TDA: Puppy Zone granted state license after most recent inspection

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A spokesperson from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture has confirmed that Puppy Zone passed its most recent inspection and has been granted a license on Monday, September 17.

The license issued allows the store to sell dogs and cats.

An inspector with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture visited Puppy Zone Wednesday and determined that the store meets the threshold to require a license.

Department of Agriculture inspectors spoke with the store’s veterinarian to further ensure that the puppies were being taken care of.

The state made sure the facility was clean, and not overcrowded. Inspectors said the store passed their review.

Puppy Zone owners filled out the proper application and passed the official inspection. That license has been processed and approved.

The state said that it will continue to monitor the store, and work with Knox County Animal Control as needed.

Protesters rallied outside of the store on Saturday, September 15 at noon to express their concerns.

Puppy Zone came under fire after viewers expressed concern over a post that went viral.

A viewer posted pictures inside Puppy Zone, a pet retail store on Kingston Pike, alleging the store had its dogs living in poor, inhumane conditions.

On Sept 12, WVLT reached out to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, which recently took over the licensing program.

According to the TDA, anyone who buys and then re-sells 25 or more cats or dogs per year is required to have a cat/dog dealer license.

A TDA spokesperson said that the department had no record of the Puppy Zone being a licensed dealer.

"There was something wrong with these dogs, their eyes were all blood shot," said Jennifer Wilson. Wilson's mom made the now viral Facebook post after the two visited the store. "There was feces and pee in every single one and you could definitely smell it.

Wilson said she and her mom are animal rights advocates and stopped at the store to see the conditions inside.

"Whenever you walk in it looks like baby cradles and there's like four or five dogs inside them that's what the dogs were in and it's just sad," said Wilson.

WVLT reached out to Knoxville Police Department Animal Control, who visited the store on Sept 10 and again Monday afternoon after receiving several complaints. WVLT reporters spoke with KPD public information officer Darrell DeBusk, who said his officers found no violations.

“All of the puppies were alert and appeared okay,” DeBusk said upon his visit. “They (officers) are going back this afternoon. While they were on their visit, the animals were being fed.”

DeBusk told WVLT when officers with Animal Control do checks after complaints, they check alertness, cleanliness, access to water bottles, injuries, and clean water. Officers also check to see animals are quarantined if they are sick, and that there is a vet on call in case of injuries.

Steven Glatt, the owner of Puppy Zone said this is a mistake that has happened before.

"It's basically the same thing we've been dealing with for 10 years, they come to the store, don't ask questions, they don't ask for information for their concerns and leave with a negative thought in their head and go to Facebook and make their uninformed post to the world and it goes viral," said Glatt.

Glatt said pictures in the Facebook post are misleading because the dogs are asleep. He said the puppies see a veterinarian every three weeks.

"I'm not tired of people that love animals, their hearts are in the right place, they just don't know us," he said.

Some people have accused Puppy Zone of supporting puppy mills, but Glatt said each breeder is vetted.

"I want to know the parents are healthy and they've seen their vet, I want to know that you have a day job, that breeding dogs is not your profession," he said.

DeBusk said Puppy zone maintains proper licenses with the city, and that KPD did not find any problems with their visit.

"I love my puppies, when I walk in they see me, they love me and they know me. To hurt an animal, it's not in my nature that's not me," said Glatt.

TDA says if the Puppy Zone meets the threshold to acquire a license, the department will make sure management takes the necessary steps to comply.