The owner of a local pet shop has been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty for reportedly freezing animals alive and starving them to death within his store.

According to a criminal complaint issued by Fairmont Det. Matt Lewis earlier this week, 27-year-old Aaron Ashley, the owner of Pets Plus at 601 Fairmont Ave., was apprehended after officers found several animals in bags in the freezer.

Stemming from a Feb. 9 search of the establishment, the report said that the animals found inside of various brown paper bags and white plastic bags inside of the freezer included a dog, five black kittens, one dark gray kitten, five brown mice, a black-and-white rat and a reptile.

There was also a total of nine rats reportedly found in two buckets of fish food.

Ashley, who according to other reports has posted $1,000 bond in Marion County Magistrate court following arraignment by Magistrate Peggy L. Twyman earlier this week, also owns Shermantic Computer Service, located directly across the street from the pet store, and Mountaineer GrafX LLC in Shinnston. 

Ashley officially took the pet store over from the previous owners last October after an interim stint from August to September.

According to an article in the Times West Virginian published Nov. 15, Ashley had more than tripled the store’s in-stock items and done a fair amount of renovations by that time.

Pets Plus had been in business since 1989 but has closed since Ashley’s arrest.

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