A concerned shopper captured footage of dozens of puppies at a pet store in Ohio who appeared lethargic and unresponsive (video below).
Two videos were posted to Facebook by Kimberley Depew, an Ohio mom and self-described animal advocate, on April 2. The post had more than 37,000 shares and one of the videos had over 2 million views by April 10.
Four minutes of footage show a series of large fish tanks and boarded pens containing puppies. The pens and glass tanks, the latter of which are not meant for dogs, have wood shavings and sawdust bedding sprinkled on the floors as well as large hamster-style water bottles, but no evidence of food.
As she walks from puppy to puppy, Depew calls out to try and rouse them. Price tags can be seen stuck to the sides of some of the cages, reaching as much as $999.99.
"Hi, babies! Hi, baby!" Depew can be heard saying repeatedly in the video as she pets and jostles the young animals, adding, "My doggy doesn't do this," when she receives no response.
Without exception, and despite the excitement and attention from Depew and several children who can be heard off camera, the puppies are unanimously unresponsive.
"I just wanted to help those poor babies," Depew told Opposing Views. "I have been up sometimes nonstop trying to find a way to help them. I didn't leave my house until yesterday."
Many comments on Depew's post urge her to contact authorities for the safety of the animals in the video.
"Strongsville [Ohio] police are aware," Depew wrote in another Facebook post. "But as long as their Animal Control person is not convinced anything is wrong nothing will be done ... if that makes sense. So, hopefully, someone with a higher authority will see the videos. Animal Rights will one day be given. Bless you. Thank you for sharing and caring."
Facebook users claiming to know the management and owner of the pet store, Pick of the Litter, say the videos posted by Depew are misleading and inaccurate.
One user, who said she knew the owner personally, insisted that the puppies were all lethargic because of vaccinations.
"[The staff] constantly clean the glass, of the cages, put new bedding in EVERY morning, and clean up any [poop] or pee RIGHT AWAY after [the] animals go through[out] the day," the user wrote.
"Also, the puppies that lady was saying wouldn't really do much just got some shots," she added. "Yeah, I know quite a bit about that place. That specific cage is where they go after having shots."
Just before posting the video of the unresponsive pups on April 2, Depew posted a live Facebook video of a protest of Pick of the Litter and other pet stores, showing a small crowd of people holding signs that read, "Boycott Pick of The Litter," "Puppy Mills Breed Misery" and "Adopt Don't Shop."
The protest was at least partly inspired by the release of a video showing an injured bulldog puppy at Pick of the Litter in January which led to protests and a Change.org petition attempting to force the pet store to close down. The bulldog's front legs appeared to be twisted, one wrapped in electrical tape.
Animal advocate Gia Campola spoke to WKYC about that incident.
"They should be in aired cages, they should have walkers walking them in the play areas and adoption rooms," Campola said. "They should not be together in one -- sometimes three to four to five [puppies] -- in an aquarium."
Pet store owner Tom Collins responded to the accusations that his store was mistreating animals.
"That breeder could have put that dog to sleep if he wanted to, but he didn't," Collins told WKYC in January. "We got that bulldog, we took it to Litchfield Animal Clinic, it was totally checked over."
According to the Cleveland Animal Protective League, complaints against Pick of the Litter are currently being investigated. Some advocates, however, worry that the state needs stricter laws to protect animal welfare.
"I am glad the animal protection law is here [but] I am finding out from my current experience some changes are still needed," Depew told Opposing Views. "I have found it very frustrating to try and help these poor [little] furbabies. It felt like absolutely no one was listening."