ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. - There is an ordinance on the books in Palm Beach County that regulates the sale of puppies and the ordinance is proving to be tough to enforce.
A current investigation by Animal Care and Control alleges one pet store is violating the pet store ordinance.
ACC believes Star Pups in Royal Palm Beach is not complying with the county ordinance on selling dogs.
After a former employee filed a complaint saying dogs were arriving dehydrated and sickly, the director of ACC filed a complaint with the US Department of Agriculture.
Photos taken by an Animal Care and Control officer claim to show puppies delivered to Star Pups in poor condition: cramped, sitting in feces, shaking and with no access to water.
"We wanted the photos to paint a picture for how animals are being transported and arriving," explained Dianne Suave, the director of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.
Suave says the December photos are from an officer's visit to the store. "While she was on the scene the transport vehicle arrived," said Suave.
The officer was investigating a complaint filed by a former Star Pups employee, when she got on board a van of puppies that came from a company called Twin Creek Kennel in Ohio.
"When she started photographing he did ask her to remove herself from the vehicle," said Suave.
But despite those allegations, the county has no authority over companies that transport animals across state lines. "If i had my way, we would be able to inspect every transport of animals that arrives into Palm Beach County," said Suave.
In March, ACC visited Star Pups again and issued several citations. Pictures from that inspection question the store's cleanliness, handling of sick puppies and use of medication.
"It was very sloppy," said Suave. "That's the best way i can put it."
For about a month, ACC has been asking Star Pups for records of its puppies. "Right now, we're having very little cooperation from this business for furthering the investigation from the December complaint," said Suave.
Until the Department of Agriculture responds to the ACC letter and decides to get involved, the only other option for local authorities is to take Star Pups to court over violations to the county ordinance concerning health and cleanliness.
ACC has issued Star Pups five citations so far this year and assigned a special investigator to the case.
We reached out to the owners of Star Pups but have not heard back.
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