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 WRCBtv.com.