Pet shop owner charged with animal cruelty sentenced on violation
YPSILANTI TWP., MI – An Ypsilanti Township pet shop owner accused failing to properly take care of the animals in his shop, selling sick and dying animals, has been sentenced to probation.
Stuart William Collins, owner and operator of Pet City Pets, was sentenced Nov. 12 to nine months of probation after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of committing a pet shop violation, court records show.
Collins, 68, was originally charged with one felony count of animal cruelty against 4-10 animals, records show.
He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge, Sept. 24, after a deal was reached where the charge would be dismissed under the prosecutor’s voluntary deferred sentence program so long as he successfully completes probation.
Additionally, he was ordered to pay $175 in restitution to the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
“Mr. Collins admitted only to selling a dog without a health certificate signed by a vet,” his attorney Joe Simon said. “The cruelty charge was dismissed and Mr. Collins was sentenced in accord with the charge he admitted to.”
Charges were filed in July, months after animal cruelty investigators from the Humane Society of Huron Valley and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office found two dead puppies at the shop located on Ecorse Road, seizing five other puppies as well as more than 40 reptiles and dozens of small mammals, according to the humane society.
Citing a history of complaints received about the pet shop, Human Society officials called the plea agreement “disappointing,” according to a statement for the Humane Society of Huron Valley.
“There have been numerous complaints about Pet City Pets over the years,” said Humane Society of Huron Valley COO Matt Schaecher. “We know many people who are disappointed with Mr. Collins’ plea deal. Several customers have since come forward regarding sick and dying puppies acquired from this store. Providing needed veterinary care to sick puppies shouldn’t be a stretch for a pet store financially or ethically. But, regardless, health exams and veterinary treatment for sick animals is required by Michigan law. It’s not optional.”
The seizure was the result of a search warrant investigator obtained after receiving an anonymous tip alleging sick and dying puppies deprived of veterinary care were being hidden in the back of the building, officials said.
Investigators uncovered sick puppies housed in a cluttered back room amid garbage, boxes, expired medication, Powerade sports drink, a bottle marked “holy water” and construction material, HSHV officials said.
One deceased puppy was found lying in an area with urine, feces and blood next to an electrical heating pad registering 220 degrees. A second deceased puppy was found behind a wooden board under a counter, HSHV officials said.
“There is currently no regulatory body overseeing pet stores. We’re reliant on a criminal justice system that takes animal cruelty seriously,” HSHV CEO Tanya Hilgendorf said. “We investigate complaints, but we don’t decide charges, plea agreements or sentencing.”
Investigators also found at least 415 animals at the shop did not have a health certificate from a veterinarian prior to sale which is required by law, HSHV officials said.
February’s seizure also included reptiles with no evidence of veterinary care, found dehydrated with open wounds and mouth sores and one had starved to death, as determined by a necropsy performed by Michigan State University.
Rats and mice for sale in overcrowded conditions intermingled with dead animals were also taken. The store was additionally cited for other pet store violations per Michigan law such as lack of basic sanitation, insufficient number of staff to care for animals, and presence of contaminants, including the storage of rat poison on top of dog food, HSHV officials said.
HSHV officials noted all the animals seized in February are doing well now after receiving medical care and many have been adopted.
“Companion animal adoption is at a record high right now, and fortunately most people know the value of ‘adopting, not shopping,’” Hilgendorf said.
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