WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — It was almost two years ago when Jacelyn Slate and her wife celebrated Valentine’s Day with a new, furry addition.

The couple had spent time wandering around the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown when they found themselves in The Pet Zone. They quickly fell in love with a nine-month-old Sharpei-Beagle and made the decision to purchase the puppy they named “Ollie.”

But it was to their horror that their new companion fell severely ill just the next day. Slate said it started with a runny nose but quickly escalated to life-threatening symptoms.

“When we went to the urgent vet, they said he had K-9 influenza and kennel cough,” Slate explained. “He was actually having a hard time breathing, so we ended up having to take him to the emergency vet.”

From there, the couple was told, Ollie might not survive. But after a nebulizer treatment, veterinarians were able to stable the puppy’s condition.

This cost Slate and her wife hundreds of dollars and affected their other pets as Kennel Cough is highly contagious. One of their other dogs caught the virus and was put on narcotics for a period of time.

But the couple was confused as they said Ollie’s records from The Pet Zone were clear of any illnesses.

“It said he didn’t have any discharge from his nose, it said that he didn’t have kennel cough, that he was in great health,” Slate shared. “But it was interesting because when we look back at the records, it said that he got doxycycline, which is an antibiotic, a week before we purchased him.”

Due to complaints like this, The Pet Zone has agreed to pay up to $200,000 to those who submit claims of purchasing sick animals. This was following recent legal action from the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

In a statement, Ted Bell, of Bell Pet Company, said the following regarding the legal fines:

We felt that it was in our best interest to settle with the Attorney General’s Office rather than to continue the court process. The Attorney General brought this case in 2018, and the fact that it sat for five years speaks for itself. While we strongly felt we would have prevailed on the merits, half a decade waiting for the Attorney General to proceed with its case is just too long- we wanted to put this matter behind us and continue to do what we love the most – providing happy,  healthy puppies our customers. We also want to thank the thousands of people who have voiced their support for us during this and during the recent legislation banning pet sales.

Ted Bell

However, those who have purchased animals from The Pet Zone, including Ollie’s parents, said reimbursements and payouts are not enough.

“Putting people through that isn’t right, to begin with,” Slate expressed. “When people get animals, they expect that they’re going to get sick. But they don’t expect that the place they’re getting them from is going to give them to them sick.”

Looking back, Slate and her wife believe that they saved Ollie’s life.

“I do feel like we ended up rescuing him,” she said. ” Because he would have died if he stayed there.”

Within the next 30 days, The Pet Zone is required to post information about submitting claims for anyone who believes they may be eligible to seek reimbursement.

Eligible customers will be reimbursed if they purchased pets in or after January 2014 and within 14 days of purchase, received a certification from a veterinarian that their pet was sick or unfit for sale.

Those who have questions about the settlement are encouraged to contact the OAG Watertown Regional office at (315) 523-6080.