says she registered the name ‘Wash Wiggle & Wag’ in good faith as her own trade name four years ago
Ms Thurgood, of Warton, Tamworth, now seeks £50,000 compensation for her tarnished reputation plus a judge’s ruling on the disputed trade name
‘As a result of this I have had injured dogs owners on the phone with large vets’ bills now needing to be paid. THIS IS NOT ME AND I NO LONGER WORK WITH THEM!
‘PLEASE only use my number and my name if you are wanting to book with me. I will be making sure my name “Wash Wiggle & Wag” is no longer used by them.’
Ms Thurgood now seeks £50,000 compensation for her tarnished reputation plus a judge’s ruling on the disputed trade name.
The alleged smears led to a dramatic dip in business, said Mr Silcock, with some 40 client bookings being cancelled.
‘As a result of the publications Ms Thurgood has suffered and is continuing to suffer significant stress, anxiety, upset, embarrassment, and humiliation,’ he added.
Ms Laight denies libel and insists Ms Thurgood has carried on her grooming business not under the ‘Wash Wiggle and Wag’ tag, but using the names ‘Doggy Style’ and ‘Scruffy2Fluffy’.
She claims she registered the name ‘Wash Wiggle & Wag’ in good faith as her own trade name four years ago.
In her defence, Ms Laight says the disputed text messages to customers were ‘substantially true’, claiming to have received messages from several customers complaining about receiving visits from Ms Thurgood’s groomers when they had expected to see her instead.
‘The customers complained about the treatment provided and that their dogs were injured as a result,’ stated her barrister, Robert Whittock.
‘One particular complaint concerned a dog called Archie which had required a trip to the vet and incurred a significant vet bill.’
Countering that claim, Ms Thurgood’s barrister said no dog had ever been injured under her care, but added: ‘The claimant accepts that one of the dogs groomed by, for or on behalf of her business suffered a minor allergic reaction and/or minor skin irritation as a result of its grooming session, but it was not injured, and it did not require significant veterinary treatment or expenditure as a result.’
Ms Thurgood is suing both Ms Laight and her company, Wash Wiggle & Wag Ltd.