COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A pet store located in the Post Oak Mall in College Station has officially closed its doors. The store was at the center of viral social media posts after former customers claimed it was housing animals in unsanitary and unsafe conditions. One former customer, Riley Peterson, told KAGS News she felt the store was responsible for the death of her puppy, and a Brazos County Judge agreed.
"It was some way to get some kind of justice and show other people that it is possible to do something," Peterson said. In a story we first brought you in June of 2019, Peterson and her boyfriend, Wesley Goldwater, bought a puppy they named Kona from the Puppy Station in April of 2019.
“We pretty much just flooded her with love right at the beginning,” Wesley told us in June. "She was just so sweet. She was the sweetest thing in the world.” By May, the couple had to put Kona down after she became so sick, she couldn't walk. Later, their vet told them Kona had intestinal parasites and distemper.
When Peterson shared her story to her social media pages, she was flooded with stories from other customers of the Puppy Station and was even given video by a person who claimed to be a former employee, who took video of the conditions inside the store. Those videos have been viewed more than 40,000 times.
Then came a Facebook group called 'Shut Down Puppy Station Now' and it was through that group that Peterson met people who talked with her about filing a lawsuit against the business.
“I've always dreamed of closing this place down," said Judy Leunes, a community animal activist. She met Peterson on the Facebook group. "I thought this is something individually I want to be involved with.” Leunes helped Peterson connect with community resources like Animal Control. "My role was to help as someone who has been involved with animal welfare for over 40 years in the Bryan-College Station area."
Peterson also connected with Kristen Sandlin, who helped with research and supported Riley throughout the process. Sandlin spoke up for Peterson during court and used her knowledge of Texas Property Law to base their case on.
"We went after him based on his contract. He states that these puppies are in healthy condition and he offers a warranty on them," Sandlin said. "And, of course, he doesn’t honor his warranty."
“I sent demand letters. Waited for the trial," Peterson said. "We did a lot of research on laws and on all my receipts and all the stuff that we’ve done over the course of eight months." Peterson said they did it all without a lawyer, something she is proud she was able to do on their own. "It was in some way to show the community and show other people that it is possible to do something about it rather than just losing money, losing your pet and losing just so much."
The lawsuit judgement came in November of this year, but Peterson said it wasn't about the money. "It was about getting justice for Kona," she said. Puppy Station has been closed as of December 14 and former employees posted on Peterson's Facebook group the owner told them it would not be reopening. It is unknown at this time if Peterson's lawsuit has any connection to the closing of the store.
We reached out to the owner of Puppy Station. Calls to the business are unanswered and we were unable to leave a message as the mailbox was full. We have left a message for him through other means and are waiting to hear back. The company's Facebook page no longer exists.
When word broke of the store's closing, Twitter appeared to rejoice.
The team of Peterson, Sandlin and Leunes said their work is far from over. "Closing the puppy store down was step one," Sandlin said. "We need to keep the pressure on."
"The next step is changing the local ordinance so no pet store such as this is allowed to ever exist," Leunes said.
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