Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sheriff: 100 Pit Bulls Plus Chickens, Wild Boars, Guns, Drugs Found At Home

Posted: 6:54 pm EDT August 20, 2010
Updated: 12:27 pm EDT August 22, 2010

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio -- Jefferson County authorities initially converged on a home Friday afternoon as part of a drug investigation, but ended up finding an animal house at Sherman Bell’s home according to Sheriff Fred Abdalla.

"I've seen a lot, but this is one of the worst, the inside of that house certainly isn’t livable, I can tell you that," said Abdalla.

Humane officers counted more than 100 pit bulls at the home along County Road 23 near Bloomingdale. In addition they reported finding chickens, snakes wild boars and pet cockroaches. Abdalla said it appears many of the animals were neglected because waters bowls throughout the property for the animals were empty.

Abdalla said his biggest fear when he arrived at the scene was that the animals were being used in some sort of organized fighting. Bell said that isn’t the case. “I raise pit bulls, but they are not for fighting. That's why I'm so broke. If I sold them for fighting I'd have money." Bell went onto say that chickens are not used for fighting either.

Bell is in the Jefferson County Justice Center facing a slew of charges. His animals are being cared for by Humane officers, they will likely leave the animals on the property and care for them there, because there are just so many.

In additional to the large animal find the Jefferson County Drug Task Force reported finding 30 guns, sawed off shotguns, 80 marijuana plants and 20 grams of raw opium.

For a slideshow of the conditions, please visit

To pull off the biggest pit bull fighting bust in U.S. history, investigators went deep undercover. So did their dogs.

By Keegan Hamilton Wednesday, Sep 1 2010

The grainy footage shows two snarling pit bulls in a dimly lit barn, staring each other down through a haze of cigarette smoke. Walled in by a makeshift ring of three-foot-high plywood planks, the collarless dogs twitch and wag their tails, expending nervous energy like prizefighters shadowboxing in the ring in the moments before the opening bell.

Both dogs are males and have a tan coat and a white belly, which makes it difficult to tell them apart. They're about ten months old — young for fighters. This is their first taste of combat.

Each dog has a handler who grips it by the scruff of the neck and positions it opposite its foe in the corner of the sixteen-by-sixteen-foot ring. When they're released, the pit bulls collide with a dull thud. One dog lands on its back and the other pounces, grabbing hold with its jaws. The two animals spend the next several minutes growling and panting, locked in a ferocious struggle.

John Bacon, who owns the dog that's on top, bends at the waist and rests his hands on the knees of his baggy overalls, hovering close to the tangle of fur and flesh. He cajoles his pit bull to release its bite and improve its position. The dogs tumble over one another and Bacon jumps out of the way. "There you go!" he shouts. "That's where you want to be!"

The other dog is getting mauled. It emits a piercing squeal, followed by a whimper. Laughter ripples through the crowd. Joseph Addison, a spectator who wears his hair in a jumble of chin-length braids, suggests it's time to stop the match.

"This motherfucker through, man," he says to Bacon. "He's done."

Using a small, wedge-shaped piece of wood called a break stick, Bacon pries open his dog's jaws, releasing its opponent. The animals are separated and taken back to their respective corners to "scratch." If they charge again, the fight continues. If one dog refuses, it will be branded a "cur" — an almost certain death sentence.

At the moment of truth, the vanquished dog cowers while Bacon's dog attacks without hesitation, biting down and thrashing its powerful neck in order to inflict maximum damage. Again the handlers separate the dogs. The fight is over.

Someone in the crowd asks the losing dog's owners what they plan to do with it.

"I'll take 'im home," one says.

"Take him home?" comes the incredulous reply. "Look at this shit! You'll take him home?"

"Yeah," the man repeats, declining the offer to use an impromptu electric chair: an extension cord rigged with alligator clips attached to one end. "I'll take 'im home."

A year and a half later, Bacon describes the scrap in the East St. Louis barn as "just a little wrasslin' match." In dog-fighting parlance it's known as a "roll" — a brief sparring session used to gauge whether a pup has the fighting spirit known simply as "game."

"A contract fight is something you prepare for," Bacon explains. "A roll is just ten, maybe fifteen minutes. The dogs ain't gettin' hurt too much."

He's a carpenter by trade, but Bacon knows a lot about dogfighting. Still, there was one thing he didn't know on March 22, 2009.

He was unaware that his dog's opponent, Hammer, was property of the United States government.

The dog was purchased, trained and brought to the fight by Terry Mills and Jeff Heath, veteran Missouri State Highway Patrol officers who were conducting an extensive undercover investigation into the secretive and brutal world of organized pit bull fighting and breeding. Both men wore video- and audio-recording equipment concealed in their clothes.

Four months after the fight in the barn, a multiagency task force conducted a series of raids in eight states. Agents arrested 26 dogfighters, including Bacon, and seized more than 500 pit bulls — the largest dogfighting bust in American history. In order to make their case, investigators had spent a year and a half taking part in the same gruesome activities for which they would later make the arrests.

For the entire article, please visit

For the Love of Pit: Many former fighting dogs find new lives as family pets

By Keegan Hamilton Wednesday, Sep 1 2010

Gale Frey holds her 40-pound pit bull as if it were an infant, cradling the dog in her arms and rocking gently back and forth. The docile dog — Sir Reginald Farnsworth the Third — contentedly drops off to sleep.

Seated on a park bench across the street from the Humane Society of Missouri headquarters on Macklind Avenue in St. Louis, Frey explains that Sir Reginald wasn't always so friendly. He was one of more than 500 pit bulls seized by federal law enforcement officials on July 9, 2009. Scars on Sir Reginald's lips and front legs indicate he had a long career as a fighter before he joined the Frey household.

"The first time my husband started cheering on the Rams, he hit the floor," Frey says. "He thought the fights were about to begin. We had to let him know that no, there are no more fights."

Frey is the founder of Mutts-n-Stuff, a nonprofit organization based in St. Louis that serves as a halfway house for fighting dogs. The organization is part of the Pit Bull Rescue Alliance, five groups nationwide that rehabilitate and resettle dogs that were originally bred to attack other animals.

On the one-year anniversary of the 2009 raids, several dozen people who adopted rescued pit bulls gathered in St. Louis for a memorial service and reception. As their dogs munched on gourmet treats, the owners, many sporting T-shirts that read "Save the dogs, euthanize the men and women who fight them," discussed the personality quirks of their pets.

"She's basically the perfect dog," Beth Rastberger says of her small pit bull, Vienna. "She loves other dogs, she loves play. People freak her out though — she's kind of timid around them."

Frey says that with proper care and plenty of exercise, the pit bulls can make excellent companions. "They don't come out of the womb saying, 'I'm going to kick your ass,'" she notes. Still, reformed fighters aren't for everyone. Like the Humane Society of Missouri, Mutts-n-Stuff screens applicants seeking to adopt the dogs.

Frey says her group primarily assesses "the level of activity and energy of the home. Honestly, people who adopt abused dogs, I think, are a different classification. They are people who are willing to modify their life to accommodate the dog. If you have a household full of screaming children and people coming in and out constantly, you don't want to adopt a frightened, timid dog."

The groups screen the dogs as well. Undesirable behaviors are, whenever possible, addressed and eliminated, and potential adopters are warned of temperamental quirks.

Frey started her organization in 2000. Last year she took in 47 of the 500 pit bulls seized in the multistate raid. Five of those dogs remain available for adoption.

The Humane Society of Missouri found homes for about 250 of the 500 rescued pit bulls. Jeanne Jae, spokeswoman for the animal-welfare organization, says only two of the dogs they took in — Brownie and Bob — remain in their care. Both were born in the group's shelter in the months following the raids.

The Humane Society charges $110 to adopt a pit bull, Mutts-n-Stuff $150. The fee covers all vaccinations and a microchip, as well as neutering or spaying. For more information visit or

On the one-year anniversary of the 2009 raids, several dozen people who adopted rescued pit bulls gathered in St. Louis for a memorial service and reception. As their dogs munched on gourmet treats, the owners, many sporting T-shirts that read "Save the dogs, euthanize the men and women who fight them," discussed the personality quirks of their pets.

For the complete story of the 2009 dog-fighting busts, please see this week's feature, "Dog Beat Dog".

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pet Company Dogs Test Positive For Parasite That Can Spread to Humans

Submitted by Nordia Epps on July 7, 2010 - 8:52pm.

Well over half the dogs confiscated from the Pet Company at the Hamilton Place Mall test positive for a highly contagious parasite that can spread to humans.

That's according to the McKamey Animal Center who will care for the animals with Giardia.

And we learn of an outbreak of this same parasite at six Georgia Pet Company stores in 2006.

The test results bring worry for McKamey Animal center.

Director Karen Walsh reports 22 of the 32 dogs confiscated have Giardia.

The highly infectious parasite can be transmitted to other dogs and to people.

Karen Walsh, McKamey Animal Center, "It's a large percentage of the population. It certainly gives us grave concern as to where this population ends up and that they don't contaminate other people's pets or people themselves."

Giardia causes symptoms like diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea that often appear one to two weeks after infection.

