Exotic Gillette Pet Store Cited For Animal Neglect

The owners of an exotic pet store in Gillette received three citations Wednesday for animal neglect. Customers told Cowboy State Daily the animals lived in "crammed" and "horrible" conditions.

Jen Kocher

April 12, 20233 min read

An animal control vehicle is parked to the right of Hillcrest Pampered Pets in Gillette on Wednesday morning.
An animal control vehicle is parked to the right of Hillcrest Pampered Pets in Gillette on Wednesday morning. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The owners of a Gillette pet store received three citations Wednesday in response to reports of animal neglect.

The Gillette Police Department and city animal control officers were on site at Hillcrest Pampered Pets on Wednesday morning investigating. Owner Patty Case was issued three citations related to animal neglect, according to a release from the city of Gillette.

Case is cooperating with the investigation, police say, and the business has voluntarily closed its doors to “focus on correcting the identified deficiencies,” the release says. Animal control officers also will return later this week to ensure the welfare of the animals.

According to the store’s Facebook page, it sells “everything from puppies to tarantulas.” This includes Nigerian dwarf pygmy goats, chameleons, mountain horned lizards, turtles, Chinese water dragons, corn snakes, a green tree python and several varieties of birds, as well as puppies and kittens.

Gillette city spokeswoman Jennifer Toscana did not respond to a Cowboy State Daily request for more information about the type of animals impacted and whether they have been removed from the business.

Case also did not respond to a request for comment.

Questionable Conditions

Breeana Bullock and Becky Lorenzen spend a lot of time visiting the northeast Wyoming store and its animals, in particular the puppies.

They were at Hillcrest on Wednesday morning when Campbell County Sheriff’s Office deputies and animal control personnel appeared to be investigating the conditions of the animals.

Bullock said she overheard Case talking to officials trying to justify a broken bird’s beak.

Bullock said she also noticed that six of the roughly nine bird cages had been covered and it appeared that several of the snake enclosures had been taken down.

Bullock said that one of the officers was questioning the number of chinchillas being kept together in another cage. 

Bullock and Lorenzen went to the pet show to visit the Corgi puppies before the store was shut down but shortly after law enforcement arrived.

In the past, Bullock said she noticed that one of the kittens that was being kept in what she thought was a hamster cage with five others had a severe eye infection.  

“I asked the owner about it, and she became very snippy with me,” Bullock said.

In general, Bullock said she’s had concerns about the “crammed” conditions of the animals as well as the hygienic conditions of the store.

“It smells horrible,” she said. “It smells like dog and rat poop, dirty birds and old food.”

Mixed Reviews

Customer reviews on the Hillcrest Pampered Pet Facebook page give the store a 3.9 rating based on nine customer reviews.

In July 2022, Whitney Busse wrote: “The pets are suffering here. Cages are stacked. The rodents live on top of each other to the point where the whole store smells like amonia (sic) because of the feces they're living in.”

Betsy Nowack similarly urged customers to stop frequenting the store in December 2021 after buying a kitten that she said was suffering from distemper and likely wouldn’t survive.

“Her littermates and any other kitten that used (the) same cage could be infected too, not to mention any of your pets at home,” Nowack said in her review.

Shayla Marynik, conversely, gave the store a positive review in 2018.

“Went and bought a ferret from them today and he is doing great with his new roommate,” Marynik wrote. “Nice little pet store and friendly people.”

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Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter