Troubled Dog Seller Still In Business

Woman Had Said She Would Quit Selling Dogs

A woman who promised to shut down her dog-selling business following numerous complaints about the health of the animals was still in business in recent months under several assumed names.

Nearly three years after the state filed suit against Tammy Gilchrist, she was still selling dogs -- some of them ill, Call 6's Rafael Sanchez reported.

Customers all over the country have spent thousands of dollars on veterinary bills in hopes of saving gravely ill puppies.

Blake Brownlee said he racked up $1,300 in vet bills after he bought a Pomeranian puppy, Bella, from Gilchrist and her business, Kritter Heaven.

Within days, Brownlee took Bella to four vets to keep her alive.

"She was almost going to die. She actually had to be hooked up to an IV drip line," Brownlee said.

Bella was diagnosed with parvovirus, a highly contagious intestinal virus that is frequently deadly. A veterinarian said Bella had been exposed to parvovirus before Brownlee bought her and hadn't been properly vaccinated, in spite of Gilchrist's promises.

"Not in a million years would I dream what I was about to go through," Brownlee said.

Melissa Grimes said she spent $1,500 to save her pocket beagle from fleas, ringworm and scabies.

"It was so bad that my vet pretty much knew my phone number," she said.

Forty-three other customers shared similar stories with Call 6. All said they paid Gilchrist for puppies that were sick or were never delivered, or for kennel papers that were never provided.

After a Call 6 investigation in February, Gilchrist sent an e-mail that said she was shutting down the business.

Her business partner, Wally Workman, also said they planned to close up shop.

"We got overwhelmed. That's why we're shutting down," Workman said. "We're done. It's too much."

Gilchrist was found back in business within the last two months when Call 6 sent volunteers with hidden cameras out to puppy shop. She was seen on hidden camera in three separate meetings over five weeks.

"We rescue, so you're in the right market. Yeah, these are all rescues," Gilchrist said during one of the hidden camera encounters. "We've been doing it since the '80s."

In each encounter, Gilchrist asked would-be buyers to meet her at a gas station in Stilesville or Plainfield in hopes of exchanging canines for cash.

Each time, Gilchrist -- who used the name Stacey Picas in her ads -- was there. Other names her business recently used to sell a wide array of dog breeds at a variety of prices include Ernest Woods, Dottie's Antiqs and Tricounty.

When Sanchez confronted Gilchrist, she denied she is Tammy Gilchrist and denied selling sick dogs.

"I'm Stacey Picas," Gilchrist said. When asked why she was again selling dogs, Gilchrist said, "I'm not."

Beverly van Haaften, who bought a dog from Gilchrist that died of parvovirus, said she's disheartened that Gilchrist is still in business.

"We've got to be able to do something … to keep this from happening over and over and over again," van Haaften said.

Gilchrist's attorney said she is now selling dogs with health certificates from veterinarians. Of the 50 complaints Call6 has confirmed, Gilchrist has refunded the money, provided the dogs or provided kennel papers for seven customers.