It's caught through contaminated water, food, or poor hygiene practices.

Walsh suggests people who've purchased a puppy from the Pet Company have it tested.

Walsh, "They have been isolated here as a separate population from our dogs that come in but they are exposing themselves to each other and we know that there's dogs in that group that were on the sale floor that are positive."

The Attorney for the Pet Company has maintained his client followed federal regulations.

Andy Pippinger, Pet Company Attorney, "Our client took care of these animals... made sure they had plenty of water, plenty of food. They were well taken care of. They were provided vet care once every 7 days and they cleaned the kennels appropriately."

Judge Sherry Paty ordered the dogs that did not test positive for the parasite along with the rest of the pets to be returned to the Pet Company.

It will now house them at the Companion Animal Hospital in Chattanooga, instead of its Georgia store.

Walsh, "The Georgia state vet was not comfortable with them coming"

Back in 2006, six Pet Company stores in Metro Atlanta got quarantined after all but 13 of the 150 puppies tested were positive for giardia.

The company did not return our calls for comment.

Judge Paty will rule next Wednesday on what will ultimately happen to the animals and the Pet Company.

McKamey: Most Pet Company dogs tested positive for parasite

McKamey: Most Pet Company dogs tested positive for parasite

Posted: Jul 07, 2010 10:14 AM CDT

By Callie Starnes & WRCB Staff

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - More than half of the dogs seized in the June raid of the mall pet store have tested positive for a dangerous parasite, according to McKamey Animal Shelter.

McKamey was ordered by a judge to test the dogs taken from The Pet Company in Hamilton Place Mall last month for giardia.

Twenty dogs tested positive for the parasite that is transmissible to humans. Those dogs will remain under the care of McKamey officials where they will receive treatment.

Twelve dogs tested negative for giardia. Judge Sherry Paty ordered any dogs that tested negative be returned to The Pet Company and transported to another Pet Company location. The Pet Company has stores in Georgia and New Jersey.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture sent a letter to the Pet Company saying although the dogs did not test positive for giardia, they have been exposed to it. So, they are not allowed to cross the state line and be housed in Georgia.

The Pet Company instead will house the animals at the Companion Animal Hospital in Chattanooga. The center is the Pet Company's contracted veterinarian in the area and serves the community as well. The 12 dogs and all the "pocket pets" - hamsters, ferrets, rabbits- will all be taken to the Companion Animal Hospital under the care of Dr. Prince.

The arrangement will last at least until next Wednesday when the Pet Company and McKamey head back to court.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Pet Company Gets to Keep Animals- Thursday, July 1

Thursday, July 1, 2010
Pet store keeps animal rights
By: Kate Harrison

A judge's ruling Wednesday in an animal welfare case leaves 82 pets in limbo.

The Pet Company will be given two weeks to fix the problems at its Hamilton Place store before being allowed to sell animals again, Chattanooga City Judge Sherry Paty ruled.

Judge Paty said the store must pass an inspection by officials from the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before animals can be returned and sales resume.

In the meantime, the animals seized June 15 from the store will be sent to other Pet Company stores, the judge ruled. The chain has 22 stores across the nation, with the nearest in Atlanta.

Before being trucked across state lines, all 82 animals must be checked for giardia, a contagious parasite found in four of the dogs seized two weeks ago. The cost of the tests and the health certificates will be footed by the McKamey Center, which is funded by tax dollars and donations.

"The judge has said the healthy animals can leave, but we now have the burden of determining whether they're healthy or not," McKamey Executive Director Karen Walsh said.

The Pet Company had faced 90 city code violations, including many tied to animal cruelty.

City and state officials were trying to get the store's license revoked, and Judge Paty still could do so if she determines that the store has not complied with conditions.

Judge Paty's ruling came after a four-day Chattanooga City Court trial, the longest in the court's history, Judge Paty said.

A hearing is scheduled for July 14 at 1 evaluate whether the store has met the judge's conditions and who will pay fines and other animal care expenses.

"It doesn't sound like this store is actually running in compliance with what their manual calls for, let alone what the city code calls for," McKamey attorney Mark Litchford said Wednesday during closing arguments.

Andrew Pippenger, attorney for United Pet Supply, the parent of the Pet Company, argued that McKamey's actions were unjustified.

"The reality is their process was fundamentally unfair," he said. "They came out to take the animals without a hearing. They came out to revoke our license without a hearing. That shows they're biased."

Judge Paty said store employees' failure to follow their manual was "unacceptable." She also criticized the store for failing to fix its air conditioning system for three weeks and for unsanitary conditions.

After looking at photos of animals matted with urine and fecal matter, she said the store was currently unfit for business.

"A picture is worth a thousand words," she said.

Yet Judge Paty also noted that McKamey officials had failed to give adequate formal warnings to the company before resorting to the raid.

She also criticized a petition that a McKamey volunteer posted on the center's website, calling for signatures and donations to shut the Pet Company down. The petition made McKamey, which is a civic authority, look biased, she said.

Ms. Walsh said her priority now is to care for the animals while they are still in McKamey's care. She also said the organization would work with the Pet Company to ensure that the store meets the city's standards.

"That's our job," she said.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Pet Company - June 30


Pet Company Judge Gives Store 2 Weeks To Fix Problems

June 30, 2010 2:28 PM
Nathan Faulkner

The judge in the Pet Company hearing is giving the company two weeks to fix the problems at its Hamilton Place Mall store.

The judge's decision allows the animals that were seized from the Hamilton Place Mall store to go to other stores.

"I'm bound to reconcile the interests of these animals with the interests of the company," the judge said before issuing her decision.

But the judge also ruled that no sick dogs will be returned to Pet Company until they are healthy. The animals had been staying with McKamey.

Pet Company was accused of mistreating animals.

The store at Hamilton Place Mall was raided earlier this month. Officers for McKamey found unsanitary and unliveable conditions for pets.

Earlier Wednesday, the attorney for the Pet Company defended his client, saying the company runs a "top-notch organization."

The attorney for McKamey said the store had 90 violations, mostly for neglect. The attorney said there were dirty cages and that a manager had put a dead dog in the refrigerator with food. The attorney also said four dogs had parasites.

Chattanooga: Pet Company can reopen if problems fixed, judge rules

By: Kate Harrison

The Pet Company has two weeks to fix the problems at its Hamilton Place store before it can sell animals again, a judge ruled today.

However, Chattanooga City Judge Sherry Paty ruled that the store must pass an inspection by officials from the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before sales can resume.

The 82 animals seized on June 15 from the store will not be returned to Hamilton Place but will be sent to other Pet Company stores, the judge ruled.

The store was hit with 90 City Code violations, including many tied to animal cruelty. City and state officials were trying to get the store’s license revoked.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

Posted: Jun 30, 2010 1:47 PM CDT

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Judge Sherry Paty is giving The Pet Company two weeks to take care of any issues raised before she makes a final ruling.

In her ruling, Judge Paty stated that the Pet Company could reopen, if it can take care of all the problems addressed in the hearing. The store will have to pass an inspection by McKamey Animal Shelter and the Department of Agriculture before it can reopen.

Judge Paty also stated that healthy dogs taken from the Hamilton Place location could be sent to other stores.

No unhealthy animals will be returned until they have received a clean bill of health.

All of the court costs and fines will be placed on hold until the case is reviewed on July 14th.

Customer: The Pet Company Doesn't Deserve A Second Chance

Submitted by Nordia Epps on June 30, 2010 - 8:35pm.

The Pet Company has two weeks to fix the conditions in its Hamilton Place Store.

McKamey Animal Center removed the store's animals a few weeks ago, and cited them with 90 violations of animal neglect and unsanitary conditions.

The Pet Company attorney disputed the claims saying there was no violation under federal law.

Judge Sherry Paty says many of the conditions were unacceptable, but they could be remedied.

The Pet Company gets to reclaim the healthy animals... but can't take them to the Chattanooga store.

McKamey Director Karen Walsh says their concern was always for the welfare of the animals.

McKamey Animal Center's Karen Walsh says, "Hopefully, wherever they end up there will be people that care enough to do follow up and to be sure that that's what happens."

Any sick animals remain under McKamey's care.

The judge postponed ruling on any fines or costs.

Walsh says a regular citizen would be required to pay back the more than 22-thousand-dollars used to lodge the animals.

The decision doesn't sit well with one customer of the Pet Company.

She bought a toy poodle there back in December and has already paid nearly 700 dollars trying to get him well.

And she says she won't be satisfied unless the the pet store is forced to close down.

"I love you. Yes I do. (laughter) This is my baby. I love him more than anything in this world."

For Linda Ramey, 9 month old Nathan is much more than a dog...he's a member of the family.

Ramey, "It is upsetting because I know what conditions he come out of and I just keep saying to him 'Baby, Mommy got you and God gave you to me and I got you out of that old mess,' and I did."

She got the toy poodle from The Pet Company inside Hamilton Place Mall on December 16th and she says he's been sick ever since.

"He has coughed, crouped, at some point you think he's going to choke to death. He's had congestion that he spit up," she says.

