Veterinarian disputes abuse allegations at East Texas pet store

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TYLER, Tex. (KETK) – Animal rights activists went undercover to reveal shocking videos and pictures of animals inside the Tyler Petland. Now, two weeks later, many are wondering who should be held responsible and whether a crime was even committed. 

The images released by the United States Humane Society created an emotional reaction, especially on social media. However, some are saying there are two sides to every story, so we did some digging. 

A dead puppy stored in a freezer, robs showing through a dog’s skin, and an animal suffering seizures for days; these are just a few conditions discovered by an undercover humane society member here at Petland in Tyler. 

“There were sick animals that were not receiving the immediate medical attention that they needed for life-threatening issues like seizures and vomiting,” explains Nikki Prather, with the United States Humane Society. 

This isn’t the first time this Petland store has been criticized for the way animals have allegedly been treated. KETK News has been reporting similar stories for more than six months. 

“There is a floodgate of puppy mills, what we believe, well-documented puppy mill puppies coming into our communities that we know are not healthy. Many of them are very, very sick and don’t survive,” says Deborah Dobbs, with the East Texas SPCA. 

However, Petland maintains they take good care of their animals, explaining, each one is cared for by a local veterinarian who checks on them regularly. So, we went searching for that vet. 

We found Dr. Mike Dixon with the Flint Veterinary Clinic. 

“You know we’re in constant contact, pretty much every day of the week. Some times on holiday’s, I’ve been up there on Easter,” says Dr. Dixon. 

Dixon says he has been working with the Tyler Petland for years, and after seeing the allegations against the store, he wants to set the record straight.

“I saw something that said by the time most of the puppies get to the veterinarian most of them die and that’s just not the case,” says Dr. Dixon. 

Dixon continues, saying that’s not the only false claim made by customers and animal rights groups. He talks specifically about a picture taken of a boxer puppy where customers can visibly see its ribs. 

“A pretty normal boxer puppy is very lean. I as a veterinarian would rather have a normal lean puppy than a too heavy puppy that I cannot see their ribs. It’s normal for us to see a boxer puppies ribs,” explains Dr. Dixon. 

The doctor also spoke about the dead puppy Humane Society investigators found in the freezer, stating, “that’s appropriate if you have one pass away.” Dr. Dixon continues, “Generally what’s going to happen is they are going to text us, and we’re going to say okay, actually put it in the refrigerator. So that we can see the puppy and we’re actually going to do an autopsy on the puppy to see what it died from.”

With people protesting the store, Dr. Dixon saying the animals are as healthy as possible, and new owners taking control of Petland just a few weeks ago, we wanted to talk with the person who owned the store during the Humane Society’s undercover operation. 

State records show Samit Darne was the owner of the Tyler Petland from 2013 to 2019. He didn’t respond to several interview requests. Now, the question is if he can be held responsible for what happened to those animals.

“The folks who were there at the time the abuse was happening, a lot of them face some serious criminal charges,” says Justin Roberts, Roberts & Roberts Law Firm. 

According to the Better Business Bureau, the Tyler Petland has a C- rating, with complaints going back 3 years. Customers claim on the BBB’s website, they were guaranteed a healthy puppy, only to have to pay a vet to look at their sick pet just a couple of days after buying it, some within hours. 

“It’s very possible that these families signed away any rights to bring a lawsuit in this situation, and I’m sure the company made sure that they did,” explains Roberts. 

Roberts says Darne could potentially face felony charges, up to two years in jail, and a 10-thousand dollar fine. 

Now, he encourages anyone who is looking for a four-legged friend to do your research. 

The United States Humane Society suggests if you are ready to purchase a pet, to meet the breeder, visit where the animal was born or is living now, and be sure to ask questions because being an owner is a big task. 

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