It’s no secret that I abhor pet stores that sell puppies. They’re just another link in the cruel puppy mill chain but it’s even worse when these pet stores are literally getting away with murder and no one is doing anything about it!

Specifically in Detroit, it seems that even though pet stores were being inspected, no one was fining or enforcing when problem were found, which they were again and again, year after year.

The state agency that is supposed to be responsible for the safety of animals has cited more than a quarter of the approximately 70 metro area pet stores in the past four years for everything from housing sickly animals, confining dogs and cats to dirty, cramped cages and selling pets that are unhealthy or below the legal age and even finding dead animals. Even though cited, not one fine has ever been issued or one store closed down and now things are even going to get worse.

Seems due to budgetary restraints, pet store inspections are no longer even going to happen. “Agency officials say they must shift the focus to monitoring deer and cattle populations for contagious diseases such as tuberculosis”

“In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be this way,” said state veterinarian Dr. Steven Halstead, who works for the Department of Agriculture. “I have concerns that by not having the presence that we should, animals will suffer.”

One pet store alone, Pollywood Pets, inside the Gibraltar Trade Center in Mt. Clemens, has had more then 30 complaints against it in 2007 alone. That’s more than any other pet store. Some of the complaints include; 20 kittens stuffed in a pen; sick puppies covered in feces, some injured by broken cages; guinea pigs bleeding and overcrowded, one without an eye.

This is also not the first spate of problems this store has had either. Since 2003 state inspectors found similar conditions during inspections and did nothing then. Inspection records show they found a dog’s carcass in a freezer and kittens who died after receiving no veterinary care. Other kittens, too young for legal sale, were infested with fleas and slumped over in dehydration in an old birdcage.

States are responsible for passing laws to protect pet shop animals. Michigan requires cages to be large enough for animals to stand and move around. Sick animals must get immediate medical attention. And animals must have adequate water and food.

Animal-rights groups question whether agriculture departments — focused primarily on livestock — were ever equipped to monitor pet shops.

Even before the state decided to stop inspections, it had begun reducing unannounced visits. Most pet shops, which had averaged two inspections annually, weren’t inspected for years, records from 2002 to 2007 show.

The last inspection at Family of Pets in Waterford, for example, was five years ago, despite complaints as recently as two months ago about filthy, cramped cages. The state found similar problems in the past three years — plus outbreaks of a potentially deadly virus and puppies sold too young — at the chain’s other four stores.

Violations are common in stores across metro Detroit, the inspection records show.

• Water was tainted with feces, and pens were too small for dogs and cats to turn around or stand up in.

• At least eight stores sold puppies under the legal age of 8 weeks — some as young as 5 weeks. At least three were cited several times but were never fined or shut down. • Animals with contagious diseases, some deadly, were not separated from healthy ones at more than a dozen stores.

In an unusual move, the Riverview Fire Department — not the state — stepped in and closed All About Pets in late November because the shop hadn’t been using heat and was a fire hazard, records show.

Even though the state found similar conditions in visits since September 2006 and the shop failed to apply for annual license renewals in 2005 and 2007, inspectors allowed the shop to stay open.

Other stores without proper ventilation to prevent the spread of disease continued operating after subsequent inspections found no improvements. One was Utica Pet Supply, where the owner acknowledged an overcrowded puppy population, records show. At least four complaints about sickly pups followed in a 3-month span this year.

A shih tzu from the pet shop nearly died a day after Joseph and Christie Gentner of Warren bought her in September. A veterinarian immediately diagnosed the puppy with the potentially fatal parvovirus, which vets say doesn’t reveal symptoms for at least five days after infection.

Christie Gentner said Utica Pet Supply wouldn’t reimburse the couple for the $1,800 in vet bills. The store didn’t return calls for comment.

“There needs to be a lot more protection for pets,” said Deborah Howard, president of the Companion Animal Protection Society, a national nonprofit that monitors pet stores. (Detroit Free Press)

Now, this just zeros in on Detroit pet stores but what about pet stores elsewhere? There’s no doubt that many, many pet stores all over the country operate under conditions as bad and even worse.

Legislation and laws need to get stronger, not weaker!  I don’t know about you, but I see taxes going up every year but cuts in everything that would protect the innocent and defenseless.  That money’s certainly going somewhere and it it certainly seems that legislators need to get their priorities straight on where it should be going.

I see school budget cuts, and law enforcement budget cuts, programs that need more, not less.  Get in touch with your legislators and demand to know where the money is going and what is going to be done about these kinds of problems.  It’s our responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves whether it be animals, children, the elderly or whoever.  It’s our tax money, should we have some say in where it goes??

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