February 8, 2023

Pet Country, the Lakeport retail store that has been the matter of controversy for a lot more than two years because of alleged animal abuse and neglect, has gained an eviction see to shift from its latest place by Jan. 31.

“Pet Place is completed,” Steven Vaughan Jr., co-operator of the creating that residences the pet store, wrote Dec. 15 in a post on a Fb group web page formed to foyer towards the business enterprise. “I have an eviction judgment from the courts and they are to be out of my parents’ developing on North Key Road by Jan. 31st. On Feb. 1st I demonstrate up with a locksmith and law enforcement officers.”

Vaughan, who inherited the property from his parents, Steve and Joanne, stated he and his spouse, Rachel, gained the judgment on Dec. 2, via mediation in Lake County Outstanding Courtroom.

He stated Pet Country’s proprietor, Joanne Fernandez and her daughter, Annette Schweitzer, who manages the store, had been requested to get out of the setting up and depart it in “broom-swept” affliction. Vaughan included that Fernandez and Schweitzer stopped paying rent six months in the past, even though he and his spouse have expended $39,000 in lawyer charges.

Neither Schweitzer nor her legal professional, Andre Ross, returned Press Democrat cellphone calls requesting interviews, but customers stated Schweitzer has been hunting for another store to shift to and that she has claimed she will keep the assorted reptiles, amphibians, rats, birds, pet dogs and cats at her residence right up until she does.

Customers of the Facebook group “Pet Region Has To Go,” as perfectly as ex-staff members of the pet retailer, expressed aid that the organization was remaining evicted because it would conclusion the alleged mistreatment of the animals. But they explained they ended up also unfortunate that the former retail store, which they said was pristine and a helpful spot to go to, had deteriorated to its current point out.

“Steve and Joanne (Vaughan, who ran Pet Region before Fernandez and Schweitzer) would be heartbroken,” claimed a person former personnel who asked that her identify not be applied so she can nonetheless enter the keep. “When he sold the retail store, he was selling his daily life.”

Yet another former employee, Gina Schussolin, fought back tears, as he extra, “It’s tough, truthfully, for me to even push by that retailer. The (initial) entrepreneurs ran it so lovingly and (less than the latest ownership the keep) is just a grotesque shell of what it applied to be.”

Facebook group member Erica Guttierez, who took pics of what she explained were being dead lizards and posted them on social media previous calendar year, mentioned she was “very glad the company is being shut down for the sake of the animals.

“Hopefully she (Schweitzer) does not commence one more shop somewhere else and start out the entire animal abuse and neglect again,” she reported.

Witness reviews submitted to Lake County Animal Treatment and Regulate included such claims as feeder rats consuming other rats’ carcasses mainly because they experienced no food items, other animals going devoid of meals or water for times, and animals staying saved in unsanitary and unsafe circumstances, such as koi not obtaining the suitable combine of chemicals in their saltwater tanks.

There ended up experiences that new lizards were being housed in tanks with the remains of useless lizards, although turtle bones have been uncovered at the base of other tanks. Animal diseases and accidents were being remaining untreated, witnesses reported, and the store’s backroom stank from not staying aired out, though birds sat on feces-coated bars and rats, mice and guinea pigs were being crowded into tanks and cages.

Some said Schweitzer failed to get foods and supplies in time and sold substandard animals to clients.

These studies were taken by the county Animal Treatment and Management staff members, who went in to study problems but were being generally turned away because they were advised by Schweitzer that they wanted a research warrant. Copies of some reports and photographs taken by the agency have been provided to The Push Democrat by Vaughan.

Lake County Animal Treatment and Management File 4.pdf

Lake County Animal Treatment and Command File 3.pdf

In the earlier, according to Lake County Animal Regulate and Care Department Director Jonathan Armas , when his workplace was turned absent immediately after trying to check the store’s situations, the staff members would cleanse up the keep, although some citations have been issued and some animals have been taken out.

A person of the most difficult items for ex-personnel and associates of the general public to tummy has been the placement of a longtime fixture in the retail store, a cockatoo named Mandy. She applied to be up entrance by the hard cash register for years, greeting consumers as they came in. Now she’s in a backroom with other caged birds and has reportedly been plucking out her feathers, they said.

“The only motive I go in there is to verify on Mandy,” said the previous employee. “It breaks my coronary heart that she’s caught in there. The neighborhood understands she is not pleased her cage is filthy.”

A number of people have made available to invest in Mandy, and Vaughan mentioned he experimented with to negotiate to retain her as component of their settlement with Schweitzer and Fernandez, but was unsuccessful.

Former employee Robin Newton mentioned she is content the retail outlet is closing. The ultimate straw for her was when she introduced her 4-year-outdated son in and he couldn’t see the fish in the tank since of the filthy, algae-filled h2o.

“It went from a fairly immaculate, remarkable spot to something quite unhappy,” she reported.

You can achieve Employees Writer Kathleen Coates at 707-521-5209 or [email protected]