And nearly 700 dollars in vet bills later, Nathan is still not over what doctors diagnosed as a bronchial infection.

Ramey, "There's no telling how he was treated or where he came from. I just couldn't stand it. I'd cry every time I'd look at him and think about what he'd been put through. huh"

News earlier this month that the animals got removed from the Pet Company brought her joy.

Ramey, "When I think about somebody mistreating an animal oh hon, I really want to get desperate with them."

And her heart hurts for the animals with the thought of the pet store getting a second chance.

Ramey, "They're not going to do em right. They didn't do em right from the beginning. It don't make no difference what they promise them. They're not going to change their ways."

The lawyer and a representative for the Pet Company have disputed claims of unsanitary and unhealthy conditions at the Hamilton Place Mall store.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Pet Company Case - Updates as of Tuesday 7/29/10

Submitted by Kristen Johnson on June 29, 2010 - 4:52pm

Testimony in the case against a mall pet store takes some twists and turns.

The manager of the Pet Company disputes claims of animal mistreatment and unsanitary conditions - but admits mistakes.

Dozens of pets were confiscated from The Pet Company earlier this month.

Store Manager Brandy Hallman testified Tuesday to defend practices and procedures carried out by her and the staff at the Pet Company in Hamilton Place Mall.

"The kennels are cleaned every morning, every evening and if we have to throughout the day," Hallman said.

Asked if it's one person's job to clean the cages, Hallman responded, "It's everyone's responsibility to clean cages throughout the day." And added she follows that responsibility "very strictly."

Hallman disputes claims of animals without water.

She says she did not throw a live hamster in a garbage disposal, as alleged by a former employee.

And says she worked twice as hard to care for the animals when the air conditioner broke a day before animals were confiscated by McKamey officers.

"It never went above 81 to my knowledge," Hallman testified.

But when pressed on whether Hallman or other employees followed a company handbook to a tee - Hallman admits they did not.

Asked if a proccedure in the manual was wrong, Hallman responded "I'm saying we don't do the checklist."

As to the claim a dead dog was put in a fridge with food, Hallman admited no one took the dog to the vet and said "obviously...because we didn't need to take it to the vet."

McKamey officials contend the store did not clean properly, had faulty cages, the wrong equipment to water pets and say temperatures reached dangerous levels for the animals.

The dogs, cats, gerbils and hamsters remain in McKamey's care until a judges decides whether or not the company can reclaim the animals.

Closing arguments begin Wednesday.

A decision from the judge could come shortly after.

By: Kate Harrison

Chattanooga: Testimony finishes in Pet Company trial

A hamster was already dead when it was tossed into a trash compactor at The Pet Company store, the manager testified today.

Brandy Hallman, manager at the Hamilton Place store, said the hamster also had been partially eaten by another hamster.

On Monday, an employee of the store testified that the hamster was still alive when it was tossed into the compactor.

Ms. Hallman was testifying during the third day of a Chattanooga City Court trial in which city officials are fighting to put the store out of business.

Witnesses finished their testimony today and closing statements are scheduled to start Wednesday at 1 p.m.

On June 15, the store was raided by officials with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center. Eighty-two pets were seized and 90 City Code violations were filed against the store, including many tied to animal cruelty.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

Pet Company Manager Admits Mistakes, Defends Practices

Manager: I Put Hamster In Compactor

A manager at the Pet Company admitted in court Tuesday that she made mistakes involving the handling of animals at the Hamilton Place store, but defended the store's overall practices.

The store was raided earlier this month after reports of unsanitary conditions and harsh treatment of animals.

Monday, former store employee Ashley Knight said she saw the store put a dead dog in a refrigerator where they store dog food.

The manager, Brandy Hallman, testified Tuesday that she put the dog's body in the refrigerator because she couldn’t get it to the veterinarian right away.

Knight also testified that the manager put a live hamster in a trash compactor. Tuesday, Hallman admitted putting the animal in the compactor, but said the hamster was already dead and had been partially eaten by its cage mates.

“There was nothing else for me to do,” Hallman testified.

But Hallman also defended her work at the store. She said she followed procedures as spelled out in the store’s manual.

McKamey officers testified they found animals living in filthy cages and that the store was using unsafe cleaning products. Hallman disagreed, saying they consistently used a bleach and water solution and at times, Lysol.

However, the day of the raid, Hallman admits the store had run out of bleach, and they were using anti-bacterial Fabuloso instead.

Another one of the main complaints was the heat inside a back isolation room. The air conditioning in the store was broken and the operations manager of Hamilton Place Mall testified Tuesday he never got a call from Pet Company about it. Defense lawyers pointed out that the store is not required to contact the mall operations manager, eventhough the manager says 90% of the stores do when problems like that arise.

Hallman testified the temperature in the store did not go above 81 degrees the day before the raid. She says they were constantly checking the animals dehydration, and did not see any animals panting the day before the raid.

The veterinarian technician who works at The Pet Company testified as well to the health of another hamster and a dog that went on to die. She says they consistently notify a vet whenever an animal's health is in imminent danger, but she didn't deem either situation necessary.

On cross examination earlier Tueday, defense lawyers challenged McKamey executive director Karen Walsh on their practices, questioning Walsh about several puppies that died in the back of an animal services vehicle, and about the outbreak of kennel cough earlier this year.

Defense attorneys also questioned McKamey's motivation for the raid and pointed to the website as an example. The day they confiscated the animals, Walsh said McKamey's number one priority was the well-being of the pets. However, defense lawyers said one day after the raid, a volunteer posted a link on McKamey's website to a petition telling people to sign it if they wanted to get the Pet Company shut down. The volunteer says that was her language alone and McKamey knew nothing about it.

Closing arugments will begin Wednesday at 1:00. Depend on us for updates here on and on air.

For up to the minute updates, you can follow NewsChannel 9's Tanya Mendis inside the courtroom on twitter

Pet store scrutiny continues

By: Monica Mercer

A manager of The Pet Company at Hamilton Place mall threw a hamster in a trash compactor because of the animal's history of fighting with other hamsters.

The hamster was still alive, a former employee testified Monday during the second day of a Chattanooga City Court trial in which city officials are fighting to put the store out of business.

The detail about the hamster's life made Linda Eddlemon with the East Tennessee Animal Alliance squirm in her seat and silently gasp in horror.

She said after the proceeding ended for the day that such actions of store employees prove that the business had little regard for the well-being of the animals it was trying to sell.

Similar fears by city officials led officers with the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center to raid The Pet Company on June 15, seizing 82 pets and slapping it with 90 City Code violations, including many tied to animal cruelty.

McKamey officials said the store, among other things, operated without air conditioning, failed to properly water its dogs, let them wallow in feces and urine and didn't even follow its own guidelines outlining the proper care of the animals.

"We would really like to see this store shut down," said Ms. Eddlemon, who volunteers for the Animal Alliance, a local nonprofit organization that strives to educate people on the treatment of animals.

The Pet Company is fighting to get all of the animals back and is expected to present its side of the case today as the trial continues.

An inspector with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture already has recommended that the store's license to operate be suspended after a June 22 inspection found many of the same alleged violations still in place.

But lawyers for United Pet Supply, the New Jersey-based parent of The Pet Company, have argued from the beginning that the store follows federal guidelines concerning how pet stores should be run and therefore did not violate any local city codes.

As proof on Monday, Pet Company lawyer Andrew Pippenger succeeded in making McKamey Director of Operations Paula Hurn admit that the temperature never got above 85 degrees on the day she and her colleagues raided the store. According to Mr. Pippenger, federal law states a pet store's temperature must not go above 85 degrees for more than four consecutive hours if dogs are present.

Still, Ms. Hurn testified the store that day was "as hot as blue blazes" and seemed unfazed by Mr. Pippenger's suggestions that The Pet Company did things by the book.

Ms. Hurn's boss, McKamey Executive Director Karen Walsh, will be cross-examined by Mr. Pippenger today, but also did not waver Monday in her testimony about the store's conditions.

Ms. Walsh in particular testified about the way the store tried to water its dogs. Dogs must drink from a pool of water because of how their tongues help scoop the liquid into their mouths, Ms. Walsh testified. The Pet Company, however, tried to water its dogs with water bottles that required a sucking action on a tube.

Not only were the water bottles nonfunctional, Ms. Walsh said, but it was almost impossible for the dogs to get adequate hydration because of the anatomy of their mouths.

Ms. Walsh showed a video of a dog named "Cali" who she said "desperately" tried to get water from one of the water bottles for five minutes with no luck.

"All the dogs were dehydrated," Ms. Walsh testified.

Pet Store Manager Punished Hamster For Fighting By Dropping It Down Garbage Compactor While Alive, Former Employee Says

McKamey Director Says Lab Tests Showed Dogs Seized From Isolation Area Had Disease Transmittable To Humans

by Judy Frank
posted June 28, 2010

A former kennel worker at a Hamilton Place pet store took the stand in Chattanooga City Court Monday to describe the alleged systematic abuse and neglect of animals that she said led her to report her employer to officials at McKamey Animal Center.

