UPDATE: On October 11, 7News reported that Jeff Fortin has closed his Denver pet store. Fortin told his leasing agent that the investigation by the CALL7 news team put him out of business.
Although Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) investigators concluded back in January it was “probable” that a Denver pet store owner inhumanely euthanizes dogs, no charges have been filed against him, and his store remains open for business.
The investigation was launched after two employees of North Washington Street Kennels (NWSK) reported that store owner Jeff Fortin was illegally euthanizing puppies by filling syringes with dish soap and injecting it into their hearts.
Fortin also happens to be the owner of Beaver Creek Kennels, a puppy mill in Kansas, where he euthanized 1,500 puppies last December due to a distemper outbreak (there is no evidence that he used the “heart-stick” method to kill them). Prior to that, the puppy mill had been cited multiple times by the Kansas Department of Agriculture, which has photographic evidence of the facility’s “sick and nearly emaciated dogs,” according to 7News.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently investigating Beaver Creek Kennels. The facility is closed, and Fortin has not renewed his breeder license.
Surprisingly, CDA officials told 7News’ CALL7 investigation team they were not aware of the Beaver Creek Kennels issues.
“I don’t know the exact details of what happened in Kansas,” Assistant State Veterinarian Nick Striegel told them.
Striegel refused to answer questions about why Colorado allows Fortin to continue operating a pet store. A CDA spokeswoman told 7News that Fortin’s license can’t be revoked because he has no out-of-state animal abuse convictions.
A spokeswoman for the Adams County district attorney’s office told 7News there wasn’t enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant for NWSK.
Yet in a January report obtained by 7News, Chris Thompson, an investigator for the CDA’s pet care program, wrote that he found a syringe caked with what appeared to be dish soap at the pet store.
Thompson wrote that a nervous Fortin gave him two different explanations for what the syringe was used for, and neither story made sense.
“The fact that I found an inexplicable needle/syringe set up that would be ideal for the alleged heart-stick procedure … is hard to dismiss,” Thompson noted.
Loren Bengston, one of the NWSK employees who reported the heart-stick euthanizations, told 7News he blames the CDA’s pet animal care program for allowing Fortin to remain in business. He said state regulators “need to be held more accountable.”
According to 7News, its CALL7 team has been investigating the pet animal care program for the past two years, and has discovered “repeated missteps and missed signs that might have saved animals from being harmed.”
PHOTO: Life Lenses