MONROEVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) -- A local family is accusing Petland Monroeville of knowingly selling them a sick dog that later died.
The Kunkle family had no intention of buying a dog when they wandered into Petland Monroeville in October.
But with a 16-week-old Siberian Husky puppy named Shelby, it was love at first sight.
"We had just lost a dog and we had our two children with us and they fell in love with the dog as well," Lindsay Kunkle said.
But when they brought her home, it was soon apparent that all was not well with Shelby.
She had a persistent cough that proved resistant to the vet's antibiotics.
Three weeks on, her condition worsened to the point where Shelby could not stand up.
"We had to hand feed her. We had to lift her up to got to the bathroom," Kunkle said.
Petland advised them to bring Shelby in to be seen by the store vet, and the Kunkle's left her in the store's care. But less than a week later, Lindsay got a call saying Shelby had died.
"I was angry and hurt and heartbroken. All of these emotions," Kunkle said.
The Kunkles now say Petland knowingly sold them a sick dog and refused to reimburse them the $4,000 they spent to buy Shelby.
They're not alone.
Nationally, the Humane Society of the United States has twice accused Petland in court of buying sick dogs from puppy mills and knowingly selling them to the public.
For its part, the company has denied these claims and both times judges have dismissed the suits against Petland.
But while Petland is a national chain, Monroeville is an individually owned franchise.
And in the past three years, customers have filed similar complaints at the Better Business Bureau, which has given the Monroeville store an F-rating for not responding to five of eight complaints filed there.
"The Petland in Monroeville has an F rating because of these give unanswered complaints," said the BBB's Warren King.
KDKA's Andy Sheehan went to the store to get a response to these allegations but was told the owner was not available.
When KDKA's Andy Sheehan called later, he was told the store would not participate in this report and would have no comment.
The Kunkles, meanwhile, have joined up with a local animal rights group in picketing the Monroeville store.
"I want to see justice for these animals," Kunkle said.
But regardless of fault, the Better Business Bureau says the Kunkle's story is a cautionary tale.
In buying a pet from anyone, keep your their eyes open. Petland's standard purchasing contract gives the buyer only 48 hours to return an animal for health reasons.
"It's an emotional buy. People need to think outside of their heart and use their head. If they feel like there's an issue with their puppy, then don't take it," King said.
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