Puppy-dog eyes and customer-service smiles prettify Har Mar Pet Store in Roseville on a weekday June evening. Among the dozens of furry residents for sale currently are $249 kittens, $60 rabbits, and $1,400 Pomeranian pups.
The store belongs to Gerald Papineau.
But Papineau's high prices couldn't hide what a USDA official came upon recently. The Roseville animal retailer was a little pet shop of horrors about six weeks ago, according to federal inspection paperwork.
On April 21 USDA Animal Care Inspector Kevin Wilken discovered various creatures inside the pet store suffering from a variety of distressing maladies. A reddish sore bulged from the eye of "Poppy," a four-month-old English bulldog. Staff knew about the dog's condition, Wilken wrote, "but had not contacted" the veterinarian.
Three dwarf hamsters fared worse. Two of the animals had an eye missing while "the third was missing both eyes," according to the report.
"None of them looked like they had been injured recently," noted Wilken, who added that the store had again failed to contact a vet.
Other creatures in rough shape were a gerbil "with what appeared to be a bloody discharge surrounding the eye" and a Bichon pup with a suspected respiratory condition.
In yet another enclosure, Wilken found "a deceased baby hedgehog" that had died two weeks prior still inside "with an adult hedgehog."
"It was apparent," the report reads, "that the deceased baby hedgehog had been sitting there for some time as the body had deteriorated and it was difficult to recognize it as a baby hedgehog."
Wilken and Dr. Debra Sime revisited the store in early May. Their one-page report noted "all previous" vet care issues had been "corrected."
Repeated messages left for Papineau at his store went unreturned.