A video that's gone viral on social media appearing to show the owner of a Grand Junction pet day care center hitting a dog was staged, that store's owner said Wednesday.
But Grand Junction resident Sasha Ross, a former groomer there who shot the video, said it's all real.
Regardless, state and local animal welfare officials are investigating an alleged animal abuse case involving Playcare Pets and its owner, Stacy Erdman.
Complaints were filed with state and local officials following a video showing Erdman appearing to strike a cowering dog while several other dogs hovered around her at the North Avenue day care and grooming center.
Erdman said the video was actually shot about four months ago, and only appeared on social media on Tuesday. Rose said she decided to post it after filing a complaint against Erdman that went nowhere.
"I turned her in at the beginning of March, about a week-and-a-half after I had taken the video, and they said they never got it so they dropped the investigation," Ross said. "It's taken this long for anyone to do anything, so I just posted it on Facebook."
Erdman said she fired Ross, who was a contract employee, because she kept bringing her son to work, saying the then 6-year-old was abusing the animals. Rose, however, said she left on her own, and her son never did anything wrong.
The cellphone video, which has been viewed thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook, appears to show Erdman hitting the dog with a stick or pipe, saying, "Do not. You don't bite other puppies, idiot." Erdman said she never uttered the word, "idiot," saying that was added by Rose to the recording later.
While Erdman admitted to striking at the dog, she said she never actually hit it, adding that doing so is unnecessary because dogs respond more to loud bangs and commands. She said the video veers away from her at that crucial moment, saying that's a tell-tale sign the video was a fake.
Erdman said Rose staged the whole thing by purposely throwing a piece of food near the dog, which fought for it with a puppy that also was in the same corner of the room.
"All she showed (in the video) was this much," Erdman said, holding her thumb and forefinger close together. "I never hit the dog. You can see, I hit the floor. She threw that food over there, and they both went at it while she was recording it. And then I said, 'See, you don't have to hit them to make them listen,' but she didn't put that on there either."
Erdman said the dog, a female Weimaraner, was prone to be aggressive with other dogs, and had been at the center for about a week.
Ross said Erdman routinely was abusive with animals and decided to begin recording the incident after she heard Erdman disciplining the dog.
Officials with Mesa County Animal Control and the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Animal Protection confirmed they are investigating the matter, but wouldn't comment on any details.
While initial postings of the video have been taken down from Facebook, it remains on some Twitter accounts. A tweet by a Grand Junction resident identified only as Kris @coloradohoe had been viewed more than 31,500 times by Wednesday evening, up from less than 7,000 times that morning.
As a result of all that attention, the company's Facebook page has been shut down, and Erdman and other day care workers stopped answering the telephone because of numerous death threats.