By Mark Ackerman & Karen Morfitt
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – It did not take long for Abdel Ahmed to find the right dog. He surprised his girlfriend with a miniature husky which he named Louie last week.
“He became a part of the family right away,” Ahmed said.
Just a few days with Louie and they noticed something wasn’t right.
“The third day came around, and he started coughing up a little bit, and you know, I noticed it and I said ‘Okay, I’ll schedule an appointment and see what’s going on with him,’” he said.
A vet told him it could be parvovirus and to take him back to the Pet City store where he purchased Louie, so they could cover medical expenses.
Ahmed went back right away and was told to leave Louie at the store until he could be seen by their partnered vet.
He returned a few days later.
“I asked for my dog, I said ‘Hey, I’m here for his appointment. I’m here to pick him up.’ She just told me right away ‘Your pet didn’t make it,’” Ahmed said.
When he started questioning why they did not notify him sooner when they took his dog to the hospital, things got heated.
“In the midst of doing all that, she was writing me a check like I brought back a pair of shoes or something,” he said.
He captured part of the confrontation on his cellphone, posted it on Facebook, and it has since been shared hundreds of times and dozens of people shared their own experiences with the same Pet City.
“It seems like everybody had the same issues with the same pet store,” he said.
Casey Miller, the owner of Pet City in Aurora said she did everything she could to save the dog. She noticed the whole litter of miniature huskies were having problems and quarantined them in the store.
When Ahmed brought his dog back on Friday, Miller said she immediately took his dog, and another husky to the vet. She spent more than $5,000 in vet bills, but both dogs died.
“There really is nothing more I can do for a sick puppy than hospitalize it,” she said in a statement. “It did not die in the pet store under neglect. It is very unfortunate, but did happen.”
Miller said she returned the surviving dogs from the litter to the breeder, Roxanne Castens of Kansas.
CBS4 found Castens was twice listed on the Humane Society’s Horrible Hundred list, in 2014 and 2015.
“Every year we put out a horrible hundred report to find examples of severely problematic breeding operations,” said Kathleen Summers of the Humane Society of the U.S.’s puppy mill project.
Summers said Castens made their list because she was fined by the USDA for having an underweight dog, not providing proper vet care and repeatedly failing to make her facility available to inspectors.
This isn’t the first time CBS4 has found Pet City selling dogs from breeders on the Humane Societies Horrible Hundred List.
Last summer CBS4 visited Pet City to try to determine the origin of the dogs for sale there.
An undercover producer asked for more information about some yellow Labrador Retrievers.
An employee showed paperwork on the Labradors that traced back to a breeder named Shelli Kershner, from Rush Center, Kansas.
Ninety of Kershner’s dogs were seized by the state in 2006 because they weren’t receiving enough food and water, and she too was listed on the Humane Society’s “2014 Horrible Hundred List.”
Miller confirmed she has purchased hundreds of dogs from Kershner over the past six years.
Miller said Kershner’s most recent USDA inspection was violation free. Kershner did not respond to CBS4’s requests for comment.
As for Ahmed, he hopes sharing his story will be a warning to others.
“Do more background, do your research,” he said.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.