In one case, Ashley Knight recalled, the manager of the store disposed of one of two hamsters involved in a fight by dropping the live animal down the garbage compactor.

Another time, she said, one of the dogs for sale at the store died. Workers responded by putting the body in a plastic bag and sticking it in the refrigerator where food was kept.

Her testimony came during the second day of a hearing before Judge Sherry Paty, who is charged with deciding whether to return the seized animals to the pet store as its owners have demanded.

The trial will resume Tuesday morning, and attorneys for the store are expected to begin presenting their rebuttal evidence later that day.

The young whistleblower, whose job at The Pet Company #29 began on April 10, testified that store officials learned the day after she went to McKamey early in June that she had done so.

"Why would you do that?" the store manager asked angrily, Ms. Knight recalled.

McKamey director Karen Walsh testified that Ms. Knight was "crying in my office" as she described the way animals at the store were treated.

She said the conditions Ms. Knight described to her were verified a few days later during a surprise joint inspection conducted by animal shelter officials and a representative of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

The findings included the discovery of several dogs suffering from Giardia, a highly contagious disease that affects humans as well as animals.

The inspection revealed a combination of 85+ degree temperatures, high ammonia levels (due to large amounts of feces and urine) and lack of accessible drinking water, it was testified.

The conditions to which the animals were subjected left many of them dehydrated, lethargic and stressed, Ms. Walsh said.

Conditions were particularly bad in a dirty, poorly ventilated isolation unit where sick animals were kept, she said, recalling one Shepherd standing miserably in a cage filled with "voluminous diarrhea."

"The stench in the room was awful," Ms. Walsh recalled. "I don't know what the ammonia level was . . . but it was burning my lungs . . . Sweat was rolling off us while we were back there."

Although she had not planned to seize any animals when she went to the store to conduct the inspection, she explained, she changed her mind after learning that the air conditioning was not working and would not be repaired that day.

"We found animals lying on their backs, panting, due to the heat," she said. "They were dehydrated, listless . . . and in danger (of dying)."

Lab tests done after the animals were seized and taken to McKamey revealed that the Shepherd and at least three other dogs all had Giardia, a highly contagious disease to which both people and animals are susceptible, it was stated.

She said the store was out of bleach, which its own employee manual instructs workers to use to disinfect water containers, cages and other surfaces.

Ms. Walsh and other witnesses said the manager of the Pet Store and some other employees were belligerent during the inspection, and objected vigorously when it was decided to remove the animals.

"They said we were removing their corporate assets," Ms. Walsh recalled. "They asked for the names of our employees so they could take legal action against them later."

McKamey: Pet Company Dogs "Infected"

Story by Callie Starnes

Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- We still don't know what the future holds for the animals seized from a Chattanooga pet store.

Monday a former employee took the stand against the pet company and we learned how sick some of those pets were.

The former employee, and three McKamey officials all told similar stories.

All noted pets without water, broken cages, and extreme heat.

But for the first time we heard about infected pets that could pose a risk to people.

Two McKamey employees described the heat, dehydrated animals, and inadequate cleaning solution found inside the store June 15th.

"It was really, really hot. I noticed that there was a lot of waste still in with the animals. I noticed a lot of animals laying on their backs and panting," says Amy Nelson, adoption coordinator for McKamey.

Video taken inside the store shows how unresponsive the animals were when McKamey officials arrived.

One dog can be seen struggling to get water from a bottle for at least five minutes.

It's something former Pet Company employee Ashley Knight says she's seen before.

Knight called McKamey to report abuse, giving them enough evidence to go in and take dozens of dogs and pocket pets.

"A lot of the sales people wouldn't pick up the feces, and would let the dogs walk in it and they would always be sick," says Knight.

Knight described the body of a dog being put into a refrigerator where cat food was stored and the disposal of an injured hamster.

"One, I guess it had gotten in a fight with another hamster or something, and the manager put it in the compact machine, like the garbage compactor," says Knight.

But perhaps most alarming were test results. McKamey Executive Director Karen Walsh testified to four dogs testing positive for giardia, a parasite that is transferable to humans.

It's testimony City Councilman Jack Benson says confirms complaints he's received over the last decade.

"It's regrettable it took this long to do something about it, because a lot of people were calling me and telling me they came out of the store just sick thinking about the conditions being endured by the animals," says Benson.

Testimony will resume Tuesday morning.

Judge Paty is expected to decide if the pets will be returned.

That's not all Pet Company is fighting.

The State Agriculture Department served the Pet Company with an intent to suspend its dealer license last week.

The company has 10 days to respond.

[Read more about the first day of the hearing]

McKamey Animal Shelter, along with agents from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and the Chattanooga Police Department raided The Pet Company in Hamilton Place Mall, seizing nearly all of the animals in the store.

The raid took place after receiving numerous reports that the animals in the store were in unsanitary conditions and the pets being sold were sick.

Eyewitness News reporter Callie Starnes is in the courtroom. The latest information will be available on

Former Pet Company Employee Testifies To "Sick" Animals At Store

Submitted by Kristen Johnson on June 28, 2010 - 5:15pm

A whistle blower takes the stand in a case against a mall pet store.

Former employee Ashley Knight testified against the Pet Company.

Knight says animals were sick and conditions too hot inside the store.

She went to McKamey with her complaints, who began an investigation.

Knight described several incidents involving mistreatment of animals including the disposal of a dead dog saying it was put inside a fridge were pet food was stored.

She also recounts an incident with a hamster.

"One got into a fight with another hamster and the manager put it down a garbage disposal."

Asked, "Was it dead or alive at that time it was put in the disposal?" Knight responded,"It was still alive."

McKamey officials showed the judge video inside the store.

They point to broken cages, dehydrated and dead animals.

A lawyer for the Pet Company disputes these claims.

The hearing resumes Tuesday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hamilton Place Pet Store Charged With Mistreatment Of Animals Graded “F” By Better Business Bureau - The

by Judy Frank
posted June 27, 2010

The Hamilton Place pet store, from which more than 80 animals were removed on June 15, received an F on its report card from the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga, according to BBB documents.

The Pet Company #29 “is not a BBB Accredited Business,” the consumer protection organization noted in an online report on the pet store, which is the subject of investigations by both the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and McKamey Animal Center of Chattanooga.

The failing grade given the pet store by BBB is unrelated to the recent investigations.

"BBB has no information regarding government actions at this time,” according to the online report.

However, the organization noted, Chattanooga’s BBB received two complaints involving the pet store over the past 36 month.

In one instance, the company did not even bother to respond, the local BBB reported.

According to the Better Business Bureau of New York, The Pet Company is one of several names under which the corporation United Pet Supply Inc. – headquartered in New Windsor, N.Y. – operates.

United Pet Supply, like its Chattanooga subsidiary, is not a BBB accredited business, the report out of New York indicates.

The corporation operates under a variety of names, it notes, including Docktor Pet Centers; Doctor Pet Centers (several locations); The Pet Company; and United Pet Supply.

Under those various names, United Pet Supply Inc. reportedly operates 27 pet and pet supply retail stores in the eastern United States, from New England to Atlanta.

Steve Zerilli, listed as president of the corporation, also is active in organizations such as the Pet Industry Joint Action Council, according to the publication “The Kennel Spotlight: An in-depth Look At The Heart of the Professional Kennel Industry.”

On Sept. 28, 2007, according to a Kennel Spotlight ad, Mr. Zerilli and PIJAC’s general counsel and executive vice president, Marshall Meyers, were scheduled to give a joint presentation to attendees at the Breeder Educational Conference.

Their topic: “Animal Care Guidelines for the Retail Pet Industry.”

Not in the audience, apparently, were the regulators and pet welfare representatives who have filed numerous complaints over the decades against Mr. Zerilli’s United Pet Supply Inc. and its subsidiaries, particularly for mistreatment of the animals they sell.

In 1993 one of those subsidiaries – Docktor Pet, which had 300 franchises just a few years earlier – filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or liquidation.

Docktor Pet’s financial woes grew out of nationwide bad publicity – including exposes by the television show 20/20, Life magazine and People magazine – featuring an investigation by the Companion Animal Protection Society into the retail chain’s ties to puppy mills and its widespread neglect and abuse of animals.

Docktor Pet’s parent organization, United Pet Supply Inc., has rebounded from that financial blow, however.

According to a report by BNET Industries, United Pet Supply has eight employees and did $15 million in sales during the latest fiscal year.

While United Pet Supply’s headquarters are in New Windsor, N.Y., “Our records show it was established in 1977 and incorporated in Delaware,” BNET noted.

Meanwhile, at Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, The Pet Company # 29 was the subject of one complaint to the local Better Business Bureau regarding sales practices.

The company addressed the complaint issues, BBB noted, but “The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to BBB.”

The bureau also received a complaint involving issues with refunds or exchanges at the pet store, its report said.

In that case, it noted, “Company failed to respond to BBB to resolve or address the complaint issues.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pet Company Tries to Get Seized Animals Back

June 24, 2010 2:17 PM
John Madewell
Ten people are scheduled to testify in the Pet Company hearing in Judge Sherry Paty's court.

