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Former workers cry foul about conditions for pets at Kennel Creek

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Walk inside Kennel Creek pet resort in Overland Park and you'd most likely be impressed. It looks posh for a pet place.

But those who once worked for the kennel say the attractive lobby hid an ugly truth.

"The abuse, the neglect, the filth," said Denise Swientek who left the kennel in late January after working there for three months.

Swientek was one of five former workers who talked with FOX 4 Problem Solvers on camera about conditions at the kennel that she said pet owners never see.

"I made a lot of complaints about dogs not having food, not having water, not having blankets," said Swientek who said she was fired from the clinic after complaining too many times .

Alyssa Krumveida, another Kennel Creek employee who quit in August, said she left after her dog got sick two times with kennel cough.

"That was part of my leaving; I can't even bring my own dog here," Krumveida said.

But if Kennel Creek was as bad as these former employees claim, why would anyone bring their pet there?

Employees said pet owners are prevented from seeing much of anything beyond the lobby -- even if they ask.

That's exactly what happened when a FOX 4 producer asked for a tour. Kennel Creek owner Chris Sailors showed her a video of dogs at play
and then took her down a long hallway to a viewing room where she could only look through a window at the dogs in kennels about 12 feet below.

After Krumveida quit last August she reported Kennel Creek to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

"I stayed on top of it and called them and called them," said Krumveida who now works as a veterinary technician in Lawrence.

After Krumveida's complaint, a state inspector made a surprise visit in September of 2015 and gave Kennel Creek a failing grade.

The report cites numerous problems: Poor ventilation, mold and excessive ammonia levels, which is caused by old urine. There were also concerns about flooring that was peeling and detaching and can become a breeding ground for disease.

READSeptember 2015 Inspection Report

The inspection also cited the kennel for adopting animals without a license and not having a current veterinary care form. And the inspector ordered immediate attention for an Alaskan Husky named Mya whose owner went to nursing home care. The report noted that Mya's pelvic bones had become "quite prominent."

The state allowed the kennel to remain open, but ordered a thorough cleaning and the majority of problems fixed by the following month, October 2015.

Former employees who left in late January -- four months after that failed inspection -- say life at Kennel Creek had not improved.

Photos employees say they took in December and January show the bad floors, moldy walls where workers bathe their dogs and peeling paint next to a kennel.

FOX 4 showed the photos to Courtney Thomas, who heads Great Plains SPCA. She was especially concerned with the floor.

"This would pose a disease concern," she said.

Would Thomas ever considering keeping her own pets there?

"No," she said.

State records show a Kansas inspector tried to perform a follow up visit to the kennel in November, but it was closed for the day. The inspector never returned until after FOX 4 Problem Solvers started asking the state questions in February about Kennel Creek. Two days later, the follow up inspection was preformed.

This time Kennel Creek passed, even though the inspection found no change to the flooring cited almost five months earlier for concerns over "debris, liquid and disease."

READ: Inspection follow up: Part I

Inspection follow up: Part II

The state gave Kennel Creek a new deadline of May 1 to fix the floor, stating the owner was still waiting for funding.

FOX 4 Problem Solvers tried repeatedly to interview Chris Sailors about his concerns regarding his kennel. However, he canceled a scheduled interview and sent us an email stating that he had "consistently been "in compliance with all regulations and licensing requirements."

He said he didn't want to "waste our time" with an interview now that a state inspector had given the kennel a passing grade. He said he has a plan in place to meet the state's requirement to fix the floor by May 1.

Denise Swientek said she's glad the state is now paying attention to Kennel Creek, but she is frustrated that it took an employee's complaint and then a FOX 4 Problem Solver investigation to get action.

The state said it has four inspectors for 900 facilities. It plans to closely monitor Kennel Creek to make sure required improvements take place.