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Local pet store accused of animal cruelty

POSTED June 27, 2009 3:13 p.m.
A long-time pet store in Turlock is being investigated on allegations of animal cruelty.
“There is an open investigation on an animal complaint at The Pet Shop,” said Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Nino Amirfar. “There have been allegations of animal cruelty.”
Brian Trask, a local dog owner, said he gave a statement to a Turlock Animal Control officer about his experiences with The Pet Shop in May. Trask said he was called by a groomer at the store and told he could have one of the $450 Schnauzer puppies the store was selling for free if he could “keep a secret.”
According to Trask, when he arrived at the store on May 23 he was told the puppy was suffering from heat stroke. Trask said he took the puppy home, but became worried when she started shaking and then vomiting. The next morning Trask took the puppy to Monte Vista Small Animal Clinic where, according to Dr. Renae Zumstein, she was diagnosed with neurological problems and pneumonia. Due to financial concerns, Trask relinquished the puppy to the care of the animal clinic.
“A puppy with heat stroke should have been taken to a vet immediately,” Trask said. “(The Pet Shop) doesn’t belong in the puppy business.”
Sandra Finnegan, owner of The Pet Shop, said she has no knowledge of an investigation going on regarding her store.
“We treat our animals with the best of care,” she said.
Finnegan believes a disgruntled employee may be behind the allegations.
The Pet Shop has been in business for 16 years and, along with pet food and other items, sells live puppies, bunnies, reptiles, tortoises, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs and other small rodents.
All California pet stores fall under the Pet Store Animal Care Act of the Health and Safety Code, which became law on Jan. 1. Some of the requirements pet store operators must follow include: Housing only compatible animals in the same enclosure; observing each animal at regular intervals, at least once a day, in order to recognize and evaluate general symptoms of sickness, injury, or abnormal behavior; and ensuring that each diseased, ill, or injured animal is evaluated and treated without delay. If necessary for the humane care and treatment of the animal, the act requires the animal be provided with veterinary treatment without delay.
According to Zumstein, the Schnauzer puppy was treated by Monte Vista Small Animal Clinic and then adopted by another family. She said the puppy is now “doing very well.”
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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