The Nashville District Attorney General's office has filed cruelty-to-animals charges against managers from a local PetSmart store.
Gregory Gordon, Kris Stengel, and Tonya Smith from the outlet on Sawyer Brown Road were charged following an investigation by animal rights charity PETA.
According to the organization, video footage and photos - documented by someone who worked at the location - show 'systemic neglect and animal suffering'.
This evidence prompted Metro Nashville Animal Care and Control, assisted by police, to execute a search warrant at the store on March 29, seizing severely ill guinea pigs and mice as well as PetSmart records.
According to PETA: "The investigation documented that the defendants repeatedly refused to provide sick, injured, and dying animals with veterinary care, for reasons including an order to 'keep costs down' so that they would receive bonuses.
"The small mammals involved included a guinea pig who suffered from an abscessed wound on his back, dehydration, and painful gastrointestinal stasis; a guinea pig whose abscessed knee joint spread infection to his heart, brain, and elsewhere; and a mouse who languished for more than a month with an inflamed eye and an apparent respiratory infection before dying without having received any veterinary care."
Video footage shows animals suffering (Video: PETA)
PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations, Daphna Nachminovitch, added: "These charges are an important first step toward achieving some measure of justice for the sick, neglected animals who were left to suffer and die without care.
"Authorities did the right thing here, and PETA encourages kind consumers to do their part as well by not shopping at PetSmart until it stops selling live beings and sells only supplies."
'Working with authorities'
PetSmart released a statement after the raid alleging that 'some of the footage is several years old'.
However, it suggested the company is working to 'obtain the relevant facts' in order to assist the authorities.