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State investigating Westminster pet store; owner admits disease outbreak

WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- A local pet store, Puppies N Stuff, is under investigation by the state.

The store’s owner admitted to the FOX31 Problem Solvers the Westminster store suffered a deadly disease outbreak.

FOX31 also uncovered multiple reports of people purchasing puppies from the store, only for the dogs to become sick and die within a few weeks.

“If we wanted to treat him, it would be $5,000 and there was no guarantee that he would still make it," Samantha Maughan said after losing her 10-week-old puppy to a viral disease called distemper.

Distemper, which is often fatal to dogs, is spread through the air, water or by mouth.

Symptoms include fever, nasal and eye discharge, coughing, vomiting and lethargy. It is prevented through vaccines.

In 2008 and in 2017, FOX31 investigated complaints about the pet store selling sick puppies.

“Puppies have health certificates before they come in," Puppies N Stuff owner Sandy McDonald said. "And if a vet can’t pick it up and we do everything we can here, sometimes, once in awhile, something is going to slip through.”

McDonald says her store had a distemper outbreak after a litter of Yorkshire Terriers arrived with the disease in late April.

She says the puppies were treated for initial symptoms. However, the first distemper diagnosis came in early June after many of the animals were in new homes. She says most of the littler died, and the virus spread to other dogs in the store.

“In a perfect world, no puppy would ever get sick, no baby would ever get sick, no person would ever get sick," McDonald said. "It’s not a perfect world. Things happen.”

McDonald says she reported the issue to the state after the first Yorkie's distemper diagnosis.

McDonald told the Problem Solvers the store closed down to clean for several weeks.

"Lawmakers need to do something about this. Otherwise, innocent families like my own are going to continue to deal with such problems," Christopher Paup said after the pug puppy he purchased for his 5-year-old niece was diagnosed with distemper after 20 days of ownership.

McDonald maintains she sold the pug puppy before the deadly outbreak.

Both Maughan and Paup say they were told their puppies were vaccinated for distemper.

An open records request to Colorado’s Department of Agriculture Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA) program revealed the state inspected Puppies N Stuff four times in a four-month span because of complaints.

In February 2019, an inspection found that McDonald was giving an old pet prescription to a dog with a cough. The same dog was not put in isolation.

Inspectors also found puppies without solid resting ground, including a Chihuahua standing on a wiring with a thin blanket.

The state notes those violations have since been corrected.

PACFA will not answer questions about the pet store or release current inspections until its investigation is complete.

To file a complaint about a pet store, visit the PACFA website.

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