SUN CITY, Ariz. -- A Valley woman says she spent a small fortune on a puppy. But as soon as she got the animal home, she discovered it was extremely ill.
Last December, Tina Shelledy paid big bucks for a playful puppy.
"Almost $2,400, like $2,300 and some change," she said.
Furry little Maximus was only 11 weeks old when Shelledy bought him from Puppies N' Love 2 inside Arrowhead Towne Center.
"He had a runny nose when we first got him and I had to wipe his nose," Shelledy said. "I had snot all down my arm."
Shelledy said she was told those signs were normal as a result of the dog traveling from Missouri.
So, thinking his illness was temporary, Shelledy brought Maximus home, but her excitement with Maximus took a turn. The pup apparently doesn't like the injections he gets twice a day.
"Green, thick, kind of runny nose," Shelledy describes. "And he was coughing like crazy."
Shelledy said the little guy has pneumonia and needs breathing treatments and other medicines, including antibiotics. In just a few weeks Shelledy has accumulated more than $1,000 in vet bills. She feels the store misled her about the puppy's health.
"She bought her puppy on the 19th," said Michelle Rhoten with Puppies N' Love. "The puppy arrived on the 18th and had a veterinary exam; nothing wrong."
Shelledy questions where her dog came from.
"I do believe that he possibly came from a puppy mill," she said.
When 3 On Your Side looked into the matter, we found the breeder where Maximus reportedly came from had its dog license canceled last February. The breeder also had numerous violations over the past few years.
"They let their license expire, that's OK," Rhoten said. "That doesn’t make them a criminal and that doesn’t make them a puppy mill."
Puppies N' Love 2 says they have zero tolerance for puppy mills and insist their pets come from private breeders.
"That puppy came from a hobby breeder, which means that that owner, that breeder, only has three females," Rhoten added.
While Maximus is starting to show signs of improvement, Shelledy said she's worried he might not make it and she already has around $3,500 invested.
It’s heartbreaking," she said. "I cry every time I go to the vet. He sleeps on my husband’s pillow every night so we're pretty attached to him."