This is a direct response to the McKamey Animal Center removing its animals on June 15th.

The hearing started around 10:30 Thursday morning and is to determine what happens to the animals.

However due to the number of witnesses and time of testimony, Judge Paty limited testimony to three people. The hearing will resume next Monday morning at 11:30.

Executive Vice President of United Pet Supply Company, Incorporated, Chris Brooks flew down from New Jersey for this hearing.

An attorney for McKamey says on the day of removal, the temperature was 85 degrees or hotter in the isolation room.

Brooks acknowledged one of the two AC compressor's at the store wasn't working. He added he checked the temperature after he arrived a day after the animals were removed. Brooks says a thermometer read 79 degrees. On the 17th of June, Brooks said the air conditioning unit was repaired.

McKamey attorney Mark Litchford said in opening arguments that the AC not working for two weeks was one of five conditions meeting removal requirements.

Additional details in a live report on NewsChannel 9 at 5:00 and 6:00.

Chattanooga: Inspector suggests Pet Company's license be suspended by Todd Smith

A Tennessee Department of Agriculture inspector has suggested that the license for The Pet Company store in Hamilton Place be suspended.

Inspector Joe Burns re-visited the store a week after more than 30 animals were removed due to unsafe conditions.

The store received 43 citations that contained 90 violations during a June 15 inspection in which the McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center confiscated dogs and an assortment of rabbits and hamsters.

A hearing is taking place today in Chattanooga City Court to examine the violations and determine whether the animals should be returned to the store or stay with McKamey.

For further updates, return to throughout the day.

UPDATE: Pet Company VP takes stand
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – An executive for the pet store raided by state and local officials over animal abuse allegation has taken the stand in his company's defense.

Chris Brooks, vice president for United Pet Supply Company, tells a Hamilton County judge that the air conditioning at The Pet Company in Hamilton Place Mall was not broken, but concedes that a compressor was down when the was raided on June 15th.

McKamey Animal Shelter alleges that the air conditioning had not worked in the store for more than two weeks.

Attorneys for McKamey Animal Shelter alleged that the animals at The Pet Company store were stored in hot conditions, the animals' fur was matted with feces and they had not been taken out to exercise.

Agents from the state agriculture department and McKamey Animal Shelter raided The Pet Company in Hamilton Place on June 15th and seized all of the animals in the store.

An emergency injunction attempt by The Pet Company last Tuesday failed and McKamey was able to keep the seized animals until today's hearing.

Eyewitness News has a crew in the courtroom and will have the latest as it becomes available on

Pet Company facing license suspension

By: Todd South
Since the June 15 removal of more than 82 pets from the Pet Company at Hamilton Place, a state inspector has recommended that the store's license be suspended.

During the first day of a Chattanooga City Court trial before Judge Sherry Paty, Tennessee Department of Agriculture inspector Joe Burns said he had gone back to the store on June 22 and found some of the previous 90 violations still evident.

"I suggest they start proceedings to suspend their license," Mr. Burns told the court.

Attorneys Harry Cash and Mark Litchford, representing McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center, pointed to a list of 43 citations, which contained 90 violations found by both Mr. Burns and Chattanooga animal services officer Marvin Nicholson.

Mr. Nicholson described an isolation room for sick animals as an 8-foot-by-10-foot closet that was hot with little or no water for the pets.

One German shepherd in the room had diarrhea, some animals had "matted feces" in their hair, according to witness statements. Multiple cages had broken cage bottoms with waste trays leaking urine, witnesses said.

Andrew Pippenger, attorney for United Pet Supply, the New Jersey-based parent company of Pet Company, argued that, since the store was inspected at 8 a.m., the staff had not had time to restock food and water nor do morning cleaning routines.

Christopher Brooks, a general vice president of United Pet Supply, told the court he arrived in Chattanooga the day after the pet removal to talk with the store's staff and evaluate perceived problems at the store.

Mr. Brooks said he first learned of many of the problems upon arrival but had known for "several weeks" that the air conditioning unit not operating fully.

"All that time you knew there were animals in the store didn't you?" asked Mr. Cash.

"Yes," Mr. Brooks replied.

The unit has two compressors, one of which hadn't worked for weeks leading up to the animal removal. Mr. Brooks said he'd signed paperwork to repair the unit but it had not been completed by June 15, the day of the animal removal.

On June 17, he said, the unit was repaired.

Animals removed:

* 32 dogs

* 6 rabbits

* 1 ferret

* 1 guinea pig

* 42 pocket pets -- hamsters, mice

Source: McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center
McKamey lawyers also asked about a Yorkshire terrier that had died within days of arriving at the store and a hamster that was found dead in a cage removed from the store.

Mr. Brooks told the court he did not learn of the dog's death until he arrived in Chattanooga.

The dog came to the store from a Kansas breeding organization on June 1, he confirmed in court. On June 3, the dog was deemed fit for sale by the store's contracted veterinarian and by June 7 the dog was dead, he said.

Mr. Pippenger focused much of his opening statement and other comments to federal guidelines that call for ventilation if animals are kept in an room at 85 degrees or higher for longer than four hours.

Hamilton Place Pet Store Not Subject To Chattanooga Animal Care Laws, Attorney Pippinger Tells Judge
by Judy Frank
posted June 24, 2010

Attorneys for a Hamilton Place Mall pet store did not bother to contest testimony that animals in the establishment were kept in cages stacked in piles, or that many of the containers designed to hold feces and urine in the cages were cracked and broken, enabling the waste from one cage to leak onto the animals in the cages below.

Likewise, they did not try to disprove allegations that The Pet Company also violated numerous other city regulations, including mandates that animals be supplied with food and water, kept in sanitary conditions and receive veterinary care when they are ill.

Rather, attorney Andy Pippinger argued on behalf of the store and its parent company, United Pet Supply Inc. of New Windsor, N.Y., it doesn’t matter how many Chattanooga regulations the store violates because those regulations do not apply to it.

It is the National Code of Animal Regulations that United Pet and its retail outlets must follow, Mr. Pippinger told City Judge Sherry Paty.

The attorney also gave short shrift to the recommendation of an animal health technician for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture – who frankly admitted that he is not familiar with the state codes he was hired to enforce – that the state revoke The Pet Company’s permit.

Arguing that state and local inspectors had proven no violations of the federal code, Mr. Pippinger demanded that the judge “summarily dismiss” the charges against his client and order the return of more than 30 animals seized by McKamey Animal Center during a June 15 raid.

“I’m going to deny the motion to dismiss,” Judge Paty said calmly.

Testimony in the lengthy hearing, which will resume Monday morning, indicated that McKamey has received numerous complaints regarding alleged abuse of animals at the pet store, and has repeatedly contacted the store’s manager about the necessity of providing better care.

None of the recommended changes was made, according to McKamey records.

The day concluded with testimony from United Pet Supply Corp. executive vice president Christopher Brooks, who said he regularly visits the firm’s 22 retail outlets in order to ensure they are following company policies.

He said he was informed June 15 that McKamey officials were at the Chattanooga store seizing animals, and began to make arrangements to travel here from his home in New Jersey.

When he arrived the following morning, he said, he discovered that the air conditioning unit in the store was not broken, as inspectors had claimed. One of the unit’s two compressors was out of order, he said, but has since been repaired.

He said United Pet Supply employees are expected to “self-train” in animal husbandry and care by reading a series of three manuals prepared by the company, and then taking the exams at the end of each manual.

There are ten questions at the end of both the first and second manuals, he said, and 15 at the end of the third.

Animal health technician Joe Burns of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, who said he has held his current job for four years and worked in animal husbandry for more than 35, testified that he accompanied McKamey employees to the store on June 15, when animals there were seized.

Although it was only 7 a.m. when they arrived at the facility, Mr. Burns said, “The thing that hit me immediately when we walked in was it was extremely hot in there.”

He said store employees explained that one of the compressors in the air conditioning unit had been out of operation for some time.

During his subsequent inspection, Mr. Burns said, he discovered a variety of violations including water bowls that were dirty and/or empty, animals with feces matted in their fur and numerous other unsanitary conditions.

Under cross examination, however, Attorney Pippinger made mincemeat of most of the testimony given by the Department of Agriculture employee, who had admitted casually on direct examination that he is not familiar with the state codes he was hired to enforce.

“What’s this mean?” Mr. Pippinger asked at one point, pointing to an abbreviation on the inspection sheet officer Burns said he fills out each time he inspects a facility.

“I don’t know,” the agriculture employee replied. “I’ve never used it.”

Mr. Burns remained unshaken, however, about the numerous violations he observed on June 15 and again during a follow-up visit to the store on June 22.

When he returned to his office on June 22, he said, he contacted the state department of agriculture office to make his report.

“I suggested that they start proceedings to suspend (The Pet Company’s) permit,” he said.

Please help Sally live!

Sally was rescued by a friend of mine in Chattanooga, TN. She was saved with minutes to spare from a shelter, and has tested positive for heartworms. She was rescued by an individual that will be will be funding Sally's care on her own...Please read Sally's story and help if you amount is too small, and any amount is greatly appreciated.

