Saturday, February 6, 2016

Oakland County Animal Control Is Failing to Protect Animals and Families


February 5, 2016

Dear Oakland County Commissioners,

Thank you for reviewing our concerns list (attached) regarding Oakland County Animal Control’s lack of response to animal neglect complaints, enforcement of various Michigan laws and gross mishandling of hoarding cases.

Of most importance in this matter, we have pet stores importing hundreds of ill animals, putting them on display sick and selling them to unsuspecting families sick. This should be something the department takes the lead on. We have hoarding cases with repeat failed inspections and the department is choosing to monitor, rather than enforce. In fact, the department has not even acknowledged the Farmington Hills Golden Retriever case as a hoarding situation. Experts have determined prosecution is essential in these types of cases.

Without policies and procedures there is no accountability.

On February 4, Mark Newman provided you with a three-page narrative in an attempt to respond to our concerns list, leaving even more concerns and no grievance process for resolving these issues.

Regarding the Farmington Hills kennel, which is our example of how bad it really is, Mr. Newman completely contradicts testimony provided by Senior Animal Control Officers. I have outlined my responses to his summary of the case:

  1. The Farmington Hills Golden Retriever breeding dogs were not found in ‘good condition’, are still not in ‘good condition’ and have not been seen by an independent veterinarian. The Michigan Penal Code (MCL 750.50) addresses adequate care - such as providing veterinary care, sanitary conditions, exercise, shelter, food, water, etc. We believe the following items are in violation of our cruelty laws:

     “There was no water source available. As we entered the basement, there was a numbing foul odor of ammonia that is consistent with a large amount of urine. The cages were too small and of inadequate size for the dogs. The water buckets for each individual dog had water, but also included dirt, hair and grime. The dog also had hair loss on its tail end and what appeared to be open sores. The floor and walls were covered in what appeared to be feces, mud, hair and wood shavings. Upon entering the main level, the conditions were abhorrent. The bird cages appeared to have not been cleaned in quite some times as it was filled with bird feces and did not contain an acceptable water source.  Upon entering the main kennel, there was a cloud of flies and disgusting odor. Dirt and hair was caked on the wire fencing that was used to contain the dogs. The dog runs had feces caked onto the floors. There was no spot on the floors for the animals to lie down or sit without being in filth. Several of the dogs were itching and biting themselves nonstop which is consistent with a flea infestation”. – Senior Animal Control Officer.

    “Kennel is in such abominable condition that the animals cannot be kept clean or in general good health. Flea/insect infestation. This kennel is not structurally sound and poses a health concern for the animals being kept in the facility. Some dogs were found to be in cages that were not of proper size for the dog, making it difficult for the animal to stand and turn around.” – Senior Animal Control
    Officer.

    The “handful” with fleas Mr. Newman cited was actually a “flea infestation”. The kennel worker reported and photographed evidence of dental disease, ear infections, eye infections, missing hair, open wounds, long toenails, and matting.

    Fast forward to 2015, there have been five more complaints. One puppy sold had fleas, a tick and ear infections. Oakland County Animal Control did not respond by checking any of the other dogs in the kennel. It does not appear the house or basement are being inspected, leaving many dogs and birds without oversight.

    There are no photos on file at Animal Control showing compliance and there is a DVD walk-thru missing, yet the Farmington Hills Police Department has it cataloged as evidence.

  1. There is no law stating that repeat offenders are allowed 10 days to address non-compliances. During an animal welfare check on 9/10/15, the Farmington Hills kennel failed the inspection. Photos taken during this inspection clearly show the kennel has declined to the same condition as the 2013 complaint. (Photos attached). The kennel was provided an opportunity to “clean-up” and then failed the 9/17/15 follow-up inspection. The photos taken during these inspections show an accumulation of feces, dirt, mud, debris and hair which clearly indicates this kennel is unsanitary and is not being cleaned on a regular basis.

  1. In the last eight years there have been 18 formal complaints with the Oakland County Animal Control, 35 kennel inspections or welfare checks by the Oakland County Animal Control and 13 failed inspections.

