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Pasco pet spa owner arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty

Pasco pet spa owner arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty

The owner of a Pasco pet salon spent the night in jail after multiple customers said she hurt their animals.

Police said they arrested 28-year-old Michelle Burt on Thursday afternoon at Paw Spa along road 68.

The judge let Burt out of jail after Friday's preliminary hearing on the condition that she not work with cats or dogs.

In probable-cause documents, a customer told police Burt gave her indoor cat a flea-bath without permission.

She alleges the animal suffered painful chemical burns which eventually ate away at the animal's skin.

Police said this is the third incident of Burt abusing animals, though Burt isn't charged yet.

Angela Zilar with Benton-Franklin Animal Control said her team started investigating complaints about Paw Spa owner Michelle Burt in 2016, but it wasn't until recently-- with more allegations reported, including some by former employees-- that they gained traction.

"This is fantastic news, we've been working on this case for over two years now and to finally get it moving in the right direction is phenomenal," Zilar said.

The animal advocate said injuries to other animals include bloodshot eyes, broken bones, and even death.

"Unfortunately everybody who had cases in the past were able to be convinced it was an accident, because they didn't have knowledge the other incidents," she said.

The state is considering charging Burt with cases of animal cruelty in the first degree, and though she isn't formally charged the judge thought the claims were serious enough that she isn't allowed to work with people's pets until she's formally arraigned.

Prosecutors have 72 hours to file formal charges against her.

"We're not on a witch hunt," Zilar explained. "If it was just a witch hunt, we wouldn't have the evidence to back us up. And we do."

Zilar said her team is just trying to protect defenseless animals from possible harm.

"It will all come out in court," she said. "I hope that people don't rush to judgement and they wait to see all the information that comes out."

Zilar said if you've been to Paw Spa and have concerns about something you or your pet experienced, Animal Control wants to hear about it; contact them on their website.

It's important to note that as of Friday night, charges weren't formally filed; Burt's arraignment is set for August 28.

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