PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local pet store is open today, after it closed on Monday due to threats.
On Tuesday, the Petland in Robinson Township opened its doors at 11 a.m., just hours after a sign posted on the door said it was forced to shut down, “due to harassment and personal threats towards employees.”
The temporary shutdown came after former employee Katelyn Cerciello posted pictures on Facebook and on a blog, claiming the animals inside were sick and poorly treated.
“The treatment of the dogs there is, so many medical issues, selling sick dogs, buying them from puppy mills and then selling them to unknowledgeable people. It’s just a disaster all in itself,” Katelyn Cerciello says.
Cerciello says she worked at the store for about a month, but noticed issues after a week. She says she alerted the Humane Society about the conditions, but when she didn’t get a response, she took to the Internet.
Specifically, she created a blog, where she says she documented her time as an employee with pictures.
“Everyone who works there knew what was going on they didn’t want to lose their jobs and not make money and whatnot,” Cerciello says.
Her post on Facebook went viral with thousands of shares. The information apparently fired some up to the point where they reportedly went into the store Monday to make threats.
Robinson Police were called to the store as a precautionary measure.
The store opened its doors to the media on Tuesday afternoon. It’s a display they say they wanted to make because of Cerciello’s claims.
Because of the death threats, most of the employees didn’t want their faces shown, but manager Joann Williams says the claims could not be further from the truth.
“It’s absolutely upsetting,” said Williams. “We’ve been getting all kinds of threats, myself and my employees, we care for every animal here.”
Williams showed reporters the extensive records kept on all the puppies, including exercise charts, and how often they are taken out of their kennels.
“Every animal is taken care of,” said Williams. “They are played with, they are loved, they are fed. We stay here at night, we come on the weekend, we come on the holidays, we take them home. So I’m very offended by a lot of that.”
Frederick Wolfe, an attorney representing the store’s owner, Jeff Koury, called Cerciello’s allegations false and untrue.
“The former employee’s allegation that Petland ‘cuts corners’ when comes to the care of our animals is baseless. Further, the individual’s allegation that puppies have died at the Petland Robinson store is also false.” Koury said in a statement. “Our kennels always have been found to be in compliance with all requirements for licensure and we have never been cited by these authorities for any violation of any applicable rules or regulations.”
The state Department of Agriculture inspects pet stores and during its most recent inspection on March 10, they found the store to be “in compliance with all provisions of the act and it’s regulations.”
This is not the first time that accusations have been made against the Petland in Robinson. In 2012, a dog owner went to court claiming Petland sold him a sick boxer.
Back in 2008, Jeff Koury, the owner of the Robinson Petland told KDKA that his dogs are vet checked two or three times before they arrive at his store.
“If they do not pass these screens by these individual vet checks, they do not ship to my store,” he said in 2008.