PetSmart exec disputes Procopio testimony

September 24, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

A spokesman in the PetSmart corporate office in Phoenix, Ariz., said the actions of the manager of the Hagerstown store toward a pet adoption group were misrepresented in a hearing last Thursday before the Washington County Animal Control Authority.

In late August, the Humane Society of Washington County cited Second Chance Rescue of Inwood, W.Va., alleging that dogs taken to the PetSmart Store on Garland Groh Boulevard for adoption weren't being properly cared for while on display there.

Second Chance challenged those citations, prompting last Thursday's hearing.

Humane Society Executive Director Maria Procopio testified at that hearing that she was sorry to learn that Second Chance had lost its space at PetSmart.


"When I heard that, I went to PetSmart on Sept. 3rd or 4th and asked them to reconsider but they said they were glad they were gone," Procopio said at the hearing.

But Kristen Zimmer, PetSmart corporate communications representative, said she talked to the store manager and he told her that no one ever said that about Second Chance being suspended from doing its adoption work at the Hagerstown store.

"The manager told me Procopio wasn't even at the store on Sept. 3rd or 4th," Zimmer said from her Phoenix office.

Reached Monday evening by telephone, Procopio first said she talked with another store person and then the store manager but couldn't remember what day that was.

Procopio was the only representative of the humane society to testify last Thursday. She told Animal Control Authority members that Kevin Lewis, the humane society officer who issued the citations to Second Chance, was "out of town."

Contacted Monday by telephone, Lewis said he quit his job at the humane society on Sept. 7 and Procopio knew that when she testified at the Sept. 19 hearing.

"I left because Maria's interests and mine were incompatible," Lewis said.

Lewis said he had no contact with Procopio after Sept. 7 until the afternoon of Sept. 19 when he found a voice mail message from her about the hearing that night.

When asked why she didn't tell the authority members that Lewis was no longer employed at the humane society, Procopio repeated that she said he was out of town.

"I think everything will be fine," Procopio said Monday. "We are not butting heads with Second Chance."

Zimmer said her company only suspended Second Chance at the Hagerstown store until an investigation can be done. "There were customer complaints but we were working with them on that."

Second Chance is still taking pets available for adoption to the Frederick, Md., and Winchester, Va., PetSmart stores, she said.

"We are partners with more than 2,000 adoptions groups across the U.S.," Zimmer said. "PetSmart is dedicated to pet safety and health."

The Animal Control Authority is expected to issue a ruling on the validity of the citations in early October.

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