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Puppy death prompts Va. city to tighten regulations

Monday - 10/7/2013, 2:25pm  ET

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Mayor Scott Silvertorne has set up a special task force to look into ways to regulate pet stores. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

FAIRFAX, Va -- Bringing home a puppy can be a life-changing moment for many people.

But for one couple it turned into a nightmare that has prompted a local city to act.

Kevin Mulcahy and Tiffany Low bought an 8-week-old Maltese at the Petland store in the City of Fairfax. They put down $1,000 of the $2,400 total cost and took the puppy home. The dog showed signs of illness within a day, and died two weeks later from a respiratory illness and other maladies, the couple told Fairfax City Patch.

It was the second puppy from that store to die in recent weeks, Patch reports. The store owners told the couple they had not fed the dog properly.

The couple was even more shocked when they were sued by the store for the $1,400 balance on their purchase of the puppy.

That got the attention of the city government. Mayor Scott Silverthorne says Fairfax is now trying to come up with new regulations for pet stores.

"It can be a whole variety of things," he says.

"It can be the size of the cages, the size of the facility or kind of care the facility must have in terms of conditions."

The city will try to employ special use permits for such regulations, but there is a legal question about that application. Silverthorne has set up a special task force to look into ways to regulate pet stores.

"My suspicion is we are going to have to go to the state legislature for enabling legislation," he says.

One area they will look at is an existing state law that allows consumers to return the pets within 10 days if they are sick.

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