The small town of Cumming, on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, found itself down a dog salon after 75,000 owners united to sign a petition demanding its closure. The company’s owner, Michelle Louise Root, had recently been charged with animal cruelty after kicking and choking a dog so badly that it died – while her employees looked on. When the owner’s friend came in to pick up the animal, Root told him that the terrier mix, Meko, had suffered a seizure, and nobody dared to contradict her story.
It wasn’t until later — when the vets who performed Meko’s autopsy noted strange injuries, and stories about similar incidents started to emerge – that Root’s story started to unravel.
She was slapped with animal cruelty charges and thrown into jail, only to be released on bail four days later.
Fortunately, the Paw’sh Paws employees who witnessed Meko’s horrific treatment have finally found their voices, albeit a year later at Root’s trial, which finally started late October 2018.
One witness tearfully recalled watching Root kick the dog and start dragging Meko around the store. “I saw Meko’s neck,” former Paw’sh Paws employee Lisa Ryals testified, recalling how the dog was choking on an overly-tight leash. “The dog was hanging and he fell on the table. I said, is he dead? Please tell me he’s not dead.”
Other witnesses were former colleagues who remembered Root kicking dogs at the PetSmart where she’d once worked, including one woman who said she’d reported Root to management 48 times.
The trial is ongoing and set to resume tomorrow. We can only hope that Meko finally gets the justice he deserves.
J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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