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Las Vegas pet shop alleged to have sick puppies, police investigating

Updated December 12, 2018 - 2:52 pm

Police are investigating a Las Vegas pet store that an animal rights group alleges houses sick puppies.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s animal cruelty unit opened the investigation into the Petland store at 8800 W. Charleston Blvd. on Nov. 21, police spokesman Larry Hadfield said.

That location, in the Boca Park shopping center, is one of two stores nationwide targeted by the Humane Society of the United States with hidden cameras, according to a report with accompanying video. The other store is in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Humane Society activists who gained employment at the stores were seeking to learn more after the organization received several complaints about the pet store chain, according to the Humane Society.

The store’s manager said the video was edited to be deliberately unfair and make the business look bad. The Humane Society, in the report, said “human law enforcement” was alerted to a sick Maltese puppy but found no legal reason to prevent Petland from returning the animal to its supplier.

Petland’s Las Vegas store held “numerous” sick puppies, including the Maltese that was being held in a cage in the back of the store, the group’s report alleges.

A woman working in November at the Las Vegas location filmed an employee saying the store was expecting the Maltese, which she said had “a hole in his throat,” to die. But store manager Brian Parker rejected that claim, saying the puppy was sick because of swollen tonsils, and its airway had restricted.

“Not a hole in the throat, or the puppy wouldn’t be alive,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday.

A segment of the released video shows the Humane Society activist having a conversation with the manager, in which Parker said he didn’t know what happened to sick puppies when they’re sent back to the breeder.

“She left out the whole 5½ minutes of me being sincere about the puppy,” he said Tuesday. “It was a cut-and-paste video with ill intentions.”

The woman wearing the camera learned the dog was to be returned to a distributor, Missouri-based Pinnacle Pet, for a refund. She offered to take home the animal herself, the report said, but the store manager declined, saying the store had already received its refund for the dog. Parker on Tuesday said the woman demanded to bring home the sick puppy on her second day on the job.

The Maltese was sent back to the animal supplier, Parker said Tuesday.

“It’s our policy to send them back to the breeders for proper care,” he said.

The store is looking into what happened with the sick puppy and whether the activist broke any laws while working for Petland, Parker said.

Allegations of crowded puppy cages and injured birds were included in the group’s report.

Parker said birds and other small animals can be injured in the store when small children pick them up. Many birds and other small animals are kept in an “open petter-style environment,” according to the store’s website.

“We do have to tend to some animals with injuries,” Parker said. “It’s not the painted picture that we have all these injured animals.”

Parker said while the store’s puppies come from breeders who “breed heavily,” the animals are not from so-called “puppy mills.”

“We’d be out of business — those things are so unhealthy,” he said about purchasing from abusive breeders.“We buy from breeders that are fully USDA licensed.”

In the time he’s worked at the store, Parker said he frequently sees protesters, some of whom will enter the store with signs and cameras.

“I can say I understand both sides,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t want anyone dictating to him where to get a puppy. “Our intentions are not ill.”

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter. Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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