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 www.newschannel9.com and on air.

For up to the minute updates, you can follow NewsChannel 9's Tanya Mendis inside the courtroom on twitter http://twitter.com/tanyamendis