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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Colorado is known to be a pet-friendly state. But one local shop is being accused of not so friendly practices.
Denver7 viewers have complained about Perfect Pets in Centennial. Many claim Jens Larsen, the shop's owner, is selling sick dogs to the public.
At Cherry Knolls Veterinary Clinic, vet Meghan Shannon keeps the dogs she has rescued. She called Contact7 after treating a dachshund puppy that came from Perfect Pets.
"With how bad this puppy was, he's not even going to make it. He needs to be on oxygen," Shannon recalled thinking.
But the puppy survived and is doing well.
Contact7 heard a similar story from the Myers family after they bought a Pomeranian named Gunner from Larsen at Perfect Pets.
Parents Levi and Kristin and teenage daughter Olivia shared their story with Denver7.
"I went to bed thinking I might wake up to a dead dog. So how could that get any worse?" Kristin said.
Just days after bringing him home, Gunner began to look sick.
"I set him down, and he just flopped and rolled, and he wouldn't stand on his own," Olivia said.
The Myers family took the dog to a vet, a different veterinarian than whom Larsen suggested and one that Perfect Pets' insurance does not cover.
The vet confirmed the dog had giardia, a protozoan parasite that most dogs contract from drinking feces-contaminated water.
The family says Larsen only paid for part of the visits to the vet.
Larsen says the family never activated their insurance and didn’t go to his approved vet, which cleared him from responsibility, according to the signed contract.
"It made me feel like I couldn't live in my own house because I felt like my whole house was infected with giardia," Kristen said.
Denver7 went to check out Perfect Pets with an undercover camera and noticed lethargic dogs and one that had mucus in his nose.
"It's the dust. This place is relatively dusty,” said an employee.
In the last few years, the Colorado Department of Agriculture has cited Perfect Pets for mostly minor violations, like outdated prescriptions.
The bigger problem is finding out where they are getting their dogs from.
Citing privacy concerns, the USDA recently implemented regulations that keep some animal records confidential, preventing the public from easily seeing reports of mistreatment.
Denver7 received help from Bailing out Benji, a non-profit that has collected reports on breeders like AJ's Angels in Minnesota, where the Myers’ dog came from.
"In 2016, Clearwater Kennels became AJ’s Angels. Those are the same dogs. It’s the same address. It's the same violation," Bailing out Benji founder Mindi Callison said during a Skype interview.
Those violations landed Clearwater Kennels on the Humane Society’s Horrible 100 List in 2015.
Court documents described dogs living in their own feces, in wire bottom cages, eating food with rodent feces and poor vet care.
Denver7 reached out to AJ's Angels on Monday and is waiting to hear back.
"These are barns and barns and barns just full of animals, just commodities not lives," Shannon said.
Denver7 reached out to Larsen. He said he only buys healthy dogs and doesn’t consider giardia a severe illness, as it’s incredibly common.
As for AJ's Angel's, he believes the breeder has turned things around under new ownership.
Larsen notes he had an A+ rating on the BBB and said a dog would occasionally get sick, but they immediately receive treatment under the advisement of his vet.
PACFA did investigate Perfect Pets in May after Shannon filed a complaint. Perfect Pets was found to be compliant.
Gunner is almost fully recovered, but the Myers wish they knew what they know now.
"He sold us a sick dog, and I think he knew it. I don't think that's right at all. I don't want to see him continue to do that, and do that to other families," Kristen said.