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.