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December 5, 2013

Pet Store Owner Denied Custody of Allegedly Neglected Puppy Seized After Undercover Investigation

The Humane Society of the United States and ReLove Animals, Inc. testified in custody hearing

ReLove Animals, Inc., Prince George's County Commission for Animal Control

The Prince George’s County Commission for Animal Control denied a request from a pet store owner attempting to gain custody of an allegedly neglected Rottweiler puppy seized after an undercover investigation. In November, representatives from The Humane Society of the United States and Baltimore-based ReLove Animals, Inc. testified to prevent the return of the sick puppy to the owner of Genesis Pets, located in Capitol Heights, Md.

The sick puppy was discovered during an undercover investigation of Maryland pet stores that the groups released in October. The veterinarian who treated the puppy after his removal from the store found that he was underweight and had no food in his intestines, in addition to suffering from intestinal parasites and pneumonia in both lungs.

Julianne Brown, eyewitness and founder of ReLove Animals, Inc. said: “Had Prince George’s County Animal Management Division not seized and treated the puppy, we believe he would have died within days. We are grateful that he wasn’t returned to the pet store owner, and we hope that the county continues to keep a sharp eye on the conditions at Genesis Pets.”

Kathleen Summers, eyewitness and The HSUS’ director of outreach and research for the Stop Puppy Mills campaign said: “Genesis Pets has a long history with animal control and we suspect that the grave condition of the puppy we found during our September visit was only the latest incident in a pattern of animal care issues linked to the store. He was the sickest puppy I have ever seen at a pet store and we’re thankful to Prince George’s County for denying the request to return the puppy.”

During a visit to Genesis Pets, the store owner, Louis McClam, showed investigators records on the puppy, which included the breeder’s name, Catherine Rexwinkle. Rexwinkle is a USDA-licensed commercial breeder in Welch, Okla. Investigators believe the Rottweiler may have come from a puppy mill.  

The winter holidays are the busiest puppy buying season of the year, during which consumers often unknowingly purchase sick puppy mill puppies from sources such as the Internet, flea markets, or pet stores. Most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills. The HSUS and ReLove Animals, Inc. urge people who are considering getting a puppy to consider adopting a shelter pet, or going to a responsible breeder whom they have carefully screened in person.

TIMELINE:

  • On September 24, The HSUS and ReLove Animals, Inc. visited Genesis Pets in Capitol Heights as part of an undercover investigation of all puppy-selling pet stores in Maryland. They spotted a Rottweiler puppy who was lethargic and underweight, with greenish mucus coming from his eyes and nose.
  • Immediately upon leaving the store, one of the witnesses called local animal control. An animal control officer subsequently confiscated the 10-week-old puppy and cited the owner for county-level animal cruelty and neglect charges.
  • In October, The HSUS and ReLove Animals, Inc. released the results of their investigation, which revealed that the majority of the pet stores investigated were violating a state law that requires them to disclose certain information about their puppies’ origins conspicuously on the cages.
  • In October, the store owner attempted to regain custody of the puppy.
  • On November 13, the Prince George’s County Commission for Animal Control denied the pet store owner’s request to reclaim the puppy. A full accounting of their findings was released on December 4.

Media Contact: Cheylin Parker: 310-258-1505; cparker@humanesociety.org

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