Health officials grant NJ pet store temporary license after week-long shutdown

A Hamilton, New Jersey pet shop was issued a temporary license to reopen after state and local health officials shut down the store for a week citing filthy conditions. Pets & Supplies Unlimited was closed after an inspection revealed food contaminated with rodent feces and a dirty refrigerator and freezer where medicines and pet supplies are stored. The store also was found to be dispensing antibiotics without a prescription and had no veterinarian-approved disease control plan. The conditional license allows the store to sell the animals they have before a hearing in two weeks.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse confirmed yesterday with New Jersey state officials that Pets & Supplies Unlimited buys exclusively from Pennsylvania kennels, but the store is not listed on the Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement's out-of-state-dealer list. Last year NJCAPSA received a complaint regarding the purchase of a sick puppy from Pets & Supplies Unlimited that died within a week from pneumonia and an intestinal disease known as coccidia. The breeder was listed as Sam King of County Lane Kennel in New Providence, who has a long history of dog law violations.



The Times of Trenton has the full story:

Pet shop reopens after mandatory shutdown


June 25, 2009
The Times of Trenton
By Carmen Cusido


Hamilton ( Mercer County) NJ — State and township health officials yesterday reopened a pet store in a strip mall after closing it down last week due to unsanitary conditions.

Pets & Supplies Unlimited received a "conditional satisfactory" rating yesterday, meaning they were open and allowed to sell the animals currently in the store, but couldn't bring new animals, said Marilyn Riley, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Senior Services.

Following a complaint received June 12, state inspectors visited Pets & Supplies Unlimited on South Broad Street June 17. They temporarily closed it June 19 after citing a number of violations.

According to a letter from the state Department of Health and Senior Services, store owners had until yesterday to correct several violations. These measures included removing and disposing of pet food contaminated with rodent feces and disinfecting a refrigerator and freezer used to hold animal carcasses and medical and pet supplies.

Riley said animals were not receiving proper care and were being given antibiotics not prescribed by a veterinarian. She said the owners didn't have a disease control program established and maintained by a licensed veterinarian. The disease control program spells out how animals will get preventative care and sick care.

"We felt the most serious violations had been corrected," Riley said.

She said the owners corrected other several issues, including isolating sick dogs from healthy ones, improving the general cleanliness of the facility, hiring an exterminator and closing off access to areas where rodents and other pests could get in. A veterinarian who inspected the store also had issued some instructions for medical treatment, and the owners had developed some cleaning and disease-control protocols, Riley said.

Before the store was given the OK to reopen late yesterday afternoon, a handful of midafternoon customers were turned away.

"Sorry, we're closed," said Lisa Youmans, who co-owns the store with her husband, Butch.

Next to the red "unsatisfactory" sign posted Friday by township health officials was a hand-made sign that said the place was closed and remodeling. Lisa Youmans said they had started repainting and remodeling before being closed down last week.

Pets & Supplies Unlimited, which has been operating for 14 years, sells dogs, rabbits, birds, hamsters, fish and rats, as well as pet food, leashes, collars, toys and other accessories.

Near the many "Do Not Touch" the puppies signs, there were 36 dogs some in cages. Many were barking; others were sleeping or playing with the other puppies in a pen.

As many as seven dogs were waiting to go home to their new owners, but because the store had been closed for nearly a week, they sat in their cages until they were given the green light by township and state inspectors.

The prices for the dogs range from $150 to $800, but Marlene Fanelli, Lisa Youmans' mother and a store volunteer, said sometimes they offer discounted prices to certain customers. She estimated they lost about $10,000 because customers couldn't make purchases for nearly a week.

Lisa Youmans and Fanelli said they knew they had had some mice in the store and were working on exterminating them without using chemicals. They said the township official who inspected their store was aware of that when they received a "satisfactory" rating.

Jeff Plunkett, Hamilton's health officer, said Gary Hill, the township's shelter manager who oversees animal control officers, had no knowledge of mice during his inspection. He also said there is no mention on Hill's inspection form of knowledge of mice in the store.

Plunkett said Hill inspected the shop on May 4 and rated it "conditional satisfactory." The rating was due to dirty floors, pens and food and water bowls, and general sanitation issues. Plunkett said the store was not up to high quality standards, but was also not at the point of closure. He added that when Hill returned on May 16, the violations were corrected and the store was issued a "satisfactory" rating.

After the June 12 complaint, the store was reinspected, received an "unsatisfactory" rating and was closed down. It reopened yesterday with a "conditional satisfactory" rating.

Plunkett said he and township animal control officials will meet with the Youmans within two weeks for a hearing.