Petland Novi displaying and selling sick puppies is another example of the department’s failure to protect animals and the public:

  1. Animals on display at Petland Novi are sick and sold sick. My organization has collected 25 complaints related to sick animals sold in 2015 -- and we are not a reporting agency! Mr. Newman stated their officers found no evidence of animal cruelty or abuse at Petland Novi, yet one shopper observed sickly and lethargic puppies. Some were urine stained, others had bloated bellies, rashes, and hernias (Photos attached). In December 2015, one black Poodle puppy was observed pooping blood. This and three other puppies specifically mentioned in the 12/1 and 12/10 complaints were not mentioned in the case report (attached). The case report did not even mention that the puppies were sold or in quarantine. Where were these puppies? Pet stores are required to keep disposition records. Was the poodle pooping blood sold that way?

  1. Not providing adequate veterinary care to keep an animal in good health does violate our cruelty laws.Adequate care" means the provision of sufficient food, water, shelter, sanitary conditions, exercise, and veterinary medical attention in order to maintain an animal in a state of good health. Mr. Newman clears all concerns simply by saying that a veterinarian is overseeing the puppies at the pet store. This is a veterinarian that has a contract with the store and receives new clients as part of the 3-free exams offered. It is the department’s responsibility for finding out why so many puppies are on display sick and sold sick even though a veterinarian is overseeing them. This is not “adequate” veterinary care.

  2. A prior FOIA request shows the department did not respond to any complaints over a three year period (August 2009 – July 2011). Mr. Newman claims that “the department has always and will always respond to citizen complaints of animal abuse or cruelty.” On January 21, 2016, I filed a complaint related to the Family Puppy store regularly shipping sick puppies to Toledo, per a whistle blower employee. It was being covered by several media outlets. The department supervisor stated they will only respond to food, water and shelter complaints and it is not their duty to inspect pet stores. I even asked Mr. Shankin if a puppy was pooping blood on display at a pet store, would they respond? He stated, no. They will only respond to food, water and shelter.

  3. Families who purchased sick puppies from pet stores are still referred to the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Mr. Newman stated it is unfortunate the MDARD dropped the Pet Shop Program, but did not agree to pick up the duties for enforce the Pet Shop Laws while other cities are. Some cities like Dearborn and Warren have even prosecuted irresponsible pet store owners. I agree, these cases could also be considered civil matters, but if there is a pattern of complaints and contagious diseases reported, the department should take the lead. If one sick dog is sold, there are likely many more that go unreported. Petland was exposed in the news repeatedly for selling sick animals back in 2009/10.  https://youtu.be/pGC5P5HvouU

    To learn more about the problems at Petland Novi, please read my report prepared for the
    Novi City Council. http://puppymillawarenessmichigan.blogspot.com/2015/03/top-ten-reasons-petland-is-michigans.html

Regarding “bite complaints”, there is no evidence that bite forms are processed with the Health Department. I am attaching a FOIA response from the Health Department stating there are no bite forms on file for the Oakland County pet stores listed, yet we have at least one bite form filled out by the Novi Police (attached). I also have testimony from the Health Department stating they never received bite forms from OCAC. In 2013, Joanie Toole claimed the department responded to 600 bite complaints in one year. Can these be found in the Michigan Disease Surveillance System?

Mr. Newman did not address all of our concerns. We are still looking for the following:

  1. All polices and procedures governing how the director, supervisor and officers respond to complaints and enforce the laws.

  2. How many cruelty cases have been submitted for prosecution in the last three years?

  3. What services are offered to villages, cities and townships? Specifically, what has been provided to each municipality? Are all provided the same services?

Thank you,

Pam Sordyl
Founder Puppy Mill Awareness of
SE Michigan

pmamichinfo@yahoo.com
t 734.828.1400   c 734.718.7100
michiganpuppymills.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Petland Novi continues to use no discretion in choosing suppliers

Petland Novi claims to use only breeders with no indirect violations on their “last” inspection report, however, Hillard’s Kennel from Coffeyville KS shipped puppies just eight months after being cited for four indirect violations. These indirect violations include lack of veterinary care, housing, cleaning, and sanitation. The veterinary violation was for a Shih-tzu’s with a very crusted and watery eye. “The area around the eyelid appears to be swollen. The licensee has no medial records to show dates the dog was examined.”

