Petco Animal Supplies, which has many locations throughout San Diego County, California, has paid $1.75 million in penalties to settle a case in which the company was accused of overcharging California customers and neglecting animals in its stores. The settlement has received court approval. The case was prosecuted by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and district attorneys from Marin, Los Angeles, San Mateo and Santa Barbara counties. It was filed as a result of state and county inspections of Petco stores around the state between 2005 and 2008. According to prosecutors, an investigation revealed that Petco failed to remove expired price tags from store shelves and did not instruct its employees on weighing and charging for bulk sale items such as dog biscuits.
The court order requires each Petco store to deduct $3 from the lowest advertised or posted price of the item if a customer is overcharged, prosecutors said. If the item is $3 or less, the customer would receive one of the items free. Petco must also conduct regular pricing audits, according to the settlement. Inspections of Petco stores in Marin County by humane society officials revealed that some animal habitats were not being properly cleaned and maintained. In some instances, sick animals were not identified and removed from the sales floor, authorities said.
As a condition of the settlement, Petco agreed to conduct daily animal and habitat inspections and comprehensive employee training, and to provide prompt veterinary care for sick or injured animals. Prosecutors said Petco paid more than $850,000 to resolve a case involving similar allegations in 2004. The company operates 23 stores in San Diego County and about 160 throughout the state.
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