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Embattled pet store owner wants her side to be heard

One of the 24 puppies that Michael Staley, husband of North Puppies pet store owner Tammy Staley, allegedly dumped in the woods in western Clinton County.

One of the 24 puppies that Michael Staley, husband of North Puppies pet store owner Tammy Staley, allegedly dumped in the woods in western Clinton County. Shawn Ryan

The kittens were quarantined in large, 250 gallon aquarium tanks, according to Staley. Overnight, one of the kittens died — a reality that she says happens fairly frequently with litters of kittens. Two other kittens from those litters had died a couple days prior to that. 

“So when they walk back there they see a dead kitten. The state walks in, they see a dead kitten, so that doesn’t look good right off the bat. Even though it’s nothing we could have prevented, it’s a dead kitten, it’s got to be dealt with,” she said. “The litter boxes were obviously full, they needed to be changed and stuff. Some of the cats were out of food and water.”

But for an hour or so to clean up and to report the dead kitten, her life, she feels, would not have taken the turn it did.

In the firestorm of publicity following her arrest, Staley says she lost up to 95 percent of her business. With payroll still to meet, and the 30 dogs to care for, not to mention five children at home to feed, things were turning desperate.

Then, on Aug. 4, her situation took another turn for the worst when her husband Michael allegedly staged a burglary at the store, took 24 puppies and dumped them at numerous locations around western Clinton County. It was a move of desperation, Tammy said. A move, she said, she was not aware of before-hand.

“I’m mad at him, but I understand where he’s coming from,” she said, the wear of the previous few days and weeks apparent in her voice.

“I think in my husband’s eyes, he sees me crying, he sees me depressed. He knows that we’re not taking in any money. He figures ‘no puppies, no problems.’”

“He’s not a bad guy.”

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