Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Besieged pet-shop owner quits

Loses water supply, now faces probe after animals die

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Tanya Morgan has been vilified by Free Press readers and faces a provincial investigation after a number of creatures in her care died while her store was without water for 32 days.

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Tanya Morgan has been vilified by Free Press readers and faces a provincial investigation after a number of creatures in her care died while her store was without water for 32 days. Photo Store

A demoralized Transcona pet-shop owner says allegations of animal neglect are the last straw.

Pet Peripherals at 114 Regent Ave. East will close March 31, Tanya Morgan announced via Facebook Monday.

"The province of Manitoba called to inform me we have been reported to the province as (an) animal abuser and negligent to the animals for operating 32 days without water," Morgan wrote in a Facebook post.

"I'm so very sorry to say this is the final straw. Our doors will be closed March 31, 7 p.m."

Morgan had originally announced last weekend her pet shop was going out of business due to frozen pipes the city had not fixed.

She sold off the remaining animals and pet goods Sunday, but reconsidered after the city responded to media reports and thawed the store's pipes Sunday evening.

But the allegations of animal neglect crossed a line, she said, and Pet Peripherals is finished.

Animal inspectors arrived at her Transcona pet shop Monday, acting on public complaints animals were being neglected.

The allegations frustrate Morgan, who said she did her best to care for her pets while her store was without running water for more than a month.

Morgan said she is demoralized, and the thought of facing sanctions for negligence has taken the last of the fight out of her.

"I'm done. The damage is done. What can I do?" Morgan said Tuesday.

The public reacted with outrage to the pet-store problems, but many blamed the owner, not the city. Pet lovers were incensed over the death of fish, reptiles and mice.

In emails to the Free Press, they blamed her for failing to find another source of water, for failing to relocate the store or for not placing the animals elsewhere.

"In regards to the Transcona pet shop in danger of closing... The real disturbing part of this is not that the city was negligent in fixing her frozen pipes, but that she herself was negligent in her responsibility to the fish, reptiles and mammals in her care," wrote Karen Stolz.

"I myself (as a true animal lover) would have fostered some of the critters if necessary or would have been glad to deliver water myself."

Despite hauling buckets of water daily, Morgan said she felt helpless.

The quality of water was part of the problem, and the lack of running water meant the pet shop was not able to provide the humidity needed for tropical animals, she said.

For some people, however, there was no excuse for the pets' deaths.

"As an animal lover, I find this repugnant. Are you telling me that this woman couldn't go buy jugs of water, bring in pails or do whatever it took to keep her animals alive?" wrote another critic.

Another scolded the pet-store owner for failing to plan ahead.

"Whatever happened to Plan B? If you run a business, there are situations wherein things happen. You must always be prepared. I have animals, and I know if I didn't have heat because of a power outage, I would not wait until the time wherein my pets are freezing to death. I would move them," that critic wrote.

Supporters of Morgan jumped to the store's defence.

"Voters and taxpayers are disgusted with the lack of action," wrote Tanya Bishop, a supporter who drew media attention to water woes that forced the owner to close the pet shop in the first place.

The province is saying little about its investigation.

"The Chief Veterinary Office is currently responding to complaints about the care provided to animals at a pet store in Winnipeg. We're unable to provide further information at this time since it's an ongoing matter," a spokeswoman said.

The Chief Veterinary Office is obliged to follow up on all complaints made to the Animal Care Line (1-888-945-8001 or 204-945-8000) or submitted to animalcare@gov.mb.ca.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 26, 2014 B1

History

Updated on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 8:34 AM CDT: Removes question for discussion

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