Front, from left to right are Laurissa Hebert, Maddie Bushey and Tammy Staley, standing in front of Mike Staley, Thomas Krause and Evan Liberty. The group stands inside the puppy pen at Northern Puppies. This photo was taken in the spring of 2012.
Northern Puppies pet shop owner Tammy Staley was arrested Wednesday, July 10 and charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty after police found sick and dead kittens in the back room of the store.
Staley, 33 of Plattsburgh, was arrested by Plattsburgh Police Department at 10 a.m. on July 10.
Lieutenant Scott Beebie with the city of Plattsburgh Police Department said Staley was arrested after members of the state Agriculture and Markets Division of Animal Industry made a spot visit to the store to inspect the property.
“When they went into the quarantine area in the back room of the store they saw a few kittens that were possibly deceased and others that looked sick,” Beebie said. “By law members of the Agriculture and Market can come into any facility that sells companion animals and inspect it at any time, it’s basically an open house.”
Members of Agriculture and Markets visited the Northern Puppies store on July 2, and later took 16 cats to be examined by a veterinarian at Eagles Nest Veterinary Hospital in Plattsburgh. Three cats died while at the veterinary hospital, bringing the total to five. Once the seized animals are healthy enough to leave the hospital, they will be placed in the care of the Elmore SPCA in Peru.
Beebie said Staley was arrested after medical tests on the kittens came back with the cause of death as intestinal parasite coccidia. Other health problems included ring worm, malnutrition, ear mites, flees, eye and respiratory infections.
Staley was also charged with not providing adequate living space for two chow dogs ages 2 and 7.
There were 32 dogs at the store at the time of the seizure, and at the time of Staley’s arrest 30 remained at the store. All have been deemed healthy by veterinarians.
Staley was released pending a court date on July 25 in Plattsburgh City Court. Each count of Animal Cruelty is a class “A” misdemeanor. Staley’s license to operate the pet store has been suspended pending an Agriculture and Markets hearing in Albany on July 16. Until that time, Northern Puppies is not allowed to sell any of the dogs remaining in the store. Northern Puppies can continue to sell non companion animals such as the fish, rabbits, reptiles and other animals at the store.
The remaining animals in the store were ordered to be medically cleared by a certified veterinarian.
Northern Puppies has been open at its 11 Plattsburgh Plaza location for more than a year and open for a year at a different location before that.
Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, Staley said she had been ill and her two employees were out on vacation at the time of the Agriculture and Markets inspection, leaving the care of her store to family members and friends.
She said the store had received about five different litters of kittens in June to be sold. A few days later she said an employee had come in the morning and found two of the kittens from the same litter were dead.
Staley said when she saw the two kittens had died she was heartbroken.
“We weren’t trying to sell sick kittens, when we thought they were sick we called out a vet to come in and see them here and we quarantined them,” Staley said. “After that I was so upset I said I don’t want to sell kittens because they get sick so often and you just can’t do anything about it.”
During this time, Staley said a maintenance worker had gone into the back room where quarantined animals are kept and had seen the cats and called authorities.
Staley said Veterinarian Ann Marie Kiley of Adirondack Mobile Veterinary Services had come to the store on June 16 and June 24 to examine the animals after diagnosing them with coccidia and provided medical treatment.
On June 20, Staley said she underwent surgery for a hernia and said her two primary employees went on scheduled vacations June 22 and 24. Post surgical complications combined with contracting pneumonia kept her away from the shop longer than expected, she said.
“My family and friends were helping as much as they could but they don’t look for the things me and my employees do,” Staley said. “If I had been here and my girls weren’t this wouldn’t have happened or if they were here and I wasn’t it wouldn’t have happened.”
Staley said she plans to hire an attorney to fight the charges and plans to continue to sell animals and pet equipment at Northern Puppies, but said she will no longer sell cats or kittens.
In the spring of 2012, local residents picketed the store, after photos were put online alleging Northern Puppies was neglecting animals.