AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The woman accused of drowning and photographing dead rabbits at a Petland mall pet shop will be arraigned in court Monday.
It's a sickening case of animal abuse and it may not be an isolated incident.
Akron Petland employee Elizabeth Carlisle is accused of drowning two rabbits and then posing for pictures with the drenched, dead animals. What's worse, Carlisle then posted the pictures on her Facebook page.
Now, a former employee is speaking out and says the same practice of killing sickly animals is performed at the Youngstown-area Petland.
"We had a hamster that had like a skin disease and it was all ugly, and I came into work and asked where is was and I was told Jessica, she's the manager, that she drown it," Anna Stone told 19 Action News.
Employees of the Youngstown-area store told Reporter Dan DeRoos the drowning of sick animals never happens at that location but could not provide an answer as to why the former employee would make such a claim.
In response to the horrific mistreatment, Petland, Inc. has terminated the Akron store owner's franchise agreement. Effective immediately, the store is closed and will not reopen. The animals will be removed from the shop, which was individually owned and operated by a local franchisee. Petland will in no way, shape or form tolerate any abuse of animals in its care.
PETA is also weighing in, and wants to ban rabbit sales at all Petland stores.
The Akron Humane Society released the following statement late Wednesday afternoon:
Many individuals are inquiring about the drowning of two bunny rabbits at the Chapel 1-Jill Mall Petland store,. The incident was reported to Senior Humane Officer Tim Harland by PETA on July 29. 2009, "Once we received the call, this was treated like any other investigation and I met with Gary Winslow the franchise owner to begin the investigation," said Harland., After a lengthy investigation which included 1-larland interviewing the accused, he determined that the incident did occur and she acted on her own. Today two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty charges were filed in Akron. Municipal Court,, These are M Class charges which make this an enhanccable crime which means if she is ever charged. with animal cruelty again it will turn into a felony..
"The Humane Society of Greater Akron investigates cruelty and abuse in Summit County 365 days a year.. However the use of a social networking website, as was used in this incident, is a bigger twist," said Harland.
Petland, Inc. released the following statement Tuesday, Aug. 4th:
This information is horrifying and in no way reflects the values, policies and procedures demanded of Petland stores. Petland, Inc. is saddened and outraged at this gross violation of Petland's animal care standards. It is Petland's understanding that the employee was instructed to contact the store's consulting veterinarian, and instead, defied the orders and store policy and acted on her own. She was immediately dismissed and the case is now being handled by local law enforcement. Petland, Inc. is also conducting its own internal investigation.
This is an isolated incident that is horrific and inexcusable and will not be tolerated. Petland will take any and all action necessary as this does not, in any way, represent the culture and dedication to animal care of the thousands of caring Petland employees working across the country every day."