In addition, Johanna Abernathy & Terri Schnieders’ Quapaw OK kennel also received a wide range of violations related to housing, exercise program, feeding, watering and cleaning.  The inspector found loose, sharp metal objects, rodent droppings in food storage, waste around the dogs, no exercise program signed by a vet, chewed unsantizable food and water dishes, flies throughout the facility. 

ABERNATHY, JOHANNA & SCHNIEDERS, TERRI
USDA Licence # 73A2671

USDA inspection notes (from June 26, 2013 unless otherwise noted)
  • The self-feeder has a hole in the bottom with sharp jagged edges.
  • The food receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The food receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The water receptacles with chewed or roughened edges.
  • The water receptacles with roughened edges.
  • Flies in the enclosures, must maintain some plan to remove or control flies and other vermin.
  • The water receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • The food receptacle must be clean and smooth so it can be easily cleaned and sanitized.
  • Shovel full of waste form the enclosures.
  • Inside of the food storage van. Insects and rodent droppings were in the van.
  • The shelter building int he exercise yard has sharp and jagged edges the [sic] could injury the dogs.
  • Inside of the food storage van. Insects and rodent droppings were in the van.
  • Inside of the food storage van. Insects and rodent droppings were in the van.
  • The accumulation of waste around the clean out. Flies were present in the area.
  • Wheel barrel full of waste from the enclosures, should be move [sic] from the area.
  • The shelter building int he exercise yard has sharp and jagged edges the [sic] could injury the dogs.
  • Kennel buildings.
  • Kennel buildings.
























Sunday, December 13, 2015

Petland Novi frequently asked questions that can be answered in two words


Puppy Mill Awareness of SE Michigan receives all kinds of questions about Petland Novi from employees, shoppers, local residents, city council… So many people find it hard to believe that a store in a popular local mall would be doing something unethical. We all know when profits are involved coupled with the belief having any type of business is good for the economy can be a bad thing for animals. 

Q: How many complaints have been filed regarding sick dogs sold?
A: Too many.

Q: How many times has Oakland County Animal Control or the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development checked on sick animals?
A: Not enough.

Q: Does the veterinary who issues 30-day Health Certificates also offer 3 free exams to attract new customers? Is that a conflict of interest?
A: Appears so.

Q: Are there disclosure or Pet Lemon laws in Michigan?
A: Not yet.

Q: What happens if someone purchases a sick pet from Petland Novi?
A: No recourse.

Q: Does the owner of Petland Novi have access to USDA inspection reports for the kennels they source from?
A: Yes.

Q: Does the owner of Petland Novi source from breeders with prior  violations or enforcement actions?
A: Yes.

Q: Does Petland Novi work with breeders with over 200 dogs?
A: Yes

Q: How many puppies does Petland Novi sell each month?
A: 80-100

Q: What does City Council say on this matter?
A: Buyer Beware.

Q: If I purchased a sick pet who should I contact?
A: Jennifer Measel (248-702-6550)

Q: If I observed sick animals on display at the store, who should I contact?
A: Good luck!

Q: Why does Petland Novi delete my questions when I post on their Facebook page?
A: Good question.

Q: Where should I find a pet?
A: Local shelter.

Q: What will happen to the puppies if they do not sell?
A: Marked down.


If you would like to know more about Petland Novi’s breeders and business practices, please visit our blog. http://puppymillawarenessmichigan.blogspot.com/2015/03/top-ten-reasons-petland-is-michigans.html

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Federal Judges Uphold Pet Store Sales Bans

Seven federal courts considering pet retail sale bans have now issued favorable rulings upholding pet retail sale ordinances. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois twice dismissed an attempt by pet store owners and the Missouri Pet Breeders Association to strike down the pet retail ordinance passed in 2014 by Cook County Commissioners. In a similar case in East Providence, Rhode Island, the Court upheld a pet retail sale ordinance on summary judgment in March 2015. In his ruling, Chief Judge William E. Smith, Federal District Court for the District of Rhode Island, said: 

 “A government’s interest in preventing the evils associated with ‘puppy mills,’ … including inhumane treatment of animals and overpopulation, are plainly legitimate ends.” 



