The owners and caregiver of the animals at Evergreen Pet Shop are being charged with animal cruelty, and now court documents show what investigators found when they entered the shop.
Back in early November, a community of animal lovers came out to scoop up the animals that remained at Evergreen Pet Shop. The shop had been closed down in August, according to court documents, for tax-evasion, but the owners claimed they were still caring for the animals.
The owners of the store sent an email to KXLY to respond to allegations of animal neglect:
"In early August the store was forced to close. However during the time it was closed we have had personnel in on a daily basis to maintain the daily duties of the store, with the intent of reopening.”
Owner Curtis Nerger, his daughter and an employee of Evergreen Pet Shop, Nichelle Nerger, and the man they put in charge of caring for the store and its animals, Shane Allen Wahrer, are all charged with First and Second Degree Animal Cruelty and Transporting or Confining Animals in an Unsafe Manner.
It was evidence that SCRAPS Animal Protection Officers, three witnesses and the testimony of two doctors at Spokane Valley Animal Hospital what pushed Spokane County Prosecutors to pursue those charges.
One witness in court documents says that on November 9, two-and-a-half months after the business had been shut down for tax evasion, she found it impossible to walk anywhere in the store without stepping in feces. She also found a Pomeranian with no food and a cat crying out in a cage.
Two doctors from Spokane Valley Animal Hospital testified that the dog was dehydrated, it's fur matted and covered in feces, it had a heart murmur, severe dental disease and toenails so overgrown they were curling into the pads of its feet.
The cat was not able to walk, according to doctors, was considered emaciated at only five pounds and so dehydrated doctors were unable to draw blood. The cat also had what's called ventrolexation, a syndrome characterized by muscle weakness or rigidity of the neck causing an inability to raise the head. The only human option was to euthanize it.
Doctor Sheryl Blumenstein said in court documents that: “Malnutrition and neglect contributed to the cat's condition and it was questionable if even the basic needs of the cat were being met.”
In the court documents, the Nerger's and Wahrer explain weeks of confusion about who was in charge of the animals – them or the building's owner, who agreed verbally to take over the assets of the business, but not to care for the animals.
Nichelle Nerger said in court documents that she realized the animals were in poor condition but she believe that was because five days had gone by and they did not have water due to a breakdown in communication.
The court documents indicate that there is picture evidence to back up all witness claims, evidence that will be withheld until the trial date on April 15.