ATLANTA (AP) _ State officials ordered six Atlanta-area pet stores to stop selling dogs after more than 130 puppies tested positive for a parasite that can be transmitted to humans.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin said he will deal ``very harshly'' with the stores' New York-based chain, probably with fines.
The six stores, all in malls, are part of The Pet Company, based in New Windsor, N.Y. In three of those stores, every puppy tested was infected with the parasite, officials said.
The Pet Company based in New Windsor, N.Y., declined to comment Wednesday.
Officials learned of the problem after a Hiram resident bought a puppy for $800, then discovered it had a parasitic illness. The treatment cost the woman about $900 in vet bills.
After she filed a complaint, Irvin's office found 138 of 151 puppies tested at the six Pet Company stores were infected with Giardia, a parasite that can be transmitted to humans. No human cases of Giardia infection have been reported in connection with the sick puppies. The symptoms can include diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.
Agriculture officials said the six pet stores can continue selling other animals, but all their dogs were ordered quarantined on Tuesday.