Most recently, after a favorable court ruling, Chicago, Illinois pet stores are still prohibited from buying puppies from large-scale commercial breeders, also known as puppy mills. Several Chicago pet store owners challenged a pet retail ordinance passed in early 2014. Also, as of October, the Eastern District of New York dismissed the New York Pet Welfare Association’s lawsuit challenging New York City’s pet shop ordinances. 

Two more U.S. District Courts upheld pet retail sale ordinances this year in Sunrise, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona. There is now only one remaining lawsuit in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida being heard in the state court. 

There is no way to predict how long the remaining lawsuit and appeals will take. Corporate counsel in each municipality recommended passage of retail bans to protect the interest of the local community and support animal welfare. Municipalities across the country started restricting pet retail sales in 2006 and there are now over 90 cities, six counties and one state with restrictions in place. 

SUMMARY FEDERAL COURT CASES: 

1. San Diego, CA – October 2014 Pet Store withdrew lawsuit. 
 2. East Providence, RI – March 2015 upheld. Pending appeal on Takings issue only. 
3. Cook County, IL – May 2015 upheld. 
4. Sunrise, FL – June 2015 upheld 
5. Phoenix, FL – July 2015 upheld. Pending appeal. 
6. Cook County, IL – August 2015 upheld. Pending appeal. 
7. New York, NY – October 2015 upheld. 
8. Chicago, IL – November 2015 upheld. 

 SUMMARY STATE COURT CASES: 

 1. Palm Beach Gardens, FL – pending.

Learn how to pass Michigan's model pet retail ordinance. http://mfca.yolasite.com/ordinance.php

Credit: Puppy Mill Free Reno and The Puppy Mill Project.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Law Firm Seeks Permanent Injunction against Mt. Clemens Puppy Store

Law Firm Seeks Permanent Injunction against Mt. Clemens Puppy Store

Plaintiffs will be attending hearing seeking a “cease and desist” order
from judge to prevent sale of sick animals
 

MEDIA ADVISORY:  Friday, August 21, 2015

CONTACT: Pam Sordyl, pmamichinfo@yahoo.com, 734-718-7100

MT. CLEMENS, MICHIGAN – Plaintiffs who purchased companion animals from Little Dogz, formally operating as Pollywood Pets located in the Gibraltar Trade Center, will be attending the first set of hearings August 24, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at the Macomb County Circuit Court in Honorable Judge James Biernat, Sr. courtroom.

The plaintiff’s attorney Jenifer Measel of Haas & Goldstein, P.C., a Farmington Hills based law firm, is asking for a permanent injunction barring the store or its owners from selling animals.

Thirty-one plaintiffs are now included in the lawsuit filed in March 2015 seeking monetary damages for multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act after purchasing puppies that were genetically defective, suffering from infections, and highly contagious diseases. 

Macomb County Circuit Court
40 N. Main St., Mt. Clemens, MI.
Case # 15-0702-CZ
4 Floor, Honorable Judge James Biernat, Sr.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Favorable Rulings for Anti Puppy Mill Ordinances



Four of the five federal courts considering retail pet sale bans have now issued favorable rulings upholding retail pet sale ordinances. In May of 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed an attempt by the Missouri Pet Breeders Association to strike down the ordinance passed last year by Cook County Commissioners. Although the ruling is not yet final, we anticipate that when the Court enters its final order pet stores in Cook County, Illinois, will not be allowed to sell puppies produced in inhumane, commercial, large-scale dog breeding facilities known as puppy mills. This is the second ruling upholding state and local government authority to restrict the sale of puppy mill dogs at pet stores. In a similar case in East Providence, RI, the Court upheld a retail pet sale ordinance on summary judgment in March 2015. In his ruling, Chief Judge William E. Smith, Federal District Court for the District of Rhode Island said:

“A government’s interest in preventing the evils associated with ‘puppy mills’ that both parties cite to, including inhumane treatment of animals and overpopulation, are plainly legitimate ends.”

