Pet store under investigation after numerous complaints made - Toledo News Now, News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Pet store under investigation after numerous complaints made

(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan pet store is at the center of numerous complaints.

"There was four poodles in crates one on top of the other," said Vikki Monroe, complainant. "They all looked super filthy. Their dishes were tipped over so there was water in the pans and it stunk so bad."

That store, Ocean Odyssey in Saginaw, is now the subject of an investigation by a number of local agencies.

What started as complaints on social media has grown into something much more serious.

"We had complaints that the building, it could be a possible cruelty situation," Animal control officer Trish Barnes said.

After dozens of phone calls and outrage on social media, Saginaw County Animal Control officers went to the Ocean Odyssey pet store on Friday to investigate the claims.

Many people complained about the smell, the cleanliness of the store and were worried about the well-being of the animals.

"We've come here quite a bit. Every time we've come here the owner talks to us, lets us walk through the building, been very honest with us. So we'll see what happens today," Barnes said.

Animal control, the health department, code enforcement, police and fire departments inspected the pet store on Friday.

Barnes said it's important to do the thorough inspections on pet stores.

"These animals are going out into the public. They could be sick, getting other animals sick. It's a pet store. We want to be able to go into it and bring out healthy animals," Barnes said.

Following the inspection, officers weren't able to discuss the violations - if any - they found pending their investigation.

Barnes said the store has had issues with sanitation in the past.

"With working with what we have with building inspector, the fire department, the health code, with us as animal control and the prosecutor. We combine all that and present that case to see if there's any criminal charges or violations," said Joaquin Guerrero, animal control officer.

Officers said the owner of the pet shop was cooperating with their investigation.

The owner said he is annoyed by the complaints.

"We get inspections all the time. We never have any complaints against us from the state, animal control," said Dominic Damore, owner.

He said he is sick and tired of hearing the complaints.

"We've got people saying all kinds of crap on there that we put live animals in the freezer, put them in a gas chamber or another one we put them in a room with carbon monoxide to poison them. These people are just wacko out there and they want attention," Damore said.

Some people reached out to TV5 concerned about the small crates the dogs stay in stacked upon one another. Damore said he is not breaking any laws.

"All the dogs have separate cages. If we had 10 dogs to one cage that'd be different, but that's not true," Damore said.

Other customers have expressed concern their dog or cat became sick shortly after leaving the store.

While signs posted inside say the store doesn't have responsibility of the animal once it leaves the store, the owner said they still make sure they are taken care of.

"As a matter of fact, everyone who buys a dog here they go to Bay Valley Animal Hospital with a coupon. There's no such thing as a sick dog or sick cat," Damore said.

Monroe said she wants Ocean Odyssey closed because she would never want her dog living in conditions like that.

"I was disgusted, totally disgusted. And I felt so sad for the animals. I almost started crying. I did at one point. I was crying looking at those videos because it's just heartbreaking," Monroe said.

One of the store's former employees is speaking out about her time working at the pet store.

"I want the public to know that Ocean Odyssey is not a safe place. It's not," said Geena Cone, former employee.

Cone said she worked at the pet store for a month and a half. During that time she said she saw what she felt were inhumane conditions.

"There's dogs shoved in tiny cages. They only have a little small carpet they sit on so their feet, they're just covered in feces. And it's just not right to be throwing small dogs into small cages and just thinking it's OK," Cone said.

Cone said said she loves animals and she believes she was fired for paying attention to the animals.

"Make sure they are OK, they're safe, they have everything - water. If they spill it, I'll refill it. Change the newspapers. Stuff that I know animals need," Cone said.

She said she has a message for anyone still working at Ocean Odyssey.

"I would get out of there. It's not a safe environment to be working and seeing animals like that and not want to sit there and help them. And not really work with them. It's sad," Cone said.

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