Updated: Details emerge on puppy-store search | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Updated: Details emerge on puppy-store search

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Allegedly forged veterinary documents prompted El Dorado County Animal Service officers to serve a search warrant at Broc’s Puppies on Tuesday, according to a probable cause statement returned to the El Dorado County Superior Court clerk’s office Wednesday.

In the statement, Senior Animal Control Officer Doug Petri said he conducted an inspection of Broc’s Puppies on May 7 and found veterinary exams for puppies sold at the store contained dates that appeared to be altered as well as “falsified” signatures of local veterinarian, Henry Kostecki.

A clerk at Broc’s Puppies said store owner Dennis Franks was unavailable for comment because he was in Sacramento on Wednesday. He referred the request for comment to Franks’ Sacramento attorney, Michele Giguiere.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Giguiere said she had a copy of the warrant, but had yet to receive the affidavit or the probable cause statement.

Although she said she was not in a position to comment in detail on the allegations in the statement because she had not seen it, she denied the allegations based on the information she had available.

“To my knowledge, nothing like that took place,” Giguiere said.

Litigation on the store’s behalf is forthcoming, Giguiere added.

In a closed session last month, the City Council voted to negotiate to grandfather-in Broc’s Puppies, but otherwise keep a new ordinance banning the retail sale of dogs and cats in the city intact, said Councilman Bill Crawford.

The direction to the city attorney also included a provision that the right of Broc’s Puppies’ owner to operate the puppy store could not be transferred to a new owner, Crawford said.

Crawford said he was disclosing the results of a closed session because he’s long believed that a vote taken in closed session should be public record.

In a Reno Gazette-Journal blog post, Giguiere is quoted as saying she believed the city prompted the search of the store, something City Manager David Jinkens denied on Wednesday afternoon.

“I am advised that the DA requested the police department to conduct the search on behalf of County Animal Control, and the PD complied with this request,” Jinkens said in an e-mail. “Neither City officials nor the Police Department sought a search warrant. The PD only complied with a request from the DA to conduct the search on behalf of Animal Control.”

According to the probable cause statement, Petri compared store records to Kostecki’s records and determined 16 of the puppies in the store on May 14 did not have their legally required health examinations or had falsified records.

In at least one instance, the allegedly falsified documents caused Petri to question whether the store was following California law that requires sick dogs to be separated from other dogs until they are free from disease, according to the statement.

“Sick room log sheets at Broc’s Puppies show at least one dog who was diagnosed with an ‘acute respiratory infection’ being cleared from isolated segregation using a falsified veterinarian’s signature, therefore it is unknown if the dog was healthy at the time it was returned to the sales floor,” Petri said in the statement.

The alleged falsification of documents shows Broc’s Puppies’ intent to defraud customers through the sale of unhealthy dogs, according to the statement.

The statement says Animal Services has received several complaints of dogs being diagnosed by local veterinarians with Giardia and Coccidia protozoa shortly after leaving the store.

Because Giardia can infect both dogs and people, the sale of the dogs infected with the protozoan puts both humans and pet at risks, according to the statement.

The statement notes that pet owners still need to be contacted to identify the extent of the alleged forgery and fraud.

Tuesday’s search was part of an on-going investigation and no criminal charges had been filed.

Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said Tuesday he was hopeful the investigation into the store would be completed in a matter of weeks.

Kostecki was not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.

– Tribune Managing Editor Elaine Goodman contributed to this report.

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