Most recently, two more U.S. District Courts upheld retail pet sale ordinances including Sunrise, Florida and the Phoenix, Arizona. There is only one remaining federal lawsuit in ChicagoIllinois, as well as one in state court in Palm Beach GardensFlorida
There is no way to predict how long the remaining lawsuits and their appeals will take. Corporate counsel in each municipality recommended passage of retail bans to protect the interest of the local community and support animal welfare. Municipalities across the country started restricting retail sales in 2006 and there are now over 70 cities, two counties and one state with restrictions in place. Virginia was the first state to implement restrictions in March of 2015.

Learn how to pass Michigan's model pet retail ordinance. http://mfca.yolasite.com/ordinance.php

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Eleven Plaintiffs File Lawsuit Against Trade Center Pet Store


Law firm seeks permanent injunction against Pollywood Pets/Little Dogz

PRESS RELEASE: April 14, 2015

CONTACT: Pam Sordyl, pmamichinfo@yahoo.com, 734-718-7100

MT. CLEMENS, MICHIGAN – Eleven plaintiffs who purchased companion animals from Little Dogz, formally operating as Pollywood Pets located in the Gibralter Trade Center, have filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages for multiple violations of the Consumer Protection Act in the Macomb County Circuit Court after purchasing puppies that were genetically defective, suffering from infections, and highly contagious diseases.

The complaint is also requesting a permanent injunction barring the store or its owners from selling animals.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorney Jenifer Measel of Haas & Goldstein, P.C., a Farmington Hills based law firm. These animals were advertised by the store and its owners as healthy and suitable for family pets but the end result was that most of the animals had to be euthanized shortly after purchase. The animals that did survive cost the plaintiffs thousands of dollars in ongoing veterinary care.

The named defendants in the lawsuit are Pollywood Pets, Little Dogz, Shelley Myers, and David Myers. The complaint also alleges fraud, claiming the store and its owners knowingly sold animals to the plaintiffs that were genetically deformed and had deadly and highly contagious diseases.

Other lawsuits have been filed against the store and its owners in the past.

Last week, Myers claimed the store’s lease had not been renewed after twenty-four years of operation at the Trade Center after a local animal welfare group put pressure on the Trade Center. Myers was seeking funding to rebuild the business on a GoFundMe site that is no longer active. During the pet store’s tenure at the Trade Center, Shelley and David Myers sold dogs, cats, rabbits, small animals, and birds out of a storefront. Multiple complaints of sick and dying animals were reported to the local and county Animal Control Offices and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development who formally regulated pet stores.

Puppy Mill Awareness of Southeast Michigan launched a public education campaign in front of the Trade Center and online warning patrons of the condition of the animals being sold. During weekly protests, the animal advocates collected testimony from families who had purchased ill or genetically defective animals and advised them to file complaints.

“During our sixteen-month campaign, twenty individuals stated they purchased a sick animal from the store during that timeframe.” Pam Sordyl, Founder of Puppy Mill Awareness. “We heard so many heartbreaking stories. One woman told us her new Yorkie was diagnosed with kennel cough and pneumonia a week after purchase. Her pet was suffering, almost died, and the pet store refused to help claiming the illness was brought to their attention after the 48-hour rule stated in the contract.”

A lack of funding ended the Pet Shop Program regulating pet stores in Michigan, however, many local agencies are now enforcing the pet store laws and regulations. Both Greenwood Pets & Plants located in Warren and Pet Station in Dearborn were shut down for violating these laws and selling sick animals. Mt. Clemens employs a part-time officer who also handles parking tickets.

Today’s lawsuit seeks to protect members of the general public from unknowingly purchasing over bred, genetically deformed, and diseased animals represented as “family pets.” Those wanting to add a pet to their household are encouraged to adopt from their local shelter or foster-based animal rescues organizations, many of whom specialize in specific breeds, or thoroughly research and personally visit the breeder from whom they intend to purchase an animal. T

o follow the progress of this case, click below http://courtpa.macombgov.org/eservices/?x=wxG5daYLjb7kQSzAUaWovzJeG7rtMufm0Qpu9pF1k0ynReXeT8XMSxJdMm-MIQjlKMtPKcWgs9BgzNvuRD*NPQ