From Kelly-

When I first saw her she had less than 4 hours left to live. She had been in a high kill shelter in South Carolina for 10 days and her time was up. She ended up on my Face book news feed and had been cross posted by countless numbers of people I don’t even know that were pleading for someone to save her life. I get so many of these posts daily and it is so overwhelming and disheartening to me that I have on several occasions “hid” the groups and people that send them from my newsfeed. On this particular morning, against all odds, Moonshine appeared. Something about her really stirred me. She had such a sweet look about her and brindle shaped heart patch on her side. I immediately acted and offered to foster her if someone could pull her from the shelter.

Things got crazy fast at this point and a bit confusing. With the help of a few good friends in the Rescue world and many e-mails, phone calls, paperwork, tears & frustration we saved Moonshine with only 30 minutes to spare. The toughest 30 minutes of my life. At that moment all contact was lost and no calls or e-mails returned. My stomach was in knots with worry that we didn’t do all that was necessary to get her pulled to safety. My friend assured me it was a good sign that they were busy taking care of her & changing her status but my mind was going crazy thinking that wires got crossed and it was too late. When I finally got word she was alive & safe I bawled like a baby!

From that moment on we were connected. My husband had no clue what transpired that morning and neither of us knew what all we were in for but it didn’t matter to us we just wanted to get her out of that place. We took a Friday off of work and drove over 4 hours to pick her up. When they bought Moonshine out she saw us amongst all the other people there & made a bee line straight for us like we were old pals. When we were in the car trying to get her settled in for the 4 hour drive back home Eric Clapton was singing “Lay down Sally, rest here in my arms” at the exact moment I was coaxing her to lay down and telling her that everything was OK now. She has been called Sally from that point on and likes it rather well.

Sally has come a long way since being caught and sent to the po po for “free roaming”. Unfortunately, she has a long road ahead of her still. She was tested positive for Heart Worms and has to have treatments to save her life. So my question here is that cross posting saved her life once, can it save her again? We have pulled her from the shelter and been fostering her. She will undergo treatments in 6 more weeks. Our funds are exhausted and we are pleading for Sally’s life again. She deserves to live. She is such a sweet girl and has lots of LOVE to give. It is so evident on her by not just one large heart shaped patch but she is loaded with spots and many of which are heart shaped as well. If you can, please make a small donation to help her. If you can not please cross post this sweetheart. It saved her once and I know it can again.

Donations can be sent by check directly to the Vet’s office or credit card donations can be made by phone to them at:

Northgate Animal Hospital
1600 Hamill Road
Chattanooga, TN 37343

Just tell them to pull the chart for Sally Andrews’ donation for heart worm treatments. Thank you so much in advance for you help!

Kelly & David Andrews

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More on The Pet Company - Hamilton Place Mall- Chattanooga, TN

I know from personal experience that this place is hell for the animals kept there- anyone with half a brain knows that.

For anyone who does not have half a brain- all you have to do is read about the recent happenings to know that this place did not care about the animals in their care- they kept their air conditioning off for three weeks IN TENNESSEE, IN JUNE for crying out loud! When asked about this by a concerned party, they actually had the stupidity to say that the animals GOT COLD AT NIGHT....hello.....can you say adjust the temperature?

I have seen pictures of dead puppies in the back room, pictures of sick puppies, heard numerous personal accounts of people who bought dogs from this place and the dogs were ridden with health problem after health problem- many dying at a young age. Some will say that's what they get for buying a dog from a pet shop, but not everyone knows where these dogs come from. Many don't know what a puppy broker is, they don't know these dogs are shipped in via tractor trailer from states and states away, bred by "high volume breeders." High volume breeders who are in it for the $$$$$ and the $$$ alone. I didn't know any of this when the first place opened at Hamilton Place Mall and I was still appalled at the conditions...three or four puppies in a cage together, eating feces, smearing it all over each other and all over the glass, not having a place to lie down in the cage without being covered in it...bloody, runny poop, gooey eyes, lethargic pups...anything but what a typical puppy should be...they sit in those cages until they are sold or get sick enough and die there- who knows if they ever even got to breathe fresh air after being unloaded from the truck.

I am perfectly aware of the fact that without breeders we will not have purebred dogs- but RESPONSIBLE breeders take care of their puppies- they don't sell them to a broker, or to the first Joe Blow with the money. Google the Hunte Corporation, or Lambriar...get a USDA inspection on where that puppy in the window really came will get a rude awakening about that cute little puppy in the window.

I just read somewhere that "I should know better" about this situation- that this was the "typical all pet shops are bad" situation....I'm sorry, but conditions that could have "BAKED BRAINS"....... are you KIDDING me? I know from personal experience as I stated before that this place was NOT the kind of place anyone that even remotely cared about animals would want anything to do with, so I really don't think "I" am the one who should know better...anyone with half a brain should know better.

Pet Company Conditions Could Have "Baked Brains"

June 15, 2010 10:59 PM
Jessica Oh

The Department of Agriculture and McKamey say the Pet Company had unlivable conditions for animals. The Department of Agriculture claims the animals were in 85 degree heat while in their cages.

Veterinarian at East Ridge Animal Hospital, Drew Smith says that can cause a condition called heat stress.

“It’s a sudden increase in body temperature above 104 degrees. It’s different than a fever. A fever, an animal can adjust to. But heat stress is a sudden increase so animals can’t adjust.”

And if animals can not adjust, that could mean serious damage.

“The symptoms that we see are neurological symptoms because it’s essentially baking the brain and dogs in particular can have bloody diarrhea and vomiting because it causes them to go into shock.”

In court, McKamey said bleach was used in a way that could have been hazardous.

“If an animal ingests bleach, it’s very corrosive. It can be irritating to the mouth and intestines.”

And overall sanitary conditions at the Pet Company were questioned as well. McKamey said some animals were found in broken or dirty cages.

“If the feces stays in the cage, it can be a source of reinfection and then urine can essentially scald the skin.”

Michelle Sipsy visited the Pet Company and she was so concerned with what she saw that she demanded the manager provide answers.

“I asked if they had ever been through an inspection and she said yes they passed all of it. So I asked for some evidence or some papers or something, and she said she didn’t have to show me that.”

Sipsy says she also asked the manager if the animals were ever let out of their cages. She says, both a manager and attendant said the animals were only let out while cleaning the cages.

“They were laying on the bottom of the cages and a few of them were whimpering and when you walked up and looked at them, you could just see they were miserable.”

Smith says if animals are left in a confined space for a days at a time, they can develop a symptom called, cage crazy.

“That’s when they circle around and around and actually become very aggressive. It can be detrimental if an animal stays in a cage for a long period of time.”

Companion Animal Hospital off Lee Highway works with the Pet Company and does the veterinary work for the pet store.

Earlier Newschannel9 went to the Companion Animal Hospital, workers there declined to do an on camera interview but said they had a good working relationship with the Pet Company and did not tend to any animals that seemed abused.

Pet Store Whistleblower Describes 'Pitiful' Dogs and Public Deception

June 16, 2010 6:32 PM
Tanya Mendis

What one former worker at The Pet Company saw still haunts her.

"I think it's so pitiful it makes me want to cry. No dog should have to live walking in its own fecal matter. It's disgusting and i'ts wrong," the young woman says.

She says her reason for coming forward is simple: If she didn't, no one else would. But because she's worried about compromising McKamey's case, we're hiding her identity until she testifies next week.

The former employee's love of dogs is what led her to start working at the store in Hamilton Place mall: It's also what led her to call McKamey after what she saw.

"They can't speak for themselves. They can't say help me or do anything. No one else was gonna help 'em."

She blew the whistle. Tuesday, McKamey animal services officers and the department of agriculture investigated and eventually removed 37 dogs and 26 rabbits, ferrets and gerbils. They recorded temperatures in the back room in excess of 85 degrees, and found dirty, empty water bowls and broken cages; something this worker says she saw every day, and worse.

When asked if she ever saw sick animals, she replied: "Oh yeah. Definitely.They were hidden so no one else could see, customer wise." Something she says, was misleading to the public. "People have told customers things that were so far beyond the truth."

NewsChannel 9 was there outside of city court as the executive director of McKamey, Karen Walsh, dropped off a heavy stack of citations against The Pet Company Wednesday.

It's been an overwhelming week for McKamey. On top of the Pet Company problems, McKamey took two dozen cats taken from a suspected animal hoarder earlier this week.

"It depletes us greatly," Walsh says.

But it's a cost that's much less than what could've happened, if this worker, didn't speak up.

"I was just trying to help. I'm not some huge hero or anything. I just did what I believed in, and i was trying to help them."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Animals housed, awaiting vet inspection (The Pet Company/McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center)

Staff photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press
McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center employees unload animals taken from The Pet Company at Hamilton Place mall on Tuesday.

By: Todd South

Eighty-two animals removed Tuesday from a local pet store were cooling in the 72 degrees of McKamey Animal Care and Adoption Center on Wednesday.

"They're all going to go through the process of our vet checking them," said McKamey Executive Director Karen Walsh.

