OHS Seizes Hundreds of Animals from Newport Pet Store
UPDATE: Oct. 7, 2011: OHS today cited the owner of Circus World Pets in Newport with four counts of first degree animal neglect and 26 charges of second degree animal neglect. The citations stem from a four-month investigation (see story, below). Second-degree animal neglect is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,500. Persons convicted of animal neglect are also barred from owning domestic pets for five years. Wilson’s case is scheduled for arraignment on October 31st.
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Sept. 12, 2011: Acting to protect the health of hundreds of pets, OHS Humane Investigators last week seized 169 animals and nearly 500 fish from a Newport retail store suspected of a prolonged pattern of animal neglect.
The seizure, the largest in the history of OHS, took place after a five-month investigation and included multiple visits to Circus World Pets on SW Coast Highway in Newport.
Investigators attempted to assist the owner in resolving extensive problems in the care, housing and feeding of pets offered for sale to the public, but ultimately OHS asked and received a court order to seize the animals.
"Our first choice is always to educate owners and help them do the right thing. But if that fails, we’ll take steps to seize pets and protect them," said OHS Humane Officer Allen Zaugg.
Public's Help Needed
The large number of animals seized is straining OHS resources, as the pets cannot be offered for adoption until the legal case is resolved or ownership is voluntarily relinquished. In some animal cruelty cases, legal battles have dragged on for more than a year.
Financial donations will help OHS purchase food and other supplies that will be required for as long as the animals remain part of court battle. Make your online donation here.
Puppies, Chinchillas, Birds
In addition to the reptiles, other animals seized include 11 puppies, 31 birds, three chinchillas, 22 rats, four gerbils and 70 mice. Nearly 500 fish were also seized from Circus World Pets and are now in the care of the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Aquarium employees arrived at the pet store during the seizure to provide for the care and transport of the fish.
"As we feared, many of the animals taken from the pet store suffered from malnutrition, dehydration and overall inadequate care. We are conducting a medical exam of every animal and will make sure they get the medical care they need," said Dr. Kris Otteman, OHS Director of Shelter Medicine.
The case began with a complaint from a customer in late March. A visit to the store by an OHS Investigator found numerous problems, including excessive amounts of fecal material in cages, inadequate food and a lack of water. The store’s owner was provided with information about proper care standards, and a follow-up visit 30 days later found improved conditions.
Store Fails Follow-Up Visit
"They passed the follow-up visit, but not with flying colors," said Officer Zaugg. On two subsequent visits, however, the original problems resurfaced. "They failed miserably when we visited again," said Zaugg. "There was not adequate food or water for the pets and the conditions the animals were living in were filthy."
During one visit by an OHS veterinarian, puppies were observed standing on feces-caked grates with no clean, dry surface available to rest on. The puppies had feces stuck to their feet and fur, and had limited ability to move about or exercise.
"Scarcity of proper nutrition and calories leads to emaciation, poor health and eventually starvation and death. Based on the number of visits to this location … there is a pattern of prolonged failure to meet the basic needs of these pets," stated Dr. Otteman in court papers requesting the search warrant.
Depending on the results of the medical examinations at the OHS Holman Medical Center, the owners of the pets will be cited for first or second degree animal neglect, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $6,250.
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OHS relies entirely on donations to fight animal abuse and neglect throughout Oregon. Although OHS humane officers are commissioned by the Governor, they receive no tax dollars to support their work. Please make an online donation today to help fight animal cruelty.