CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- For months Eyewitness News has been investigating this story. A pet store, accused of keeping animals in unfit conditions, and ignoring repeated warnings to clean up their act.
After staking out the store early this morning, we ended up here at the courthouse, where a judge ruled in favor of McKamey officials who raided The Pet Company Tuesday and removed everything from fish to dogs.
Two hours before the doors opened, McKamey officials were in position at Hamilton Place waiting to raid the mall's pet store.
Security kept our camera back but from a parking lot we saw three McKamey trucks arrive at this service entrance.
Pictures sent to the Eyewitness newsroom show what was happening inside with the pet company completely roped off.
"There's a lot of different sized cages sitting out front and there are police officers, McKamey officials, they are taking photographs of the rabbit cages and hamster cages," says witness April Burke.
April Burke was walking by as the search got underway.
"It was disturbing that the one dog was just laying there, that bothered me. And another lady was talking to me about how it bothering her. We didn't' know if it was sedated or just lying there," says Burke.
The raid was triggered by this online petition with more than 4,000 signatures asking Hamilton Place to close the store after pets died.
When an employee came forward, McKamey moved in.
They found empty water bowls, broken cages, unsafe cleaning solutions and a broken air conditioner making it 85 degrees inside.
At the discretion of state and local inspectors, the pets were transported to McKamey.
A decision that landed them in court.
The pet store's attorney filed for a temporary injunction hearing this afternoon asking for the animals to be returned, but a judge ruled in favor of McKamey, citing city code.
"Months and months and months ago we received complaints on this and before us he's received complaints on this store. So it's a long term project for us to be sure these animals get the care they deserve," says Karen Walsh.
Karen Walsh, Executive Director of McKamey, says she isn't out to ruin someone's business. Only to save pets in harm's way.
"This is our job, this is what we have to do. If we don't protect the animals no body else will," says Walsh.
Today the Hamilton Place spokeswoman said the mall has received no complaints about Pet Company. And she didn't know about the petition.
Pet Company hasn't returned our calls.
The pets will be housed at McKamey until a judge hands them over for adoption or to another Pet Company store.
Thursday, May 23 2013 6:29 PM EDT2013-05-23 22:29:09 GMT
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