The animals, a mixture of dogs, rabbits, a ferret and "pocket pets" such as hamsters and mice, were removed from The Pet Company at Hamilton Place mall Tuesday after state officials and center employees issued 40 citations over the health and safety of the animals.

The most severe problem noted was no air conditioning for more than three weeks.

Ms. Walsh and a Tennessee Department of Agriculture inspector went to The Pet Company at 7 a.m. Tuesday and started removing animals, but they were called to court Tuesday afternoon after attorney Andrew Pippenger, representing the pet store's parent company, filed an injunction to stop the removal. The request was denied, and McKamey employees returned to the store and worked until 10 p.m. to remove the animals and place them at McKamey, Ms. Walsh said.

Neither Mr. Pippenger nor United Pet Supply, the New Jersey-based company that owns the pet store, could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Local residents began a petition to close the store shortly after its 2004 opening and have gathered more than 4,200 signatures in support.

Ms. Walsh said McKamey has received complaints since December, and her staff members have visited the store seven times in six months.

Hamilton Place spokeswoman Catharine Wells said mall managers were "unaware of the recent conditions inside the store and are working closely with local authorities and The Pet Company to resolve the situation."

Citing tenant confidentiality agreements, Ms. Wells said she could not answer whether there had been previous complaints made to the mall about the store's conditions.

A judge in Chattanooga City Court will hear the case on June 24 at 9 a.m. At that time, McKamey will seek custody of the animals, Ms. Walsh said, and, if granted, they will be adopted out to qualified applicants.

"We've actually had a tremendous response of people who want to give these animals homes," she said.

Continue reading by following this link to a related story:

Article: Pet store animals taken to McKamey after months of complaints

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Pet Company- Hamilton Place Mall- Chattanooga, TN

I posted links yesterday to various news stories on this subject, and the more I read about this, the madder it makes me that it took SO long for something to be done about this situation. Why is that? The news story on wrcbtv states

"For months Eyewitness News has been investigating this story. A pet store, accused of keeping animals in unfit conditions, and ignoring repeated warnings to clean up their act."

For months? Did wrcbtv forget the story they did in 2004? Yes, 2004 when the Pet Company first opened and concerned citizens tried to call attention to the conditions in this place.

This is an email I received in 2004 from wrcbtv-

WRCB - Channel 3
Assignment Desk
900 Whitehall Road
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(423) 267-5412
----- Original Message -----
From: WRCB Newsroom
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004 12:11 PM



WRCB - Channel 3
Assignment Desk

The petition mentioned in some of the stories was stared over FIVE years ago-

Close Pet Shop In Chattanooga Tn.

as of today it has 4282 signatures, maybe someone will pay attention now- at lease the right people with the authority to DO something about this.

CBL didn't pay attention in 2004- below is an email I received when I contacted them about the conditions-

Sent: Monday, September 20, 2004 1:15 PM

Ms. Huggins:

We always appreciate the comments from our shoppers and strive to
provide them avenues were they can express their concerns.

The person you need to talk with at The Pet Company is Steve Zerilli.

His phone number is 845-561-7770 ext. 204. Please feel free to give him a
call about your concerns with The Pet Company.

Thanks again for contacting us and shopping at Hamilton Place.

Jeff Odom
Marketing Director
Hamilton Place

This was my experience at The Pet Company on November 10, 2004-

November 10 2004

I was banned from going in the Pet Company due to taking a picture of the white Boxer. Heather Freeman told me she would have me arrested, and called Mall Security which included a Chattanooga City Police Officer, Officer J Kerns. It is not stated anywhere in the store or in the mall code of conduct that photography in the mall is prohibited. I have emailed and called the mall several times regarding this, no one has responded. I was told by the store manager that every time I visit the store “I cause her problems by calling Animal Services and the USDA. I have caused her SO many problems every week, am I not a member of PETA?” Officer Kerns told me “we all know why you are in there taking pictures, we all know these dogs come from puppy mills.”

(Just for the record I am not, have never been, and WILL NEVER BE a member of PETA).

After doing a little research on just exactly where these dogs were coming from, I found the following infomation on specific puppies at The Pet Company during my visits and their original "breeders."

Golden Retriever pup-Breeder-Carla Pederson USDA license number is 46-A-0037
Located in SD.

Inspected on 2/9/2004-According to USDA inspection reports-

Outside runs have packed snow and fecal matter in them. This could cause disease to 29 animals by micro-organisms.

Shredded paper and empty food bags are present, which could attract vermin, thus causing disease to 29 animals.

Previous inspection was 6/20/2001. That means this “breeder” went almost 3 years without being inspected by the USDA.

*Pug puppy-
Jonathan and Jean Adwell-breeders
43-A-2971 and 43-A-3630

Inspection date-7/23/2004-

Rust noted in various areas of facility which does not allow for proper cleaning and sanitizing.
Three of eight weaned puppies in stack cages with their feet passing through the 1x1 wire mesh.

Temperature was 21 degrees Fahrenheit inside the dog houses, dogs were without bedding which is violation of the Animal Welfare Act, due to the temp. Bedding needs to be added and kept clean and dry when temps are this low.

*Australian Shepard
Wilda Trusley

Inspection 2/25/04
No non compliances

Inspection 4/1/03- All the dog houses need wind and rain breaks added to protect animals from the direct rain. Affects 32 adult dogs.

3/12/02-Pre license inspection-No regulated activities until USDA license is issued.

*Pug puppy
Connie Love

Attending veterinarian has not made annual inspection. This is in violation of the AWA. There is one dog with an ear injury that must be seen by veterinarian.

*Siberian Husky
Marsha Cox

Flooring in building is rusting out and has missing parts; this could cause injury to two dogs.

Shepards can stick their heads through cattle panel in use. One pen is housing three Boxers, there needs to be a dog house added or one dog removed. There is not enough room currently in the dog house for all three. Pen holding three terriers requires 2x the amount of space dogs currently have.

7/9/04 Inspection

251 dogs-Last date of veterinarian visit was 2/24/03.

Adult dogs-251 Puppies-93 344 total Canine.

11/26/01- Veterinarian has not made visit in last 12 months. Boxers, Shelties, and Bassets have no shelter from the elements.

Neil Hernan


Several kennels have excessive amounts of fecal matter, most have fuzz growing out of it. Under some of the raised runs there is 2 to 4 inches of build up. Approximately 35 dogs affected.

Under several outside kennels there is a drainage problem. Water and urine is building up. Algae is growing on water puddles present.

Several outdoor kennels don’t have enough dog houses. There are 3 young Shepards to only one dog house.

In 2006, The Pet Company ran into another bit of trouble, but in GA this time-

Ga. Stores Ordered to Stop Selling Puppies

State officials ordered six Atlanta-area pet stores to stop selling
dogs after more than 130 puppies tested positive for a parasite that
can be transmitted to humans.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said he will deal "very
harshly" with the stores' New York-based chain, probably with fines.

The six stores, all in malls, are part of The Pet Company, based in
New Windsor, N.Y. In three of those stores, every puppy tested was
infected with the parasite, officials said.

The Pet Company based in New Windsor, N.Y., declined to comment

Officials learned of the problem after a Hiram resident bought a
for $800, then discovered it had a parasitic illness. The treatment
cost the woman about $900 in vet bills.

After she filed a complaint, Irvin's office found 138 of 151 puppies
tested at the six Pet Company stores were infected with Giardia, a
parasite that can be transmitted to humans. No human cases of Giardia
infection have been reported in connection with the sick puppies. The
symptoms can include diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.

Agriculture officials said the six pet stores can continue selling
other animals, but all their dogs were ordered quarantined on Tuesday.

Again, WHY SO LONG??? This is NOT new news! This has been going on for YEARS!

More from the Chattanooga Times Free Press

By Todd South
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
updated 6:22 a.m. CT, Wed., June 16, 2010
Chattanooga, Tenn. - An employee's complaint that brought a state inspector and local animal welfare officials to a mall pet store Tuesday could mean $20,000 in fines and possible closure for the store, according to state officials.

In Hamilton County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon, McKamey Animal Center Executive Director Karen Walsh said she had received more than seven complaints since December about the Pet Company in Hamilton Place mall. McKamey personnel had met with store staff six times over the last seven months to discuss the problems, she said.

In court, she read more than a dozen alleged violations of law at the store, including no air conditioning for more than three weeks, animal and human food stored together, an isolation room for sick animals that was 85 degrees and no water present for the animals.

On Tuesday, state officials and Chattanooga police helped McKamey workers remove 37 dogs and cats and 26 rodents from the store, Ms. Walsh said. She said birds and fish were left in the store because they were not severely affected by the current conditions.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which oversees pet dealers, said several major violations were found during Tuesday's raid.

Ms. Walsh and Agriculture Department animal health technician Joe Burns were called to court after Andy Pippinger, attorney for United Pet Supply, a New Jersey-based company that owns the Pet Company location, filed a petition for a court order asking that the removal be stopped and the animals returned to the store.

Mr. Pippinger questioned details of Mr. Burns' report and whether conditions met the federal standard for animal removal, which requires that animals in temperatures higher than 85 degrees for more than four hours to have a working ventilation system.

