I was accompanied by Detroit Free Press reporter Steve Neavling. CAPS worked with Steve on a three-part series on the pet shop/puppy mill industry that ran July 12, 2006. Steve was working on a story about the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s pet shop inspection program and was planning to feature Pollywood Pets as an example of a pet shop with many complaints and violations for which the state took no action. The December 30 (Sunday) edition of the Detroit Free Press features this article as well as an article and video about CAPS' rescue of two dogs from Pollywood (read below for more info on the rescue).
Recently, CAPS received alarming complaints about the horrible conditions at Pollywood Pets, a cramped, dirty store that sells puppies, dogs, kittens, cats, parrots, finches and small animals. The owner of the Pollywood Pets is Shelly Myers. She says that even though the pet shop is only open on weekends, she takes care of the animals on a daily basis.
The first animal that caught my attention was a Jack Russell Terrier mix, who was turning circles in a cage in which he could barely turn around. Shelly referred to this dog, as a “standard” Jack Russell Terrier (there is no such thing as a standard JRT). The dog had been in a cage for 18 months. Some of the dogs in Pollywood Pets are in three tiers of cages on wheels. Each time a dog moves, the cages shake and the dogs have to balance on the wire grate floors. Some of the smaller dogs are in bird cages.
I told Shelly that I was looking for a dog for my mother and wanted to see the Jack Russell Terrier mix. She said he wouldn’t be a good dog for an older person and would be better suited for breeding. She refused to take the dog out for me to see. However, she did bring the dog out for Steve.
The dog, who was very timid, appeared to have sores on his body, including a large open wound on the top of his neck, a torn ear that looked like it had been bitten, very long nails and splayed feet, which were probably the result of having to balance in the wires of an unsteady cage for such a long time.
Shelly took out a Cavalier King Charles mix, who had been in a cage for one year. This dog seemed too large for his cage. This dog was friendly but hyper. She gave me a retractable lead to use so it was hard to control the dog. She could have easily provided a regular lead from the shelf. Most of the supplies in the store, including regular dog leads, have been there so long that they are dusty. The dog was thrilled to get out of his cage and pulled me around the store. I returned the dog to one of the employees, who promptly took him off the leash. The dog took off into the flea – Shelly said to let him go – with the employee in pursuit.
I stated that the dog needed obedience to which Shelly replied that I needed obedience. I noted that one of my dogs from years back had an obedience title called a CD. Shelly didn’t know what that meant and apparently that bothered her. She later told Steve that she wasn’t going to sell the Cavalier mix to me because she got bad vibes from me and seemed like the kind of person who would complain and cause trouble. Steve and I looked at the records for both dogs. They appeared to come from Amish breeder in Camden, Michigan, where CAPS investigators recently checked out USDA licensed facilities, but the records for the Jack Russell Terrier mix stated that he was a Yorkshire Terrier. The state has cited Shelly for improper recordkeeping.
Shelly wanted $399 for each dog! She boasted that she never euthanizes any of her animals if they don’t find homes. It sounded like she was running a shelter and not a pet shop. We have yet to encounter a pet shop that euthanizes animals because they don’t sell right away. Most, however, mark the prices down significantly so that the animals find homes well before a year. And some animals go home with employees. Shelly told Steve that if he didn’t buy the dog that it might not be there later because she “worked” with people who found homes for the long-time residents of the pet shop.
I knew that CAPS had to get both dogs out of this pet shop. Steve and I made contact with Marie Skladd, the founder of Michigan Animal Adoption Network in Ferndale. I also found a local Cavalier King Charles rescue woman, Nancy Friedman.
Marie and Nancy went to Pollywood on December 15. When they walked into the store, one employee was holding the dog by the nape of the neck and another was cutting the nails, which were bleeding. The dog must weigh at least 25 lbs. Even Animal Control agreed with me that this was improper. Marie and Nancy purchased each dog for $250 in cash. They then took the dogs to Veterinary Centers of America (VCA) in Allen Park. Steve met them there and videotaped the dogs being examined by Dr. Marj Field. She spent about two hours with the dogs.
The Jack Russell Terrier mix, now named Wishbone, had a freely bleeding laceration to the tip of the the ear (he was flinging blood, which is why he appeared to have bloody sores on his body), fleas, infected ears, bad teeth, a Urinary Tract Infection, giardia, long nails and splayed feet.
The Cavalier King Charles mix, now named Casey, had bilateral entropian eyelids, a very painful congenital condition in which the eyelid turns in thereby causing the lashes to constantly brush against the eye. It should have been surgically repaired right away, yet Pollywood Pets allowed him to suffer with this condition for one year. He also had a luxating patella (he limps), lip-fold moist dermatitis (skin infection due to constant moisture and yeast because of poor jaw conformation), infected ears, fleas, bad teeth, giardia, coccidia, and an umbilica hernia.
VCA neutered the dogs and provided surgery for the torn ear, which they believe was the result of a dog fight, entropian eyelids, torn knee ligament, jaw problem and hernia. The vet hospital kindly donated close to $4,000 in services, and we thank them greatly for their kindness and generosity. Pet Supplies Plus donated treats, toys and food. On December 29, VCA released the dogs to Marie. Steve was on hand to videotape their discharge from the vet hospital, subsequent evaluation by renowned animal behaviorist/trainer Vladae Roytapel and their arrival at Pet Ritz Lakeshore Resort in Roseville, a posh dog daycare, spa and overnight resort. The dogs will stay at Pet Ritz at no charge for rehabilitation and socialization with dogs and people. Pet Ritz works with Vladae Roytapel, so he will be doing behavioral work and training with Casey and Wishbone. He says that Wishbone was abused. We will have information on Vladae’s assessment and work with the dogs in a future blog.