Inspectors Tell Pet Store Stop Homemade Vet Care

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Georgia's Department of Agriculture told the Petland in Kennesaw to stop treating customers' sick pets at the store owner's home and take them to a veterinarian instead.

The Kennesaw location is considered one of the most successful of all the Petland franchises. The FOX 5 I-Team already reported how multiple customers complained to the state the pet store sold them terribly sick animals. Another told the Better Business Bureau a salesman showed them supposedly exotic cats that experts say were simple tabbys you could find in any animal shelter at a fraction of the price.

But new allegations involved a pet store actually playing the role of veterinarian.

Just ask Christy Gonzalez. Four days after she brought Penelope came home, the French Bulldog puppy was diagnosed with pneumonia. But perhaps that shouldn't have been a surprise to Christy. She took home two containers of medication from Petland the day she bought her puppy.

"It didn't have the dog's name," Christy remembered. "It didn't have an ID number. Or French Bulldog. It didn't have anything on it. It just said Canine. I thought that was a little odd."

 A little odd, she said, became very odd. According to her complaint to state regulators, when Penelope wasn't responding to the medications, the manager of Petland Kennesaw said he would take her to their store-approved veterinarian, Dr. Walton Waller of Canton. But when Christy later wanted to see her dog, she said the pet store manager objected.

"He said that she was doing so much better," Christy said. "She was breathing on her own. That now she would be moved to the Puppy Clinic. And when I started asking questions about the Puppy Clinic is when he told me the Puppy Clinic is actually at the owner's home."

A second customer reported a similar experience -- Ashley Powell complained to regulators Petland Kennesaw owner Lamar Parker "expressly stated that he personally had been treating Daisy at his home and was providing Daisy with breathing treatments every few hours."

"I cannot imagine a lawful scenario where it would be ok for the owner of Petland or a Petland associate to treat an animal at their home before or after purchase really," said Tamara Feliciano, the attorney for both pet owners.

"The owner of the pet store should not be treating the animal at his house unless it was on the advice of the veterinarian that they have on staff," said Georgia Department of Agriculture companion animal supervisor Mark Murrah.

And only if the animal has not been sold. Murrah said the state told Petland to stop using the owner's house to provide veterinary care, and referred the department's findings to the Georgia Board of Veterinary Medicine July 22 to investigate whether anyone at Petland was practicing veterinary medicine without a license.

A spokesman for the veterinary board had no comment.

In a written statement, Petland's attorney said the company conducts "its business at all times with the highest degree of integrity and honesty, and in compliance with all laws and industry standards." They said they would investigative customer complaints. The statement ignored our question about whether Lamar Parker treated customers' pets at his home.

But Petland Kennesaw's preferred veterinarian confirmed Parker did just that. Dr. Walton Waller told the FOX 5 I-Team he put an end to all those trips to the Puppy Clinic at the pet store owner's house. He said it "left the wrong impression" and customers must now handle all transport of sick dogs or cats to his clinic.

He also said he now requires all Petland Kennesaw puppies from out-of-state breeders be unloaded first at his clinic, where he said he makes sure they're x-rayed and quarantined if necessary before going onto the sales floor.

Dr. Waller also said he's certain he personally treated Christy Gonzalez' sick French Bulldog and prescribed her medication, even though the pill bottles she was given simply says Canine.

Christy still doesn't believe it.

"I've got 30 prescriptions from Dr. Waller and I've never met him, spoke to him on the phone," she said. "I've never had any interaction with this man at all."