Calls to United Pet Supply headquarters were not returned.

Circuit Court Judge Neil Thomas cited state code and local statutes that give McKamey the authority to remove animals and denied Mr. Pippinger's motion.

The office of state veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher is going to review the case information and make a decision about whether action should be taken against the store over the next few days, officials said. The Pet Company received 40 citations and is subject to a $500 fine per violation. It also could see its license to operate revoked, and the store will not be allowed to sell anything except pet supplies until a judge rules on any violations, officials said.

There have been other complaints about the Pet Company since it opened in 2004. An online petition with more than 4,230 signatures calls for the store to be closed down because the dogs being sold are purchased from puppy mills and kept with "no toys, no love, little if any vet work, cheap food, foul water and filthy conditions."

"They are eating their own feces, feces is smeared on them and on the cages," the petition reads. "It is no wonder, because the cages are so small some puppies can hardly avoid lying in their own waste."

Inspectors were sent to the Pet Company location after the Department of Agriculture and McKamey received several complaints about animal treatment.

Pets including dogs, hamsters and birds were kept without air conditioning in extreme heat at the store for more than three weeks, state officials said. They said they also found dirty cages and chemicals being used for cleaning that were hazardous for animals.

"These were unhealthy conditions for the animals," said Tom Womack, spokesman for the agriculture department.

Ms. Walsh said cleaning chemicals were in unmarked bottles and no one at the store adequately could explain appropriate cleaning practices.

She told the court that when she explained her concerns, over the phone, to United Pet Supply company's vice president, the person told her that those practices were not company-approved cleaning guidelines.

The next scheduled court date is June 24, when a City Court judge will determine what happens to the two dozen animals removed from the store.

Ms. Walsh, visibly upset when talking with the media, said she couldn't predict what would happen in the upcoming court hearing but that, "if the judge charges them with neglect, they hopefully won't be selling puppies in Chattanooga."

Staff writer Joan Garrett contributed to this story.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Pet Company- Chattanooga, TN - ALL Animals Being Removed

Why in the hell it took so long for this to happen is beyond me, this place has somehow managed to stay in business after YEARS of complaints from concerned citizens/animal lovers...let's hope they are shut down FOR GOOD and the animals that were kept there are able to find new, loving homes.

From the Times Free Press

State officials and Chattanooga police are assisting the McKamey Animal Shelter in removing animals from The Pet Company at Hamilton Place mall.

The store has received “several warnings from McKamey beginning in January this year after receiving numerous complaints from employees and customers on the conditions in which the animals were being kept,” according to a Chattanooga police release.

A judge will determine what to do with the animals when store representatives are in court July 1.


Police, McKamey, Ag Dept. raid mall pet store

By WRCB Staff

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – McKamey Animal Shelter crews and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture are conducting a raid on a mall pet shop at this time.

In an email to Channel 3 Eyewitness news, Chattanooga Police say they are aiding in a raid of The Pet Company, located inside Hamilton Place Mall. CPD says crews are removing all the animals from the shop.

According to the email, The Pet Company had received several warnings from McKamey after getting numerous complaints from employees and customers about the conditions the animals were being kept in.

The Pet Company will be in court two weeks from Thursday where a judge will determine what will be done with the animals.

Eyewitness News has a crew at the mall and will have an update later in the day.

The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome by Charles Siebert

Published: June 7, 2010

On a late May afternoon last year in southwest Baltimore, a 2-year-old female pit bull terrier was doused in gasoline and set alight. A young city policewoman on her regular patrol of the neighborhood of boarded-up row houses and redbrick housing developments turned her squad car onto the 1600 block of Presbury Street and saw a cloud of black smoke rising from the burning dog. She hopped out, ran past idle onlookers and managed to put out the flames with her sweater. The dog, subsequently named Phoenix, survived for four days with burns over 95 percent of her body, but soon began to succumb to kidney failure and had to be euthanized.

It was only a matter of hours before the story, made vivid by harrowing video footage of the wounded dog, was disseminated nationwide in newspapers, TV and radio newscasts and countless Web sites. An initial $1,000 reward for the capture of the culprits would soon climb to $26,000 as people around the country followed Phoenix’s struggle for life. A gathering of people in Venice Beach, Calif., held a candlelight vigil for her. A month later, the mayor of Baltimore, Sheila Dixon, announced the creation of the Anti-Animal-Abuse Task Force to work in concert with city officials, local law enforcement and animal rights and animal-control groups to find ways to better prevent, investigate and prosecute such crimes.

The scale, speed and intensity of the response were striking. The subject of animal abuse, especially the abuse of pit bulls in dog-fighting activities, has achieved a higher profile after the 2007 arrest of the N.F.L. star Michael Vick for operating an illegal interstate dog-fighting operation in Surry County, Va. But the beleaguered pit bull is merely the most publicized victim of a phenomenon that a growing number of professionals — including police officers, prosecutors, psychologists, social workers, animal-control officers, veterinarians and dogcatchers — are now addressing with a newfound vigor: wanton cruelty toward animals. Before 1990, only six states had felony provisions in their animal-­cruelty laws; now 46 do. Two years ago, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals formed the nation’s first Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation Unit, a rolling veterinary hospital and forensic lab that travels around the country helping traditional law-enforcement agencies follow the evidentiary trails of wounded or dead animals back to their abusers.

In addition to a growing sensitivity to the rights of animals, another significant reason for the increased attention to animal cruelty is a mounting body of evidence about the link between such acts and serious crimes of more narrowly human concern, including illegal firearms possession, drug trafficking, gambling, spousal and child abuse, rape and homicide. In the world of law enforcement — and in the larger world that our laws were designed to shape — animal-cruelty issues were long considered a peripheral concern and the province of local A.S.P.C.A. and Humane Society organizations; offenses as removed and distinct from the work of enforcing the human penal code as we humans have deemed ourselves to be from animals. But that illusory distinction is rapidly fading.

“With traditional law enforcement,” Sgt. David Hunt, a dog-fighting expert with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Columbus, Ohio, told me, “the attitude has been that we have enough stuff on our plate, let the others worry about Fluffy and Muffy. But I’m starting to see a shift in that mentality now.” Hunt has traveled to 24 states around the country in order to teach law-enforcement personnel about the dog-fighting underworld, often stressing the link between activities like dog fighting and domestic violence. “You have to sell it to them in such a way that it’s not a Fluffy-Muffy issue,” he said of teaching police officers about animal-abuse issues. “It’s part of a larger nexus of crimes and the psyche behind them.”

The connection between animal abuse and other criminal behaviors was recognized, of course, long before the evolution of the social sciences and institutions with which we now address such behaviors. In his famous series of 1751 engravings, “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” William Hogarth traced the life path of the fictional Tom Nero: Stage 1 depicts Tom as a boy, torturing a dog; Stage 4 shows Tom’s body, fresh from the gallows where he was hanged for murder, being dissected in an anatomical theater. And animal cruelty has long been recognized as a signature pathology of the most serious violent offenders. As a boy, Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks; Theodore Bundy, implicated in the murders of some three dozen people, told of watching his grandfather torture animals; David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” poisoned his mother’s parakeet.

But the intuitions that informed the narrative arc of Tom Nero are now being borne out by empirical research. A paper published in a psychiatry journal in 2004, “A Study of Firesetting and Animal Cruelty in Children: Family Influences and Adolescent Outcomes,” found that over a 10-year period, 6-to-12-year-old children who were described as being cruel to animals were more than twice as likely as other children in the study to be reported to juvenile authorities for a violent offense. In an October 2005 paper published in Journal of Community Health, a team of researchers conducting a study over seven years in 11 metropolitan areas determined that pet abuse was one of five factors that predicted who would begin other abusive behaviors. In a 1995 study, nearly a third of pet-owning victims of domestic abuse, meanwhile, reported that one or more of their children had killed or harmed a pet.

The link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence is becoming so well established that many U.S. communities now cross-train social-service and animal-control agencies in how to recognize signs of animal abuse as possible indicators of other abusive behaviors. In Illinois and several other states, new laws mandate that veterinarians notify the police if their suspicions are aroused by the condition of the animals they treat. The state of California recently added Humane Society and animal-control officers to the list of professionals bound by law to report suspected child abuse and is now considering a bill in the State Legislature that would list animal abusers on the same type of online registry as sex offenders and arsonists.

When I spoke recently with Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief legal counsel of the A.S.P.C.A.’s Humane Law Enforcement department, which focuses on the criminal investigation of animal-cruelty cases in New York City, she drew a comparison between the emerging mindfulness about animal cruelty and the changing attitudes toward domestic abuse in the 1980s. “It really has only been in recent years that there’s been more free and accurate reporting with respect to animal cruelty, just like 30 years ago domestic violence was not something that was commonly reported,” she said. “Clearly every act of violence committed against an animal is not a sign that somebody is going to hurt a person. But when there’s a pattern of abusive behavior in a family scenario, then everyone from animal-control to family advocates to the court system needs to consider all vulnerable victims, including animals, and understand that violence is violence.”

For the entire article, please visit The New York Times website.