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Online petition calls for closure of Council Bluffs pet store

Posted at 6:59 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 20:00:00-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA. (KMTV) — An online petition gaining popularity on social media asks for the closure of a Council Bluffs pet store. It’s from what some are calling poor conditions for the animals.

Samantha Taggart adopted two rabbits recently. But instead of enjoying a new friend, things changed quickly.

“I held each bunny in my arms as it gave its last shriek, its last breath,” said Taggart.

Only nine and ten days later, her recently adopted pets, had died. She said the rabbits became sick shortly after coming home.

“You can say it’s just a rabbit, but that was supposed to be my emotional support animal for my sisters, like 6 and 8 years old, they don’t understand that,” said Taggart.

She says she adopted the animals from the Birdcage, a pet store in Council Bluffs. When she went back to tell the store, another rabbit was close to death.

“The rabbit was not moving, it was really lifeless, it was really sad, it was just not how you picture a bunny when you see a bunny,” said Taggart.

Rabbits are known to be prone to viral illnesses, but Taggart says she was concerned about the condition of the store, and the animals inside. She thinks it played a role in losing her pets.

“The place has been open for years, and for all of these hundreds of stories of animals that they’ve lost, I don’t think that they should be given another chance time and time again,” said Taggart.

Taggert started an online petition afterward, asking for the closure of the store. She shared pictures she took inside, showing what she says are dirty and overcrowded cages, pet food stored in unclean buckets, and dogs with no beds to lie in.

“There were dead fish, dead turtles, overcrowded rodent cages,” said Brooke Brayman, of Council Bluffs.

Brayman says she hates going inside the store. “It’s just awful every time. I leave there crying every time I go in there.”

But on the Iowa Department of Agriculture website, since 2012, the store has had four complaint inspections and annual inspections every year. All show no violations other than one recommendation of a better exhaust system to help with odors.

The owner of the Birdcage declined an interview, but we decided to stop by unannounced to check those conditions. The area where it appeared the dogs were, was empty, no dead animals were seen, and cages appeared to be cleaned recently. Still, Taggart is concerned for the pets.

“It doesn’t take very long to switch up some stuff and put on a mask, and say well, no, our animals are fine," Taggart said.

She’s recently adopted two new rabbits that are doing well and hopes no one else has to through what she did.

“Sadness and that heartache you get from losing a pet you’re supposed to have for a very long time I don’t want anyone else to go through that,” said Taggart.

The owner of the store says the state came and inspected again on Thursday, and according to him, no violations were found. He also says he has long time customers that would also vouch for good treatment of the animals.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture says the last complaint that they got about Birdcage was last weekend. No word on if the recent inspection the store owner says they got, as a result of that complaint.